Thursday, February 19, 2009

Is Stanza a Threat or an Ode to the Kindle?

After hearing murmurings that the iPhone application/electronic book reader, Stanza, was going to pose a threat to the Kindle's success, I decided to give the application a whirl and see how it stacked up. It didn't. In fact, the only thing that I liked about the application was its name, as it's apt. A stanza is about all I wanted to read on it. The relatively tiny iPhone/iPod screen has the glare of a computer, which is fine if you are using it like a computer, but annoying if you are using it like a book. Also, the fact that you are reading off your phone makes it difficult to read for pleasure as the medium itself is the antithesis of relaxation.

Additionally, as David Berlind pointed out in his recent post, Bezos already hinted at the fact that Amazon plans to make the Kindle books available on other 'mobile devices' which means that Stanza will quickly live up to its namesake (the poetic stanza) and become obsolete. If only they had named the company, EZ2READ maybe it would have fared better in a world that prefers acronyms to iambic pentameter.

Stanza's only hope now is that it can figure out some way to team up with Amazon when Amazon decides to make Kindle books available on the iPhone. In all honestly, however, the only thing this will do is put the Kindle on a higher pedestal as it shines in comparison. Stanza, once a threat, now an ode to the Kindle.

email me at andrea@bobarra.com

www.bobarra.com


3 comments:

kaline said...

Wow. I totally disagree with this. In fact, I sold my Kindle because I could read the same books I was reading on it using Stanza. Granted, the screen size is no comparison, and there's no dictionary, but other than that, I don't care and I got to sell my Kindle for $400. I wasn't a big buyer of Amazon books via the Kindle as I just read the classics via Feedburner, so take it for what it's worth. I have no problem reading off of it, as I can adjust the font size to whatever I want, and I've got a boatload of books I've downloaded to it...again, the same ones I had downloaded to Kindle. Plus, it's got a backlight, so I can read it easier in bed. The Kindle didn't offer that.

I guess the thing for me is that I always have my iPhone with me, and having Stanza on it is a huge bonus. The Kindle, for me at least, was another thing to tote around, and I didn't use it as much as I was using my iPhone. For the iPhone, Stanza is awesome and I highly recommend it. Comparing it to the Kindle is a little unfair, as I can use my iPhone for a lot more things than I could use my Kindle for. Kind of an apples to oranges comparison, in my opinion.

But, yeah...if you compare it based on screen real-estate, then, yeah...duh...the big Kindle kills the iPhone. But I can't put the Kindle in my pocket.

BTW...I've read more books on my iPhone with Stanza in the same amount of time than I did with the Kindle, for what it's worth.

Don't get me wrong, I liked the Kindle, but I don't agree with your "review" of Stanza.

Noam said...

From what I understand, the iPhone is the most popular device for reading books these days, despite the visual advantages of epaper screens and the iPhone's form factor. I know at least one iPhone user who reads books with Stanza and has no complaints. As a design student, I've always had a problem with the Kindle's horrible typography and (at least pre-Kindle 2.0) poor resolution. The iPhone's screen actually has better resolution than most computer monitors, giving superior font rendering (plus, if you can read a PDF on the iPhone it doesn't change the fonts on you). I guess ultimately the preferecen is going to vary widely between users, depending on what they value more in a mobile ereader.

Alan Swartz said...

I am eagerly awaiting for the arrival of my Kindle 2 next week. I have been reading books on a variety of PDAs and Phones over the years and after seeing the kind of displays dedicated readers have I decided to switch. A bigger display that is easier on the eyes. The fact is I expect, that like others, I will be increasing the amount of books I read online.

Sure, the Kindle doesn't "fit in your pocket" but I rarely go anywhere without a bag of some sort. Also, I prefer to use my phone for phoning and texting to keep from running the battery down too quickly. For the same reason I carry a little Samsung media player with me when I want to listen to music. The one gadget for everything isn't there yet. The iPhone, in particular, is a remarkable device, but I just don't see it being my primary reader.