Random House bring ebooks to the iPhone but forget about value for money

3 June 2009

With e-reading still very much in its infancy on this side of the Atlantic, publishing giant Random House have dipped their toe into the water with the launch of a series of ebooks through the Apple store, designed to be read on the iPhone and iPod Touch.

While we twiddle our thumbs and wait for a UK launch for Amazon’s nifty Kindle e-reader, not to mention the iPhone version, which is also US-only, Random House’s offering is a nice little diversion, with six titles available now and more to follow, some with added, enhanced content.

There’s also some super-sexy features such as screen rotation, font adjustment, digital note-making and automatic bookmarking. Even with all that, you’d assume that you’d be able to download the books for a reduced price, you know, seeing as how there’s no traditional paper, printing or distribution costs involved. Think again.

Stuart Maconie’s recent ‘Adventures On The High Teas’ is one of the launch titles, and can be yours in digital form for… £10.99. The paperback copy of the book retails on Amazon for £7.19. Meanwhile, James Patterson’s new ‘8th Confession’ (hardback on Amazon for £9.49) is available as an ebook for the frankly ridiculous £17.49. Ooof!

In principle, the idea of reading a book on your iPhone is a great one and Random House have grasped the opportunity to make a big splash in the fledgling e-reading market. But for as long as they’re pricing their titles so highly, enhanced content or not, we’ll stick with the tried and trusted bookular form that has served us so well for… well, hundreds of years. After all, you can't kill a wasp with an iPhone.

TOPICS:   Mobile   Technology


  • Noghar
    when you talk about font rotation etc I presume you're referring to the ebook software rather than the stuff Random House is trying to flog. Ebook Reader, the most poular ebook program for the iPhone, is free, but getting ebooks onto it costs money - it's designed to complement booksellers like Random House selling overpriced DRM restricted shite through online stores. If there are any iPhone or iod Touch users who want to try out ebooks they should get Stanza, which is also free. It has all the same features re font and screen brightness and page turning as Ebook Reader but it accepts a far wider range of formats and will even convert them for you. If you were the unscrupulous type who downloaded books instead of buying them - and at these sort of prices from Random House many readers will be prepared to dispense with their scruples - you will find that Stanza can read all sorts of texts, convert them and zap them to your iPhone quicker than you can sneese, almost. (Stanza has a corresponding PC suite that does a lot of the work - also free.)
  • Andy D.
    As I understand it, the book reader is part of each Random House book that you buy. Eg; you don't get the reader and then install books on to it - you get it every time you buy a RH book. Or, to use your own words, "overpriced DRM restricted shite" Great Stanza tip though.
  • Tom P.
  • Luke W.
    Sorry, somehow I seem to have clicked through from Bitter Wallet to this "We think the iPhones fuckin' amazing, so much so we've just creamed our iPanties so we're going to post 12 stories a day about it, ooooooooooooh" BLOG, i'll press the back button, see what happens...

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