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Popping the Hood on the iPhone Missing Manual App

Over on Teleread, Chris Meadows has a nice review of our iPhone Missing Manual app, which echoes several other reviewers (and my own personal experience with the app):

How helpful is the book? I have already found a lot of remarkably useful information just in the space of a few chapters. It would be no exaggeration to say I learned things over the course of a couple of hours of reading that I never learned in months of iPod Touch ownership.

But the neatest part of the review is the tutorial Chris provides for popping the app open and getting at the EPUB content inside:

Once you’ve unzipped it, it can be read in ePub-reading software such as Adobe Digital Editions (looks flawless) or FBReader (formatting a bit messed up), or even synced into the iPhone version of Stanza by sharing from Stanza Desktop. (Though as the book is almost 9 megabytes in size thanks to all the illustrations, the Stanza app may choke and require a reboot the first time you load it, but after that it opens fine. I suspect the wrapper version of Stanza is optimized for the book’s large size.)

Chris is right that the electronic version available from oreilly.com is $24.99, compared with the $9.99 app (on sale right now for $4.99 in conjunction with the TOC Conference), though our “ebook bundle” includes EPUB, PDF, and Mobipocket formats, along with free updates. That said, we’re tracking sales and price data across formats and platforms, because it’s clearly a critical issue. The App Store has provided an easy way to measure price elasticity of demand, and that’s just with one app!

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Comments: 2

  1. I bought the missing manual app, and as an author of such books (iPod and iTunes for Dummies), I think there is a better way than using an e-book format.

    I developed and published an app that not only puts all the iPhone instructions in your iPhone, but also lets me update it every day without having to update the app and without leaving a large footprint in the iPhone.

    “Tony’s Tips for iPhone Users Manual” is $2.99, available in the App Store. Just search for “Tony” and it pops up, or go to:

    Although I am respectful of e-books and PDF (and was there when John Warnock introduced it) I have never been a big fan of using PDF for reference works that need frequent updating.

    I would like you to consider doing reference books this way, and I would like to work with you on this. Let me know what you think.

  2. i bought tony’s book (when he mentioned it in the comments
    on a new york times article that was discussing pogue’s book)…

    haven’t looked at it yet, but i’ll let you know what i think of it.

    i am _not_ “respectful” of .pdf — i resolutely hate it —
    and yes, one of the reasons is that it’s not agile enough,
    for lots of things, one of them being ease of updating…

    doesn’t mean i think tony’s method will be better, though.

    i’ll give my honest opinion about that too, after evaluation.