Another ebook casualty?
Caveat lector. Good advice for any reader, but particularly when it comes to the fragile world of ebooks. Since publishers sign deals with certain distributors, but not others, one runs the risk of losing the ability to read legally purchased ebooks if a platform goes away or one buys a new device. Sure, ebook warriors would tell me just to reformat the books using some spiffy converter, which may well be possible in most instances, but, really, is that any kind of viable business model? I want to read, not manage my books.
The latest entry in the list of casualties of the ebook struggles may well be the once popular Stanza reader. Stanza was the anti-Amazon when it came out in 2008. Wired Magazine even named it one of the “10 Most Awesome iPhone Apps” for 2008.
Fast forward three years, and one wonders how such a successful app could fail to thrive. A recent code update for iOS 5 broke the app for iOS 4 users (it won’t even load for many), and the days pass without sign of any movement from Lexcycle, the firm behind the app. Their Website shows no updates since 2009, and the Twitter account (@stanza_reader) hasn’t been used since 2010. So much for graceful deprecation.
Unlike some of the reviewers now flaming Stanza for this failure, I’m not particularly upset. It was free, after all, and I was using it to read public domain works, so had no financial investment at stake. I did have something of a readerly investment at stake, however. I had become attuned to how the app worked (brilliant, to be honest), and had a number of books in progress when it borked out a couple of weeks ago. Nothing to get huffy about, but it is curious to see such a hot app dissolve into nothingness. Surely there had to be a way to build a sustainable business model here.