Books as Apps

I was asked last week, why we do not publish books as “apps” — software applications which are targeted at particular reading device operating systems, like Apple’s IOS, or the Android operating system.

The first reason is cost. Building a software application, testing it, and getting it through the vendor approval process is a very expensive process.

The second, and in my mind much bigger reason is that software operating systems like iOS and Android are constantly evolving. Apple, Google, and others in the technology business are in an “arms race” to add features and functions to their software. Those “enhancements” frequently require applications to be modified to work on the upgraded system, adding more costs on the software development side. If you own a smartphone or tablet computer, you will have seen how often you need to download and install updates to existing applications; many of those updates are to accommodate changes in the operating system, and do not add much if any new functionality.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, we have plenty to deal with in the ebook world already, with the EPUB standard moving towards version 3, the Amazon AZW/MOBI standards added to with new, incompatible color tablet-specific standards for the Kindle Fire and HD devices, and Apple’s special iBooks format gaining some traction.

I think we have more than enough options to work with in the digital realm, without being tempted into the glossy but not necessarily profitable world of books as software applications.

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