June 7, 2010

Stanza v. Kindle in a battle to the death


Thursday at 19:36 Marc Prud’hommeaux, founder and chief developer at Lexcycle, the creators of the Stanza e-book reader, announced, via his blog, the exceeding strange news that the Stanza e-reading app is now, against expectations, available on the i-Pad. Read his note in its charming entirety here.

Why strange? Charlie Sorrel in a commentary at Wired repeats the consensus that “Amazon had bought out Stanza only to kill it and reduce competition for its own Kindle for iPad,” adding,  “It turns out we were wrong.” (Wired’s headline, “Stanza for iPad Adds Comic-Book Support,” is a portent that may distress book publishers as much as or more than e-book innovation.)

In short, it seems that Amazon, which owns Stanza, has again produced an app for its arch-competitor Apple’s device which makes of the i-Pad an e-book reader superior to Amazon’s own Kindle. Of course, e-books from Amazon cannot be read on Stanza, as this post explains on Lexcyle’s website (on the i-Pad you will need Amazon’s Kindle app — also free).

Sorrel calls Stanza “our favorite iPhone e-reading app ever” and it has another fan in CNET’s Scott Stein, who in a review calls it “a longtime favorite of iPhone and iPod Touch users.” (iPhone and iPod Touch are both less than three years old. I wonder what the original meaning of  “longtime” was.)

Here is a summary of some of Stanza’s i-Pad app features:

1. It’s free.

2. Supports “an amazing amount of font, spacing and color customization.” (CNET)

3. And PDF and DjVu documents: “DjVu allows for the distribution on the Internet and on DVD of very high resolution images of scanned documents, digital documents, and photographs.”

4. Supports full color Comic Book Archive files CBR and CBZ, “and it’s fast.” (Wired)

5. “You can also share e-books (or any file in Stanza) via e-mail….E-mailing a CBR comic file directly from Stanza is easy.” (CNET)

6. “Stanza 3.0 also reports itself correctly to the iPad OS, telling it that it is ready to open EPUB files. This lets you open books direct from the web or found elsewhere on the iPad, such as in email attachments or inside Dropbox.” (Wired)

7. “Unlike the Kindle and Barnes & Noble apps, Stanza can still browse Feedbooks, Project Gutenberg, and several other book collections directly within the app.” (CNET)

8. “[A]ny e-books you may already have in Stanza can be gotten out and copied to your computer” (Wired)

9. “Stanza incorporates page-turning that makes the experience just like other e-books, but without requiring conversion.” (CNET)

10. Turkish & Bulgarian translations.

Dan O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Melville House.