A Waste Of Effort: Amazon to Market Books on Apple iPhone

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Ryan Anson / AFP / Getty

The Apple iPhone may be good for a lot of things, but reading electronic books is not one of them. The screen on the device is so small that trying to read War and Peace would make most people over 30 go blind.

That is not stopping Amazon (AMZN) from marketing its ebooks on the Apple handset. (See pictures of the cell phone.)

According to The Wall Street Journal, "Amazon.com Inc. plans to release a program Wednesday for reading electronic books on Apple Inc.'s iPhone, extending Amazon's sales of digital books to devices beyond its Kindle e-book reader."

Magazine and newspaper publisher Hearst recently released its own publication reader and Dow Jones is marketing products to allow people to see The Wall Street Journal on the small screen.

So far, Amazon's sales of its Kindle ebook reader have been modest. Estimates put units sold in the fourteen months since the device was introduced at 500,000. That's not much for a product endorsed by Oprah.

Analysts would be wise to remember that most books are read by old people. Readers under 30 are scarce. They were raised on spending time on PCs and playing video games. Many are under-educated and can barely read at all. Asking people who wear reading glasses to spend a lot of time trying to make it through a book using a small screen is not much of a business.

Douglas A. McIntyre

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