While publishers, bookstores, and libraries are still struggling to develop, market, sell, and lend ebooks, yet another electronic book format enters the fray. This new format is the book app. Not to be confused with an ebook reader app, the book app is the book, usually including multimedia content.
Last month Publishers Weekly announced that Hachette released a David Sedaris app:
Humorous essayist David Sedaris now has an app. His publisher, Hachette, has unveiled the $1.99 David’s Diary app, for sale on iTunes and in the Android Marketplace, which features six animated shorts inspired by his diary entries. Illustrator Laurie Rosenwald, whose work has been in The New Yorker (among other places), provided the graphics and Sedaris narrates each clip.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica has long been available online, and now is available as an iPad app. Users can subscribe for $2 per month or $24 for a year. You can read more about the app at The Wall Street Journal or All Things D.
Children’s books are also moving into apps. Two recent iPad releases are Dr. Seuss’s There’s No Place Like Space!: All About Our Solar System and the holiday classic A Charlie Brown Christmas.
The examples above beg the question: How will libraries offer access to these popular nonfiction, reference, and children’s apps? Like ebooks, could the apps be offered as a limited-time checkout, after which they would stop functioning? Could libraries lend iPads and Android tablets with pre-installed content? Or will libraries simply be shut out of book apps altogether?