A salute to Michael Stackpole

July 14, 2008

So the iPhone 2.0 is here, and with it a slew of reading apps. There are two approaches here: create a standalone ereader that can be used to read ebook files, or create standalone apps for each book.

The former is definitely better, and the reader of choice so far appears to be Lexcycle’s Stanza, an open epub reader that’s loosely tied to FeedBooks, enabling you to pull down a bunch of free ebooks directly, or search for a whole lot more. Getting ebooks (or any other files) onto your iPhone/iPod Touch is not easy however, which is where the standalone books come in.

AppEngines currently have a whole bunch of these in the App Store – the usual assortment of out-of-print classics and weirdness. They’ve swamped the Entertainment category, in fact, to the extent that they’ve posted an apology on their site: “We share your concerns that our ebook applications are taking up too much space in the App Store. … We will not submit any more books until the situation is resolved.”

No such apology from ZappTek however, whose Legends series of books are also highly visible in the App Store Entertainment category. But wait, closer inspection shows that all these books are by one author: Michael Stackpole.

So what’s happened here is that a single author (or friend of) has got a stranglehold on new, accessible literature on the iPhone. The iPhone is currently the most sought-after piece of tech on the planet. It stands a very good chance of leapfrogging the frankly rubbish Kindles, Iliads and Sony Readers of this world to become the default ereader of choice. And one man has seen that, and done something about it. It’s the literary equivalent of shouting FIRST! in the comments. I think he kind of knows it too.

Anyway, for chutzpah, genius, foresight: booktwo salutes him.

… and wonders why if it only takes one guy to craft a pretty good ebook delivery system *in time for the App Store’s launch* and get it out there, how long before some publisher fulfills their responsibility to the authors and readers, and does something similar? We want to read people, and while I have a lot of respect for Mr Catchpole, Serpent on The Station isn’t really my thing, but, as Peter’s noted, what else is there?

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