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Dear Authors, Your Next Book Shouldn’t be an App

There was another editorial on TechCrunch yesterday, and the author (like Paul Carr) has been caught up in the iPad hype.

If you, as an author, see the iPad as a place to ‘publish’ your next book, you are completely missing the point. What do you think would have happened if George Orwell had the iPad? Do you think he would have written for print then copy and pasted his story into the iBookstore? If this didn’t work out well, do you think he would have complained that there aren’t any serious-readers anymore? No. He would have looked at the medium, then blown our minds.

Needless to say, I think she’s wrong. Whatever you spend to make that app will be spent in a small, highly competitive market. There are 4 billion apps in iTunes right now. What makes you think your app will stand out, or that you’ll make a return on the investment? BTW, most of the material created to enhance the ebook cannot be sold elsewhere; there is no other market. (Okay, you could post the content on a website, but wouldn’t that undercut the app sales?)

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Kevin April 12, 2010 um 3:03 pm

I don’t get it, you refer to digital (ipad) books as apps? If this is what you mean I don’t really understand your point. Fact is, an ipad book isn’t an app. Just like a song or albums from the itunes stores isn’t an app. You can just use the apple bookstore (just like the kindle book store) to sell your book in a digital version next to a physical one.

Obviously there are tons of apps (well actually about 1500 for ipad right now), but it isn’t about apps, it’s about books. To me it feels like you’re saying not to sell a book on Steam (the digital game platform from valve).

Nate the great April 12, 2010 um 3:18 pm

I’m sorry, but you’re wrong. Go look at the "Books" category in the App Store. Almost all of the titles listed are not ebooks but apps (there are a couple technical exceptions) in that they are free-standing pieces of software. The difference between an app and an ebook is that to make an app, you wrap software around the contents of an ebook and then submit it to the App Store. The software is there so you can display the ebook.

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