iPhone Application Developer Wins EBook Deal With Major Publishers

iPhone application developer ScrollMotion has struck deals with major publishers, with more deals in the works, to bring ebooks to the iPhone/iPod Touch. Publishers on board include Houghton Mifflin, Simon & Schuster, Random House, Hachette and Penguin Group. Titles that will be released are Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass along with other titles by Christopher Paolini, Brad Meltzer and Scott Westerfeld.

While ebooks have been available for some time on the iPhone, the ScrollMotion product represents an advance in approach. Each book is a standalone application, and the titles are newer, typically bestsellers, rather than lesser-known authors. The text of the book is protected by Apple’s DRM; what this means is that Apple has inadvertently entered into the ebook business via their app store. Although listed individually, each book is essentially a piece of mobile content, blurring the lines between content and application. This also puts the the iPhone/iPod in more direct competition with Amazon’s Kindle and the Sony E-Reader, both specialized devices that focus on ebooks/text.

ScrollMotion would like to see the organization of the app store evolve so that ebooks could be listed separately from other apps like games, and stored on the device in a separate location.

This approach, of selling content as an application, suggests a number of interesting ideas: podcasters could create an app that lets users purchase premium content, rather than just giving it away via iTunes. The lines between what is content and what is an application will get fuzzier.