Shortcovers Could Challenge Amazon’s Kindle

    February 26, 2009
    Chris Crum

You’ve probably heard a lot of hype about the new Kindle 2 from Amazon that people just started receiving this week. This isn’t the only news in electronic reading materials though. What if you could just get books delivered to your phone? That doesn’t sound too bad, and it’s exactly what Canadian Indigo Books & Music, Inc. is doing with its well-timed release of Shortcovers, which launched today.


The service is available for iPhones, Blackberries (Storm, Bold and Curve), and Google Android devices, which should make it pretty attractive to a great many consumers who already have these devices.  I asked EVP of Shortcovers, Michael Serbinis what he thinks will draw customers to the service over the Kindle. "We believe Shortcovers is more attractive to consumers because it’s available on the mobile devices they already own. Shortcovers provides the convenience of discovering, experiencing and sharing favorite books, stories and articles, while on the go," he tells me. "It’s not just for the avid reader, it’s for anyone who wants to find their next great read."

"Our pricing options also make a lot of sense for consumers reading on their mobile devices-first chapters are always free and there’s no commitment to the whole book," he explains. "You can decide to purchase in bite-sized chunks, chapter by chapter, or buy the whole book. We give you the power to read what you want, how you want. We like to think of it as a bookstore in your pocket."

Essentially, you’re just getting eBooks delivered through apps to your phone, but they’re coming from major publishers with supposedly the newest and hottest titles. Random House, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins are each on board.

Users can read free samples, purchase excerpts for 99 cents or decide to buy the whole eBook, with an option to buy the hardcopy version as well. There are also sharing capabilities connecting users through Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and other social networks.

"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 Michael Serbinis, CIO & EVP of Indigo Books & Music. "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."

The Shortcovers eBook titles are priced in the range of $4.99-$19.90, and the service features a full library of free public domain books as well. They’re adding thousands of books each week and the company says it will rapidly expand the catalog beyond the top book publishers to include magazines and newspapers. Content subscriptions will also become available this year.

Long story short – this service and others like it that may emerge could spell trouble for the Kindle’s ability to truly catch on. A lot of people are going to be turned on by the idea of not having to carry a separate device to read their eBooks. Here are some images (iPhone version) to give you an idea of what you’d be looking at with the service:

Shortcovers on iPhone
Shortcovers on iPhone
Shortcovers on iPhone
Shortcovers on iPhone
Shortcovers on iPhone