The ebook world might be all abuzz right now about Amazon’s Kindle 2, but top Canadian book retailer Indigo Books & Music is looking to bring books and other content to other mobile devices with the launch of Shortcovers, a new ebook service that puts books, magazines, and blogs on mobile devices people already own—like the BlackBerry Curve, Bold, and Storm, Google Android devices, and (naturally) the Apple iPhone. And users don’t have to get entire books: users can pick up free samples, purchase a chapter or excerpt for as little as 99 cents, or decide to buy the whole ebook—with an option to also buy a hardcopy version.
“We are at a tipping point in the publishing world. People are reading differently—they are reading on screens, in more frequent, shorter sessions—and are accustomed to digital sampling services,” said Indigo CIO and executive VP Michael Serbinis, in a statement. “Consumer behavior combined with the wide availability and popularity of high quality mobile devices inspired us to create Shortcovers, a destination where consumers can sample for free, purchase what they want, and read their favorite content on the go.”
Shortcovers offers a wide range of ebook titles from major publishers (including Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and Random House) at prices ranging from $4.99 to $19.99, and plans to rapidly expand its catalog by adding thousands of books per week. The service also offers a library of free public domain books, and plans to add magazines and newspapers to its offerings—Shortcovers will also offer a content subscription plan in “coming months.” Users can also share their favorite reads via services like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. Shortcovers’ mobile applications are also available online; the iPhone application is a free download from the iTunes App Store, while Shortcovers applications will also appear in other platforms’ online stores when they come online. Shortcovers says it also plans reader applications for Symbian, Windows Mobile, and Palm’s forthcoming webOS.
Shortcovers is a global service that currently accepts U.S. and Canadian dollars; Indigo plans to expand Shortcovers throughout 2009.