Two More iPhone Book Apps: Shortcovers and Iceberg
Walt Mossberg for the WSJ has written a review of two new iPhone apps that let you read books. Shortcovers is a new application from Canadian bookseller Indigo Books & Music that will be out in February. Iceberg is a new app from Scrollmotion that launched with titles from several bestselling authors including Stephanie Meyer, Christopher Paolini and Philip Pullman.
Shortcovers is the more ambitious and creative of the two. At launch, it expects to have 200,000 shortcovers -- chapters or other free excerpts -- available. About 50,000 of these also will be available for purchase as full digital titles; the rest can be ordered as physical books. Of the digital titles, roughly 15,000 to 20,000 will be older or public-domain books, and the rest commercial books. Typical book prices will be between $10 and $20. If you want to buy paid shortcovers -- say a chapter of a business or travel book -- the typical price will be 99 cents.
The key aim of Shortcovers is to get people to discover new works. So it emphasizes community features such as rating, tagging and sharing. It even allows people to make "mixes" of their favorite works and to upload their own writing. The Shortcovers catalog is a riotous mix of classics like "The Three Musketeers," current titles like Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers," and blog posts and magazine articles.
Iceberg's claim to fame is its handsome appearance. It has just 14 titles available now, including the "Eragon" fantasy trilogy, and each must be downloaded as a separate app, which risks cluttering your iPhone with icons. The company is promising thousands of titles eventually, and has signed deals with major publishers. Prices hover around $10 or $11, but range to $27.
Walt Mossberg said, "I found that reading books from these two services was OK, but not nearly as satisfying as reading them on a dedicated, large-screen device like the Kindle." The iPhone may become more a Kindle threat if the large iPod Touch rumor becomes a reality.