ICUE & mBooks

November 17, 2006


Yesterday I was given a fascinating demonstration of ICUE, an application which allows ebooks purchased from the ICUE store to be read on a mobile phone. There are three reading modes: a simple down-scrolling page, a sideways-scrolling ticker, and ‘flicker’, which flashes a single word at a time, at a speed of your choosing. The latter is surprisingly comprehensible, and apparently allows much faster reading than a person’s norm.

According to Managing Director Jane Tappuni, ICUE is popular with lots of people who wouldn’t normally be big readers; kids especially. She made the good point that while for many adults, reading off a screen is difficult and annoying, for many kids it’s all they’ve ever known. There’s very little difference between reading an ICUE ebook and reading a text message, and a good mobile phone reader may have great benefits for general literacy. A friend also made the good point – which applies to ebooks in general – that those deterred by thick, heavy or intimidating-looking books are less likely to be deterred by an electronic file.

The ICUE store currently contains a few hundred books, most of which are in the public domain but there is intended to be an increasing number of frontlist titles from major publishers. The bookstore is a bit of a chore to use, but the download is a fairly hassle-free procedure. There’s also a list of books available on the website, although here again the organisation is fairly poor, and there are no blurbs or other information about the books. At £4.50 the books are not cheap – ebooks of many of these titles are available elsewhere, significantly cheaper if not entirely free – but future new releases should provide better value, and it will be interesting to see whether a proposed, linked charity [PDF Press Release] does encourage schools to provide or even pay for text books for their students.

Unfortunately the downloaded books can only be read with the ICUE application – they can’t be transferred to a Sony Reader or onto your computer for example – nor can you read third-party files, which is a pity. That’s because ICUE books are stored in a proprietary format, which ICUE refers to as mBooks, something regular readers will know we’re generally opposed to. But if it gets kids reading, we can’t but applaud. I’m going to download a couple of titles and see if it improves my night bus reading; it’s certainly easier than cramming a paperback into your pocket.

1 Comment

  1. Have a look at BookMuncher which does the same thing on PC, PDA and Mobile for any text file. The big advantage it that it is not restricted, so you can create your own content, out of copyright content or purchased content and read as normal.Mobile version is under test with one major Mobile Network for launch in spring, so you can create a file at home on your PC. dock or Bluetooth to your mobile and then read on the train on the way to work
    Why not try the FREE download from the website Jon

    Comment by Jon Bunston — November 28, 2006 @ 5:14 pm

Comments are closed. Feel free to email if you have something to say, or leave a trackback from your own site.