Thursday, July 10, 2008

That App Is A Book

Via Daring Fireball, this tweet from Raven Zachary:

Almost 8% of the apps on the [iPhone] App Store right now are individual public domain ebooks by AppEngines! Apple, please create an eBook category.
Wait, aren't 25% of the apps on Apple's App Store supposed to be free? So either AppEngines is charging for e-books in the public domain, or a full third of the "free" apps are actually books. [For the record, I can't find these books on the App store right now. UPDATE: From Kottke, a link; the books cost 99 cents.]

Wouldn't it be great, though, if someone created an e-book that really was an application -- like that mythical hypertext Ulysses people have been talking about?

For some books, maybe that is the answer: not a universal "iTunes for books," or a new format/framework like Sophie, but an individual application that gives you the tools you need to crack them, which wouldn't be appropriate for other books, let alone restaurant menus, phone books, or transit maps.

In any event, thinking of a book as an application, rather than a document, as something you use, rather than data that is used, seems productive, not just for e-books, but for paper books as well. The text (and/or images, etc.) is the file: the "book," from cover to paper to the way you read it, is the app.

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