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Book Apps vs. eBooks

What are ebooks and app books? It can be confusing. Distinguishing between the two can seem frustrating at first. I'd like to explain from my own experience how I define between the two.

What Do They Have In Common?

Firstly, they do have a few things in common: both contain stories and images, they are available digitally on hand held devices and computers, etc.

What Is The Difference?

A short and simple explanation: I would say it is in the level of experience. The level of interactivity (multi-touch vs. reading and static images only).


An ebook is a digital version of a printed book. You have the text and/or images. You can highlight, bookmark and turn the page. Some ebooks are designed so that it can read to you or you can record your own voice. But that is pretty much the extent of the experience.

Book Apps 

Book apps, on the other hand, do all the above as an ebook but also allow the reader to experience interactivity that is beyond just reading or being read to. The key word is: interactivity. The multi-touch screen allows the user to engage in various ways: tapping the screen, tilting the device, swipe the screen, touch and drag, and an interesting interaction, which I have not seen used as often, blowing into the microphone. Each of these interactions trigger an action within the story.  Either an animation or sound or both.

The book app goes beyond the reading experience and feels far more engaging, combining the senses of sight, audio and touch; touch interactivity, sound effects, visual effects. I have heard book apps being described as a "book on steroids". The level of interactivity is way beyond that of an ebook. The book app can contain other activities that allows the reader to engage beyond the story its self with added features such as: puzzles, color book, mazes, match pictures, games, dress up characters, and the list goes on, limited only by the imagination.

So for those who are interested to create their own digital book, whether it be an ebook or a book app, this differentiation is good to know and understand. Just like, if you have a robot that can dance and then you have a robot that can dance, leap, sing, do cartwheels, spin, oh and fly to the moon.

This knowledge helps to know in the process of planing and designing when you want to create an ebook or book app and save time and money from submitting to Apple if your book happens to fall into the ebook category. A very important information to keep in mind is not to overwhelm the child with too much interactivity. Plan out each page and apply appropriate action/behaviors in the app so there is a nice balance.

From my own understanding, the market is huge for book apps. Book apps make learning ten times more fun for children. Reading today, can be far more engaging and interactive by combining ways to present a story that involves the three senses: Sight (animation, moving images and texts), audio (sound effects) and touch/blow-in-mic (Interactivity). 

Understanding The Market

I believe children are far more quick learners when combining the way they are engaged. The digital book app allows this. Learning can be multi-dimensional, dynamic, interactive, engaging. Not flat and not, yes, sometimes a bit of a boring experience. The attention spans of kids these days are less and less. This is why the length of words for a children's story is commonly recommended to be narrowed down to 600 words or less, for picture books; nearly half of what it used to be in the past.

Finding eBooks and Book Apps

You can find ebooks in the app store sometimes but Apple has set it up so that ebooks are sold on iBooks. I find most ebooks on sites like, where I can download to my kindle reader. There are ereaders that allow you to read directly on your desktop or in a browser and on electronic devices. However, that doesn't make it an app. Book apps are in most cases, stand alone and run like an application. Apps are found at the app store or app section.

Examples of ebooks
Visit the iBookstore.

Examples of book apps:

Apps that allow you to read ebooks:

 For a technical explanation go HERE.


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