Stephen Fry, renowned comedian, actor, blogger, podcaster, and writer (and also the voice of the British Harry Potter audiobook editions), has recently released his memoirs, The Fry Chronicles, in the form of a £7.99 (about $12.50 US) iPhone or iPad app called “MyFry” (not a universal app; the two versions must be purchased separately), in addition to the usual (UK-only so far) iBooks and Kindle e-book versions. (Apparently the iBooks version is enhanced with video, though the Kindle one is of course not. I suppose that’s one way for Apple to differentiate.)
The MyFry app is less a traditional e-book than a sort of organized method of skimming by theme or keyword, which leaves a sour taste in the mouth of reviewer Sam Missingham for the FuturEBooks blog. Missingham feels that the app loses a great deal in foregoing the structure and flow of a traditional book. He writes:
I don’t think that ebooks are about ‘apps’ they are about easier and more relevant consumption of books. The Amazon edition would be my first choice. I could read it on a dedicated Kindle, or via apps on my iPhone, iPad, Android phone, PC, or Mac. I buy the content and I get to choose the device. Or the iBooks edition lets me choose between two devices that I’m never far away from. The myFry app limits me to the iPhone on top of the uncomfortable formatting.
The app does seem a bit expensive for what you get. Presumably an e-book would provide a better reading experience for about the same or a lower price. (I can’t say for certain, however, as the e-book does not seem to be available to American readers yet on either Amazon or iTunes. Bah, region restrictions.)
Meanwhile, Fry himself is bullish on the future of the e-book but bearish on the future of bookshops. During a Twitter-based interview, Fry said that he thought the future for bookstores might be bleak:
Fry, a noted technophile, was asked by Sarah Taylor (location Strawberry Hill, Twickenham) what he thought "about new technology such as iPads/E-Books potentially destroying bookstores?" Fry responded on Waterstone’s own Twitter account: "I think there’ll be a hell of a culling, as there was of farriers and blacksmiths when the car came in. But not total".
Fry has always been a gadget lover and tech-savvy commentator, and it seems clear he’s at least paying attention to the e-book world. Whether he’s right or not, he’s certainly been making a splash in various e-book news sources over the last few days.
Here is a three-minute interview segment of Fry talking about the e-book and “MyFry” app, and why he likes e-books.