I’ve been intrigued by the Amazon Kindle ever since it debuted on Amazon.com in Nov. 2007. The e-book reader, with more than 225,000 books, magazines, newspapers and even blogs readily available for purchase, goes for $359 on Amazon and is almost always out-of-stock. (If Oprah says something is her “absolutely favorite thing in the world,” you know it’s got to be good.)
But when a friend recently told me she read the entire “Great Gatsby” on her iPhone for free via an application called “Stanza,” the Kindle allure started to fade. “Stanza” carries thousands of books and periodicals that can be downloaded on demand from the Internet on your computer. Book choices range from classic to contemporary works. Some are free, whereas others require a charge (The teen cult series, “Twilight,” goes for $10.99). But once a book is downloaded to an iPhone or iTouch, it can be read anywhere, regardless of Internet connectivity – airplanes and subways included.
The app also allows you to use virtual bookmarks to reserve your place (or you can skip around to different chapters) and even overrides the background color, font size and text color to fit your preferences.
Analysts debated how e-book readers such as the Kindle would effect book retailers such as Barnes & Noble and Borders moving forward, but I think cash-strapped consumers (especially now) might bypass the pricy gadget all together and wait until their phones can handle sophisticated e-book applications such as Stanza.
And I wouldn’t be surprised if retailers felt compelled to get in on the action by offering exclusive downloads for purchase on these e-book apps in the near future.