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An Appetite for Apps?

Would you rather write a book or develop an app?

To judge from the number of apps being introduced each week – about 15,000, compared to 250 books and 100 movies released weekly worldwide – more people seem to have an appetite for apps.

The breadth of apps is breathtaking, from games to budgeting to e-readers to social networking. Mobilewalla.com, a site that tracks and organizes apps, has 65 pages of ebook-related apps. Many of them, of course, are portals of sort that enable tablets and smart phones to read a variety of ebooks (such as Kindle or iBooks or Google books), but many are also collections of short stories or even novels.

But anything that’s to be read that’s incorporated into an app needs first to be written. Just like a book. And anything that’s sold as an app needs to stand out in the marketplace. The marketplace for apps is as filled as that for books, and perhaps even more confusing – you can’t go into a brick-and-mortar app store and start browsing.

What this means is that you need a strong platform from which to launch your app, just as you do with a book. And you need to develop a voice for anything you write, just as you would for any kind of book you hope to create.

Sure, now there are something like a million apps for sale, all over the world, in a variety of languages. Just as there are something like a million books published each year in the United States alone. With anything you need to do something to stand out – not every app is going to go viral like Angry Birds, and not every book is going to be an out-of-the-gate winner based on hopes and dreams.

It takes work. It takes platform-building. Apps are not a guarantee of overnight success. Neither are books. But like books, apps can help you broaden your base and lead your customer forward into a dialogue with you.

But you’ve got to do the groundwork first, and create a web presence. Even an app presence. You’ve got to engage. And for that, you need to think about what your message is, what your voice is, what your audience consists of. You start by engaging, and you build on that – and just as with a book, when you’ve got an audience, you can begin to offer that audience something that it wants. Your expertise in a book. Or an app.

But first you need the audience.

So it’s not a question really of writing a book or creating an app. First you need to build an audience.

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3 Responses to “An Appetite for Apps?”

  1. Kirsten Nelson December 12, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

    It’s amazing to see how powerful apps can be. It takes reading and learning to a whole new level of interaction. You make a very good point, however, it’s important not to get so caught up in developing the best app of all time that you neglect to find your audience and meeting their needs.

    Thanks for the insights!

  2. Aldous Irving Jimenez-Echegoye December 13, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    For one thing, I love apps because it excites me.  No wonder many people download apps more than anything else.

  3. Michael Drew December 14, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    Its my position that ebooks are transitionary publishing instruments, I believe the future of publishing is apps.

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