Note: Also see Chris Meadows’ piece on ScrollMotion, submitted just before mine. – D.R.

I don’t care if ScrollMotion is the easiest e-reader on earth to use on the iPhone and iPod  Touch, which it may or may not be.

imageAll I know is that ScrollMotion will treat iPhone/Touch books like apps—despite the existence of a 148-app limit.

Is a fix from Apple on the way?  If not, major publishers such as Simon & Schuster and Random House might be in for a rude disappointment after signing SM-related deals—which, alas, they have.

Some consumers may want hundreds of books on their iPhones. Should publishers put such a crimp on their purchases? And will apps be the easiest things to organize into libraries? I’m open minded about the O’Reilly iPhone guide as an app, given its connection with the machine. But please don’t make an app of every book!

On top of everything else, ScrollMotion uses Apple FairPlay DRM. I thought Steve Jobs was backing off from that silliness. Now the word is that he’ll get a percentage of each sale. And this on top of censorship at the app store!

If Jobs and Apple screw up the iPhone as an e-book machine, will Stanza’s developers and others shift their focuses to Android phones?

An author’s viewpoint: ScrollMotion makes books into vendor-tied objects. I’d urge you to stick to ePub books, ideally DRMless, that you can enjoy on a number of devices. I doubt that ScrollMotion uses ePub. If not, it’s a big step backwards and will needlessly add to publishers’ expenses.

The media’s role: Will the New York Times and other major media sound alarms? Or just snooze through this threat to consumer rights and the durability of books?

Related: ScrollMotion site. Also see a statement from the Consumer Electronic Association: "Gone are the days when consumers purchased a single type of content, to play on a single type of device, exclusive for dedicated audio listening. Successful manufacturers are using formats that allow them to stay in front of consumers who are navigating across an array of content devices." If ScrollMotion will be only for iPhones—very possible—then watch out!

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  1. This is such a retrograde step – you wouldn’t buy movies or audiobooks bundled as an application, or music of course.

    Hopefully this isn’t exclusive and the titles will continue to be available in other formats as well.

  2. Hopefully this isn’t exclusive and the titles will continue to be available in other formats as well.

    My thoughts exactly – what happens when Apple decides that Stanza and other readers either compete with their offerings or allows free access to objectionable content and bans it/them from the app store and erases it from your ipod/iphone the next time you sync? It’s already happened with other apps that allow you to bypass the itunes store.

  3. Christo, Karen: Trust not in Apple. Remember how Jobs said he was backing off from DRM? And now we find he wants to turn a book, er, buck, off it—at consumers’ expense, since they won’t be able to own books for real. David

  4. I frankly rather doubt Apple can get away with removing e-book applications from the store. They’re too popular. There would be too much of an outcry.

    When Apple refused to allow that gladiatorial comic book because of violence, I believe they specifically told the publisher that they could create a stand-alone client and sell the content from their site instead. So apparently Apple doesn’t object to objectionable content coming from third parties.

  5. It’s been said already, but this is exactly why we need DRMless ePub.

    I have hundreds of eBooks in the ePub format that I can read on any machine, no matter what Apple does.

    I’m afraid that what will happen is that this will catch on then consumers will realize how much it sucks after they’ve invested a lot of money into it.

  6. I hope that ScrollMotion didn’t tell the publishers that they are protecting the books with Apple’s FairPlay DRM, because they’ll get in a whole lot of trouble. The books aren’t protected with any DRM at all: they are just plain HTML files in the App’s zip file. You can easily see this by purchasing the book on iTunes and unzipping the [Home Folder]/Music/iTunes/Mobile Applications/Twilight 1.0.ipa file (which is just a plain zip archive). In that zip file are 471 HTML files, one for each page, all completely unprotected by any sort of DRM or encryption.

    I expect there will be hell to pay if ScrollMotion told the publishers that their books were going to be protected by DRM.

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