Mobile Sands

February 8, 2009

Will Apple Allow Amazon to Sell eBooks on iPhone?

Filed under: App Store, eBooks, iPhone, Netbooks, Smartphones — AJ @ 2:17 pm

Amazon recently announced that it would offer eBooks on mobile phones, in addition to offering them through its eBook hardware, Kindle.  Though, this should put a damper on discussion about “Kindle killers” , will people who flocked to the Kindle substitute it for its software version? More importantly, will Apple allow Amazon to bypass its App Store using “1-click shopping”?

 The “Amazing Kindle”

 Amazon’s Kindle device is absolutely delightful.  It solves practically all the problems that have plagued eBook readers in the past.  

  • Lighter than a paper book with a nice, rubberized grip on the back
  • Convenient page turning buttons mean that you can read with one hand (and hold your coffee mug in another)
  • No-glare screen, thanks to the guys at eInk
  • Wireless, 1-click purchase, over Sprint’s EV-DO network that Amazon calls Whispernet. No need to download books to a PC, and then sync.
  • A huge collection of books including recent bestsellers (Read Outliers – cover to cover – in 4 hours)
  • A battery that seems to last forever (if wireless modem is turned off)

 eBook Readers on iPhone

 Books have become a prominent category on iPhone, prominent enough that Apple recently released an advertisement on reading.  Though reading on the iPhone is not as enjoyable as reading on the Kindle, it is still very nice.  The big draw for me (and for many others) is the off-copyright, free content that is available through iPhone book readers.

 Two eBook distribution models have appeared on iPhone so far:

1. eBooks as Apps: Publishers convert books into Apps that get distributed through the iTunes store.  Several publishers including O’Reilly, Penguin, Sterling and Lonely Planet are trying this route. Startups like Scrollmotion have emerged to help established publishers.  And lots of small companies like CoolGorrilla are creating fresh books around travel and language learning.

2. eBook readers that allow you to purchase books:  One such reader, Stanza, for instance allows a user to buy books from sellers like Fictionwise and Smashwords, as well as download free books from Feedbooks.  Fictionwise offers its own reader as well, called eReader. Shortcovers, a division of Canada’s Indigo book sellers, wants to go down the same route. Though their reader has been getting rave reviews, but is somehow unable to make it through Apple’s approval process.

Will Apple let Amazon sell eBooks through an iPhone App?

Apple would clearly prefer the “eBooks as App” model.  That is where Apple makes money. As evidence, consider the fact that even though Stanza and eReader are the #1 and #3 most popular free apps in the book section of the App Store, they are not mentioned in Apple’s ad on reading.  And Shortcovers has been mysteriously stuck in Apple’s app approval process. 

I would be surprised if Apple approves an Amazon app that lets users make “1-click” purchases. If eBooks ever become a multi-billion dollar market,  Apple would be handing over hundreds of millions of dollars to Amazon (a rival in the music business).  Apple may also have the tacit support of publishers in preventing Amazon from dominating the eBook market.  While Apple takes 30% of an app’s selling price as a distribution fee and lets publishers set the selling price, Amazon has a heavy influence on setting the book’s price and is rumored to take 3565%.

Amazon, of course, understands this and that is why its spokesperson did not name the devices on which its reader will run.  If Apple approves Shortcovers,  it will open the door for Amazon. Otherwise, it is going to be Android or Windows for Kindle’s reader software…









1 Comment »

  1. […] iPhone today. A few days ago, it had allowed Indigo Books’ Shortcovers eBook store.  In a previous post, I had speculated that Apple may not do so and try to sell eBooks itself. Not so.  In the last two […]

    Pingback by Apple allows Amazon to Sell eBooks on iPhone « MobileSand - Amit Jain’s Blog — March 4, 2009 @ 3:35 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: