There are several free applications for reading e-books on Apple devices available through the Appstore. They often work in conjunction with an e-store and some are branded after an equivalent e-reader. For example, The Nook App is from Barnes and Noble who also have an ereader called The Nook. Amazon provides a Kindle app (and has a Kindle ereader). Kobo has the Kobo ereader and the Kobo app.
Kobo, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and others have been forced to remove all store functionality from their Apple applications, and furthermore, have forced them to remove any hint that books are available to purchase.
Funnily enough, the iBooks application still has a store in place. This application, and the ebook store it uses, are run by Apple.
Apples’ desired response from this seems to be to drive customers to use iBooks, or alternatively, to force Kobo, Amazon etc.. to use the “Apple Subscription Platform” where the digital content (the books) are sold via Apple. To do this, Apple would take a cut of 30% and would take ownership of customer data (names and emails). A cut of 30% would pretty much represent the profit margin of ebook companies like Kobo and Amazon and the sharing of details is obviously contentious.
There were rumours that Google had removed their ebook reading app from the Apple appstore altogether, although it still seems to be there for me. But it is interesting to mention Google, who are gradually entering the ebook sphere as well as the cellphone software market via Android.
A couple of months ago, I predicted that Android (Google) would be the leader in the cellphone market, displacing iOS (Apple) within about 9 months.
In my opinion, this self-serving decision by Apple will only serve to lose them customers in the long-term. My next phone will likely be an Android phone.
Some interesting reading here, from the developer of the Kobo application:
Update: Kobo are coding an HTML-5 e-reader that you can use in Safari on your iPhone etc… which does not have to follow the Appstore rules (since it’s not an app).