Look Out, Amazon: iPhone Gets Real E-Books (AAPL)


While Amazon’s sold-out Kindle is missing in action this Christmas, Apple’s iPhone is becoming a more attractive e-book reader: NYC-based ScrollMotion has just started selling the first of many e-books it’ll sell via the iPhone app store, including big-name books like Philip Pullman’s “The Golden Compass.”

While there’s plenty of e-books for the iPhone already, ScrollMotion has two advantages over its rivals: A gorgeous, feature-filled e-reader app called Iceberg and deals with several major publishers, including Random House, Simon and Schuster, Houghton Mifflin, Penguin, and Hachette.

Will the iPhone replace books — or even a Kindle? Not for serious readers — the screen is small, the battery life is iffy, etc. But we could see book snackers reading a chapter a day or so — or a magazine, or travel guidebook, or reference materials — on their phone or iPod touch. Especially if Apple starts selling a bigger-screen “iPod touch HD” of sorts someday.

One downside: Some of ScrollMotion’s publishing partners mistakenly seem to think that people will pay anywhere near (or more than) hardcover prices for an iPhone book. Knopf, for instance, is charging $28 for Christopher Paolini’s “Brisingr” for iPhone. This is where Amazon’s (AMZN) subsidy gives the Kindle a real advantage — the Kindle edition of “Brisingr” is $9.99, and even the hardcover is just $16.50 at Amazon.

But if publishers keep putting out good titles — and start charging sane prices, which some already are — we think there’s a bright future here. Which would be good news for the publishers, good news for ScrollMotion, and good news for Apple (AAPL), which gets a 30% cut from all iPhone app sales.

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