Posted on by & filed under ebooks, html5, ibisreader, toc.

Like many people, my first reaction to the news that Apple blocked the release of the Sony iOS ereader was to assume that Sony had tried to circumvent the long-standing rule that content purchased inside an iOS app must be mediated by Apple’s purchasing system (and 30% cut).

It may now be the case that there has been a policy change to require the presence of in-app purchasing whenever content can potentially be purchased. This potentially affects many applications, but ereading apps would be particularly hurt because of small margins on ebooks and the added complexity of agency pricing.

When I conceived of Ibis Reader, I thought the primary value of an HTML5-based ereader would be cross-platform availability. When the project kicked off in mid-2009, there were no versions of Android that actually supported HTML5; by the time Ibis launched in February 2010, compatible Android 2 devices were in stores. (Android still lags far behind iOS though, and overall we’ve been disappointed by the slow evolution of Android HTML5 support.)

Now it’s clear that HTML5 offers a more substantial benefit than cross-platform compatibility: ownership. Serious businesses take years to evolve; many of the ereading platforms that are threatened by Apple’s move are not even profitable yet. I would be very nervous about building a business with a long runway that could be rolled up at any minute.

Ibis Reader

That’s why we’ve decided to aggressively pursue licensing Ibis Reader in 2011. Our experience with our initial licensees has been overwhelmingly positive. Each new integration has strengthened the core platform and added valuable features, some of which are only available in the licensed version:

  • Full internationalization support
  • Secure content encryption
  • Performance enhancements and core platform updates

Because we offer source code licenses, the entire platform is completely customizable and entirely within your control. You may hire us to help integrate Ibis with your ebookstore or content distribution system, or take the code internally for your own use.

Our roadmap for the platform in the coming year:

  • Rock-solid, app-like performance
  • EPUB3 and enhanced ebook support
  • Annotations
  • Dictionaries
  • Strategic social-media integration

For more information or to schedule an appointment to meet with us at Tools of Change February 14-16, please contact us at


6 Responses to “The future-proof ereading platform”

  1. Mike Cane

    I told you Ibis would become very important months ago, as Apple started banning other books too. Now you’re at the head of the line. Good luck!

  2. Jonathan Rochkind

    This indeed sounds like a mess. Thinking about it from a library perspective, because I work in a library.

    Let’s say that a library, miraculously (cause we haven’t managed it yet), actually were able to license ebooks for it’s patrons. The library is paying for em. The patrons get to use em.

    But neither the library nor the platform vendor could provide an iOS app that, after authentication of some kind, let’s them read such licensed books UNLESS that app also let the user buy books on their own? From the same vendor, who might not even be set up to sell to individuals? Or even if they are, the library might not want to advertise direct sales and seem to be trying to get it’s patrons to spend more money, in a service meant to be part of the libraries value to the patrons without additional individual charge?

    What a mess.

  3. Liza Daly

    I certainly can’t speak for Apple, but I’d say that since there’s no payment associated with a normal library loan, this wouldn’t apply. The deal, as reported, is that if there’s a commerce transaction happening around the iOS app, it must also be possible to initiate that transaction inside the app.

    I totally agree with your larger point that there are insufficient choices for library ebook lending right now.

  4. Frank Lowney

    The Apple statement uses the word “same” in an ambiguous fashion. Do they intend that the price be the same regardless of how purchased (in-app vs out-of-app)? Obviously, most consumers will prefer out-of-app is that means paying 30% less.