E-Book Formats: The Mad Scramble

Jul 1, 2010

I haven’t been reporting much on developments in the e-reader biz lately. Simple reason: I can’t keep up and I don’t think it pays at this point to even try. I’m enjoying the shake out, though.

The mad scramble is being driven by two factors:
1) Screen technology has gone mobile in a big way – with the Kindle, Nook, iPad, iPhone, Android, and so forth and so on.
All the stuff you could possibly have the time to read can now travel with you. And if that isn’t enough, even more stuff you’ll never ever have the time to read can be sent wirelessly to you.
2) These screens do provide a satisfying reading experience. And they are getting better all the time.

The New iPhone’s “Retina” Display

I checked out the new iPhone with it’s ultra-sharp Retina display the other day and it was amazing, really. As an iPhone user, I was very skeptical about it being worth the hassle and expense of an upgrade, but to these tired old eyes, it definitely is. I’ve simply never seen a display with text as crisp and sharp at small sizes as I saw on the new iPhone. I did a side-by-side comparison with my current phone and all I could say was, “Wow”. The next day I was using my wife’s iPad for something and I couldn’t help but try to imagine what it would be like if the iPad had the same quality screen as the new iPhone. Wow++. Only a matter of time, I suppose.

E-Reader? Got One. It’s Called A Browser.

And so, everybody’s scrambling to establish themselves as the dominant platform or format or application, or something or other for the burgeoning market for “books onscreen”.

Here’s a simple fact that, for me, stands out: All day long I read from an application called a browser. You’ve heard of them, right? Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome – those guys. But yet, when it comes to paper books that have been ported onscreen, I’m being asked to use some other application called an E-Reader.

Why? What’s wrong with this picture? Are the words in a paper book different than the words on a blog?

As you ponder this question, check out the free browser-based Ibis Reader. (Yes, for the iPhone/iPad it’s an app. A matter of screen real-estate, I suppose. When will mobile Safari support full-screen mode?)

I’m also keeping an eye on Blio, new e-publishing software that seems to be a little different from the rest of the pack, but we’ll see when it soon debuts.

Wanna e-publish? Jeffrey Zeldman posted a nice, brief roundup with some juicy links a couple of days ago.

Sharing Options:

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: