In January I wrote articles about the wonderful way Amazon’s Kindle app works on non-Kindle devices to allow cross-platform reading of Kindle eBooks. Using the Kindle apps on other devices (iPad and iPhone have been especially popular) has advantages over using the Kindle device, such as easy highlighting and note-taking. It was ironic. then, that it was just a week after I wrote that news came out that Apple would be putting restrictions on the use of the Kindle app on the the iPad and iPhone. While it’s not clear how much this will restrict use of the app on Apple devices, it seems likely to diminish their use.

With a relatively small number of titles available on the iBookStore, Apple is not in the business of providing content, unlike Amazon, with its KindleStore, and Google, with the Google eBookStore. So, with so few books of  its own, it’s surprising that Apple is putting restrictions on Kindle app users, instead of encouraging them — Hey, Apple, it seems like Amazon is helping you out!

Kindle apps on the iPad have been immensely popular, as described in my previous article, and the reaction to the new Apple policy has been strongly negative. A tweet by @fienen on Feb 15 highlights this (boldface added):

The content wars continue. Apple may have played the wrong card here. Big time. Official: Apple locks down the Kindle app http://ow.ly/3WVcP

On the same day as this tweet, an article in CNNMoney reported recent remarks by AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, in which he called Amazon’s Kindle e-reader app the best business decision of the past decade, which made Amazon “‘the poster child’ of the cloud computing movement” — I don’t know about that, but I’d say the Kindle app certainly showed Amazon’s astuteness about the eBook cloud environment.

I think the future of eBooks is going to belong to the one who can bring together the devices & computers with the best collection of books. Right now, Apple has the devices and Amazon has the most books. So get with it, Apple — Amazon has opened up it’s books to play with your devices, so how about reciprocating?

What will Google do?

Looming over the spat between Apple and Amazon, of course, is … Google. As I said in concluding my previous article about the Kindle app ecosystem, “imagine the possibilities if Google puts their attention to doing something like this for their collection of public domain eBooks” — Bringing together the devices (Android tablets) and the books (Google eBookstore) in Google’s one big house.

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumsey

The screenshots below are from Google Books, showing the link to the Google eBook version in the blue box to the left, and the formats available for downloading, in the upper right. The “Settings” box in the center is pasted from the Google eBook record, to show the connection between download formats and the versions available in Google eBooks.

In the first example, both PDF and ePub formats available for download in Google Books.  Correspondingly, in Google eBooks, Flowing text and Scanned Pages are available.

In the second example, only PDF format available for download in Google Books, and in Google eBooks, only Scanned Pages are available. Note that this is indicated in the blue box in Google Books with the note that the Google eBooks version is “Better for larger screens” (circled in red) – i.e. the PDF version is not good for mobile devices.

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumsey

How does Google Books relate to Google eBooks? Here’s one interesting little indication — For a full-view, free, public domain book, the URL is identical except that the Google Books version says “books” …

And the new Google eBookstore version says “ebooks” …

This makes it easy to compare the record in Google Books and Google eBookstore — Just add an “e” in the URL!

Notice here also that Google is making the connection between Google Books and the Google eBookstore, by putting the blue box with the “Get it now” button in both versions.

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumsey