BusinessWeek reports on the current popularity of iPhone e-book apps, which now outstrip the number of game apps on the app store by over 1,600 titles.

The article mentions appbook creator Michel Kripalani of Oceanhouse Media, who switched over from games to e-books back when there were only 700 book-related titles in the app store. Now his company sells three of the top-ten most-purchased appbooks in the Apple Store.

By and large, the piece mainly talks about appbooks, with a mention or two of other programs such as the Free Books app from Spreadhouse that provides access to over 23,000 public domain titles, the impending iBooks, or even the Kindle Reader app. This is not too surprising given that the vast majority of those book-related titles are appbooks; still, it is a little disappointing that eReader and Stanza do not rate a mention.

One interesting point is how easy it has become to create appbooks now.

Using Mobile Roadie’s templates, publishers can create a book app in less than 30 minutes, for a $500 fee up front and $30 a month. Other publishers share part of their app revenues with developers. Some, including Lonely Planet, create apps in-house.

BusinessWeek thinks that e-book-related app sales for Apple devices might be disruptive to e-book readers once the iPad and iBooks have emerged. Standalone e-book reader adoption was expected to double this year, but analysts predict it may only rise by 30% next year.

I have mixed feelings about this. I have never been enthusiastic about appbooks, given that there would be no way for me ever to read them on anything except my iPod Touch. I much prefer an eReader book that I could read on my PC as well—or even a Kindle book, for that matter (since there is now a Kindle Reader for PC too).

And the vast number of appbooks placed into the Books category is frankly overwhelming; it is impossible to find anything of interest by browsing when there are literally thousands of pages through which to look.

On the other hand, there is no denying that the number of e-book apps has brought a lot of attention to the idea of e-book reading, and demonstrated that people do find the iPhone useful for that purpose even without an iPad available. Obviously, someone must buy those things.

And there is no mention of any possibility Apple might start rejecting e-books or e-book apps apart from iBooks. Indeed, the fact that the “Books” category is Apple’s most popular suggests it might be a bad idea for Apple to do anything of the sort.

We will see.


  1. The fact that there are more book apps than game apps doesn’t mean they are more popular – it just means that they are quicker to mass-produce. The BusinessWeek article notes that users are still downloading four times as many games as e-books.

  2. I buy two types of appbooks: 1) the bargain-priced O’Reilly computer titles – they have some amazing stuff there for about the price of a copy of People Magazine – and 2) kids’ books. Otherwise, the various reader apps do it for

The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail