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A Twist on Mobile Book Content

Book content (well, all content) is most definitely coming to mobile devices. (If you don’t believe me, consider that in Japan half of the top 10 fiction titles from the first half of 2007 were written on mobile phones.)

So far, much of the action has been around reformatting content to present it on mobile devices like the iPhone and the Kindle — how do you chunk it, how do you resize the text, convert PDFs, etc.

This reminds me of when newspapers first started publishing to the Web — the concern was about how to reformat the content to present on a new platform. But what most newspapers missed the boat on was to use the features of that new platform (the Web) that had no analog within print (like the hyperlink). And beyond just aggressive linking, there was an opportunity to build new ways to look at data that newspapers were used to just printing.

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So I’m excited that things seem to be happening more sensibly in the mobile space, where it’s not just about presenting content on a mobile device, but about using the features of this new platform (like location-awareness). As an example, a startup called LightPole just launched their public version, and among content that’s clearly a fit for a location-aware device (such as finding Wi-Fi hotspots and local drink specials), their early content providers include Heyday Books, which has made their Gables and Fables: A Portrait of San Francisco’s Pacific Heights available in LightPole’s platform. The important distinction here is that it’s not just the book on a phone — it’s location-based content from the book overlaid on a map.

The software’s only available on some phones and carriers, but they’re promising an iPhone version soon.

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