Over the past few months I have seen more and more eBooks accepted into App World and I am not sure what to make of it. I just checked the Reference & eBooks section of App World is now the LARGEST category of “apps” in
App eBook World. It has more than doubled (it was 2661 now 6100) since I last checked in October of 2010. At first I thought it could not hurt to have eBooks in App World but RIM really needs to quality control these submissions. Its not like we are seeing bestsellers available in app form. I decided to do some digging into the influx of eBooks and found something disturbing…
One developer, For-Side.com Co. Ltd., has 4358 “apps” in App World (vendor link seems to be from Tokyo). Keep in mind App World has 20,057 total “Apps” as of when this article was published. I would not mind if these apps were actually good but they seem like spam. From the selection I have checked most of the eBook “Apps” from For-Side look like out of print public domain eBooks that you can find on many websites free like Project Gutenberg.
It gets even more annoying once you realize that many of these books are actually the same book split up into multiple “Apps.” For example, we have Mark Twain’s “Following the Equator” split up into 8 different apps. We also have eBooks like “A Popular History of Ireland : from the Earliest Period to the Emancipation of the Catholics” both in one complete “app” and again split up into two parts.
RIM is not the only App Store to have such a problem with spamware/crapware but for RIM 90% of it seems to be coming from one developer. At first I thought the “Apps” were mostly free but only about 130 of them are free. The remaining 4230 are all paid “Apps” with the most popular being An Unsocial Socialist for $2.99 which is public domain and free on Project Gutenberg.
What I really wish RIM would do is create a free ePub, a free and open e-book standard, reader for BlackBerry that can simply download these works from Project Gutenberg. If not RIM they maybe they could simply help Keeper promote his free beta BePub ePub reader. It would be time better spent on RIM’s part and could be more popular than the relatively unnecessary BlackBerry Radio app.
So what do you think? Do eBooks have a place as separate apps in App World? How about charging money for Public Domain eBooks? Should one developer have more than four thousand apps? Let us know in the comments!