Saturday, 29 May 2010

Stanza and Deliver!

One of my favourite apps for the iPhone is Stanza, the e-reader from Lexcycle .

The app is highly customisable, with multiple fonts, colours and backgrounds and gives you several options for page turning, scrolling, or swiping to a new page. Second in reading experience only to Classics, it plays a trump card with an in-app link to several sources of books to download, including the Books on Board and Fictionwise eBook stores, and free downloads from Project Gutenberg. Once purchased, your downloads are manageable with a little help from the lexcycle support forums, and the Stanza desktop program. In fact it was so good that Amazon bought them out.

Although Amazon promised not to kill Stanza, there has been a deterioration in user support. There hasn't been an update in a long time, which is a shame, because better file management and ability to transfer several epub files as a batch would be very useful. It doesn't look like there will be an iPad version, and running text rich apps on the iPad is not satisfactory: expanding Stanza to fit the bigger screen renders the text virtually unreadable.

There is also a big problem with the bookstore.

Books on Board have an impressive library, but recently introduced region based restrictions which they dont bring to your attention until you try to buy something from them. Forgive my ignorance, but aren't shops meant to sell things to customers, even online? Why can I order a book online from an America bookstore, but not buy that same book in electronic form?
They also keep a record of your purchases so that you can download them again at any time - a fantastic idea, since computers crash and hard drives fail. But what has really wound me up is that they have now retrospectively introduced geographical restrictions on these too, so I am no longer able to access the books I HAVE ALREADY PAID FOR!

Of course, I have everything backed up locally, but I am pretty pissed off about this. eBooks were meant to be a boon for consumers, not a hassle. We were meant to be able to carry hundreds of books round on compact devices of our own choice, but how can we do that if we aren't allowed to buy their books? It's not even as if are cheap. Considering there are no printing overheads, I would have expected to pay less for a line of code than for a physical book, but then I'm not a copyright lawyer or a bookseller. There is more to come on this subject, but first I need a nice cup of tea, and the subjugation of Abingdon is on my to-do list for this afternoon!

- Blogged from my iPad

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