Sunday, July 31, 2011

Kindle News: Plans to escape Apple's stern, over-protected grove


EBookMagazine in the UK
"Removal of in-app store links prompts anger, complaints and confusion" as a result of the Apple requirement that rival ebooksellers either 1) make a link to purchase at Apple's store, giving Apple 100% of the other bookstore's 30% revenue share of a book sale (the 30% share for a bookseller was Apple's idea in the first place, causing higher book pricing, or 2) remove any and all links to the other bookseller's stores.

  One thing I had not expected to see:
' The Kindle app’s iTunes listing now has a majority of ‘one star’ reviews alongside negative reviews lamenting the loss of the store link."  [How ironic.]
Users have described the updated, link-less app as “defunct” and “a big step backward”.

Other Kindle app users have made use of the reviews facility to denounce Apple’s policy and to insist that they won’t – as some suggest the iPad maker was hoping – defect to its iBooks store. '

Not surprisingly, though, many regular users were not aware that the link that led to opening the Safari browser to go to the bookstores was just the web-location of the online store.  All that's needed is a bookmark on the device that will take the e-reader owner to or to etc.

  But the inconvenience of having to close the reading app first is not intuitive and has been annoying.  EReader owners wind up irritated at both the app and the suddenly not so magical or revolutionary device.

Tight reins: "Staff employed by Kindle rival Kobo have complained that Apple’s rules even prevented them from explaining why store links have been removed from apps.

That is what happens when you become the richest company around, with $76 billion sitting there and apparently not growing fast enough for comfort.

WallSteetDaily: Is Apple About to Lose its Gatekeeper Status?
Juatin Fritz points out that the Financial Times decided to ignore Apple, withdrew its app and released a [web-based] HTML5 app last month, explaining, "There’s not a single thing we couldn’t do in HTML5 that we could do in our native app [for Apple]."

HTML5 allows coding language developers "to create rich, full-featured webpages" without requiring plug-ins like Adobe Flash.

  Apple has been counting on increasing adoption of HTML5 to provide features that Flash currently does, since Apple doesn't recognize Adobe Flash.
  But now, HTML5 may be helping other companies grow their extra features outside that walled garden tended by Apple's heavy thumb.

  Fritz reminds us that "Mobile developers for the iPhone and iPad can use HTML5 to create applications, too. So instead of storing apps on a mobile device, developers can run them on the web." and adds:
' Tech publisher, VentureBeat, says, the “HTML5 movement has so much momentum that it could defeat the native app — an application that’s designed to run on a single platform — in as little as two years.” '
  Developers won't need permission to upload their own apps online, and HTML5 programs can also be used offline, functioning in areas with no connection. They can run on any operating system.  "So instead of customizing apps for each platform, developers only need to create one universal application."

  The Google Books app doesn't seem to be back in the Apple store, Fritz says, and "starting in August, Google will start supporting all of its web apps, like Gmail and Docs, with HTML5."  He adds that Microsoft announced in June that it was going to HTML5 in Windows 8, and Pandora is making the switch also.

  So, we see a couple of escape routes, with apps for the fast-growing Android market and with HTML5

Amazon announced in December their coming Kindle for Web, which will allow full text of Kindle books to be read in your web browsers - no download or installation required.  This will also allow the usual features - synchronizing of your libraries, last page read, bookmarks, notes & highlights, with your other devices.

 And, Amazon adds, "bookstores, authors, retailers, bloggers and other website owners will be able to offer Kindle books from their own sites, let their readers start enjoying the full text of these books instantly, and earn affiliate fees for doing so."

Photo credit: Communicatrix

Kindle 3's   (UK: Kindle 3's)   K3 Special ($114)   K3-3G Special ($139)   DX Graphite

Check often: Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.  Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published non-classics, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

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  1. I don't know precisely why, but reading an ebook in a browser doesn't seem appealing at all.

    Regards, Don Lloyd

  2. Don,
    True for me too.
    But I think it's just a convenience thing, when you're out and about and want to read a few pages on your 'smart'device. That it syncs everything and keeps any annotations is nice.

    There will still be apps for the other devices and if Apple decides to bump the other stores off, their customers will still be able to keep up with their quick-reads.

    Will want to take a look at what the FT app is like but that's a paid subscription. Don't know about their free trials.

  3. Don, Andrys, HTML5 has features that would allow you to use the app to read offline, and sync the next time you go online, just like a native app.

    HTML5 could be just the thing to defeat Apple's monopolistic practices. Steve Jobs hates the web, because it can't be controlled. It is one of the territories that Apple doesn't go (how many Apple websites and web apps do you know?). He eliminated the Flash Player, supporting HTML5, but hoping to boost the adoption of native apps. Mission accomplished, so far. But HTML5 could turn and bite his rear end, if enough developers and users adopt it.

  4. Corneliu,
    Yes, agreed. I mentioned that "HTML5 programs can also be used offline, functioning in areas with no connection."

    And that this can make app developers and users less dependent on Apple's whims.

    The syncing when connected is definitely a plus, as you say.

    Thanks for stressing and confirming the offline reading mode aspects.

  5. Google Books app was gone for a short time but it is there.

    For an example of a web app for reading ePub books, see If you set up an account, you can upload ePub books (without DRM) and then read them from any iOS or Android device with the web app, or in any browser with the web reader (the latter even works on Kindle 3).

    Amazon's Kindle for Web is not a web app, but presumably Amazon could leverage some of that work to create a web app. It looks like K4Web in its current form does not support Topaz format (at least I've been unable to find examples), so unless they solve that issue, it is not going to replace the need for native apps. And before K4Web can support viewing of full book content, they will need to at least obfuscate the HTML code—right now the content is all there for the grabbing (using browser HTML inspection tools).

    And unless iBookstore improves its value proposition dramatically (selection, discovery, prices, portability/device support are all inferior to Kindle/Nook/Kobo), I don't think this change is going to drive many ebook sales to Apple (if that's what they are hoping for), and while iBookstore sales are probably growing as fast as those of other vendors, I think it will be difficult to prove how much of the growth is due to the policy change. It's absurd that there can be no in-app 'how to purchase' instructions.

  6. Tom, I was surprised it took Google so long but they did announce they'd eventually take their links out. Thanks for the confirmation they finally did it.

    I remember blogging about reading Google Books, webwise, with the Kindle 3's web browser -- awkward but doable. You commented with some good tips (as usual), as I remember.

    I would like Amazon to forget about Topaz-formmated books, as I just hate seeing them on my Kindle -- they never look or act right - and the publishers apparently don't test them out very well for customer reactions. I find them awful.

    iBookstore appears to be ignored by S. Jobs as he doesn't seem content-focused when it comes to reading, mainly focused on appearance and trying to get max market-share by brute force rather than content-focused attraction.

    The unwillingness to let other vendors explain the lack of a purchase option is a sign of weakness that I didn't expect but it's just a weakness of mindset, since Apple is certainly a strong company. It'd be nice if Steve Jobs just realized that and relaxed.

  7. Unfortunately Topaz format books tend to be unavailable in any other digital format, and they do not convert to other formats cleanly (many were not that 'clean' to begin with). So unless the publishers decide it's worth their while to pay someone to do what should have been done in the first place (conversion to mobi/epub), Amazon has to maintain support for the foreseeable future. There are probably at least 10-50,000 titles in that format. Arguably, it's better to have a book available than not, and as bad as some of these are, there are even worse azw books for sale.

    There are a few reading apps, still in app store, that still have store links: Bluefire, txtr, and their clones. Wonder what will happen with them?

  8. Tom,
    All very good points!

    Re the other reading apps, maybe they'll stay under the radar :-)

  9. This is silly and short-sighted on Apple's part. That said, all of this handwringing and complaining about going out to the web to buy books on Kindle is out of control. Who cares? Buy your books on and shut up about it.


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