How m-books Could Change Reading

The day of the m-book (e-books on mobile phones)  is rapidly approaching.  Recently one of the founders of LexCycle, the company that makes the Stanza e-book reader for iPhone, recently spoke at a Book Publishers Northwest meeting.  Stanaza’s numbers are impressive.  In a very short time, over 100,000 titles have been converted into Stanza books.  And there are now more than 1.3 million readers using Stanza on iPhones.  And Stanza has added some distribution muscle by teaming up with two major retail partners, Fictionwise and Smashwords (both of which also provide e-books in other formats as well). 

Stanza iPhone App Review – AppVee.com

LexCycle was purchased by Amazon in April.  Unlike the Kindle, it uses the open standard epub format for its e-books.  With the purchase of Stanza, Amazon may be hedging two bets – the popularity of reading books on a large form factor, single use device in a proprietary format versus a multi-function, small form factor, standard format mobile phone.  Single function mobile devices have an annoying habit of becoming obsolete.

The success of Stanza has me wondering – how will the spread of m-books change the way we regard books and the manner in which we read?   

Size won’t matter.  As books go digital, the notion of personal library becomes something you carry in your pocket.  It’s no big deal to have thousands of songs in your iPod; why not thousands of books on your iPhone (memory permitting).

We’ll need reading management apps.  Gigantic personal libraries means we’ll need apps to help sort it all out and find what we need when we need it. 

Read me a story.  When its difficult to read, we can switch to an audio mode.  Every book will come with two modes – text and audio. For example while commuting on a crowded bus or train,or in your car (there is already a controversy starting to brew about people reading books on their mobile phones while driving).  

Books will become more social.  Finding and texting interesting book snippets to friends will be easy.   

Books will be processed, as well as read.  Processing book content with other apps.  For example, clicking on a location mentioned in a title and using Google maps to view the locale.  Or mark inspiring passages and have them shown to us periodically. 

Perhaps none of this will happen.  It may be that the biggest change m-books will have is simply to make us read more, if in a different manner.  With libraries and educational institutions leading the way, books are being reconceptualized as downloads and reading as an app.   

A Reading Revolution – CBS News


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