Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The eBook Wars Continue . . .

Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope (1977 & 2004 Versions, 2-Disc Widescreen Edition)In the continuing saga in eBook land, another salvo was made today. In case you lost track of where we are in all this mess (and who could blame you?) allow me to recap:

First, you've got a mess of eReaders. Some of them are dedicated readers (the Kindle, Nook, Sony eReader, Kobo, etc.) Some of them are multitaskers (the iPad, iPhone, etc.) Or you can just use whole computers (laptops, desktops, netbooks, etc.)

Second, you have eReader software. This usually corresponds to a flavor of eReader. So you've got Kindle Reader, Kobo Reader, iBooks, web browser applications--you name it. Most of these function on various devices: Kindle has apps for iPhone, iPad, computers and more.

But here's the rub: it's all about money. Up until recently, you could download a Kindle app on your iPad and use it to buy Kindle books using your iPad. Apple wanted none of this: it wanted a piece of the pie. So it banned apps that included links to take you to content that could be purchased outside Apple's App Store. (Apparently in hopes that this would divert sales to its App Store, where Apple gets a 30% cut of everything that's sold. No wonder they're making so much money.)

Kindle has now fought back with a new announcement today: the Kindle Cloud Reader. Using it, users can search, buy and read eBooks from a variety of browsers instead of apps. So you can use Safari on your iPad to use Kindle books.

I'm sure all of this makes sense to someone, but to yours truly, it all smacks a bit of kids playing on a playground and arguing over a prized toy. Next thing you know, we'll see news releases along the lines of "Apple: Liar Liar Pants on Fire."

I wish we could just skip this awkward eBook stage and jump straight to a uniform standard we all agree on, but that's just wishful thinking . . .

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