A new publishing company is betting that readers will bypass electronic readers such as Amazon's Kindle and Sony's Reader in favor of reading bite-sized stories on mobile devices they already own.
Ether Books will launch at the London Book Fair on Monday, and will offer a catalog of short stories, essays and poetry initially via Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch, by authors including Alexander McCall-Smith and Louis de Bernieres. Well over 1 billion mobile phones are expected to be sold worldwide this year, compared with just a few million e-readers. Apple alone has already sold more than 85 million iPhone and iPod touch devices, and has just launched its iPad tablet PCs. “The tech press may be slavering over the iPad, Kindle and Sony eReader as traditional publishers leap over themselves to expand their e-book offerings,” Ether Books Digital Director Maureen Scott said. “But at Ether Books we've made the decision to go straight to distributing short works via our iPhone app to devices people already own, are familiar with and are happy to use when they have 10-15 minutes to spare.” Scott previously worked for British technology group Psion, was a director of U.S. mobile Web pioneer Openwave and managed the development of the first airline consumer self-booking reservation product at British Airways.