I have issues with the whole app vs ebook nomenclature, and it appears that the good folks at mediabistro have the same issues. Or not anymore, given that they are changing eBookNewser to AppNewser. You can still click on their eBook News link to get information specifically on eBooks, but they are widening their focus to include all kinds of apps.
So what should we call these THINGS we read to our children on our iPads, Nooks, Tablets or Kindles? Obviously the terminology is going to continue evolving with the technology itself, but as it is now, I think of “eBooks” mainly as books in electronic form. An eBook can be a file downloaded to a device or accessed online through a service like TumbleBooks or Bookflix. eBooks follow a linear narrative path, much like a tree-book, and you turn pages to progress along that path. Most of the time eBooks are based on books that have already been published in print (the good ones, anyway) but I think we’ll see more an more eBooks for kids that are only published electronically. eBooks can be a type of app (not if you’re viewing them through a website, though), but for our purposes, apps are more like games or activities.
The PC Magazine Encyclopedia provides the following definitions:
Definition of: app
(1) (APPlication) The term has been used as shorthand for “application” in the IT community for a long time. However, it became newly popular for mobile applications in smartphones and tablets, especially due to the advent of Apple’s iTunes App Store in 2008. It is just as correct to say “iPhone application” as it is “desktop computer app;” although app is shorter, and computer people love to abbreviate. See application, APP fileand App Store.
(2) (APPlication) In the engineering world, an app can refer to a circuit design, using the word “application” in the context of purpose. For example, “high-voltage apps” means high-voltage circuit designs. The term predates mobile software apps by decades.
Definition of: e-book
(Electronic-BOOK) The electronic counterpart of a printed book, which can be viewed on a desktop computer, laptop, smartphone or e-book reader. When traveling, a large number of e-books can be stored in portable units, dramatically eliminating weight and volume compared to paper. Electronic bookmarks make referencing easier, and e-book readers may allow the user to annotate pages.
Although fiction and non-fiction books come in e-book formats, technical material is especially suited for e-book delivery because it can be searched. In addition, programming code examples can be quickly copied, which is why CD-ROMs that contain the entire text of the work are often packaged inside technical paper books.
The major problem with e-books is the many formats competing for prime time, including Adobe PDF, Microsoft Reader, eReader, Mobipocket Reader, EPUB, Kindle and iPad.
All e-book formats have a search capability, but most do not support a direct dictionary lookup, which means if a person looks up the term “network,” all the definitions that contain the word “network” are retrieved rather than the single definition of that term. The results are akin to the mountain of results retrieved by a search engine.
Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iPad
In late 2007, Amazon.com revolutionized the e-book market with the introduction of its Kindle e-book reader and e-book inventory. The Kindle was the first e-book to offer free, wireless access to download e-books and search the Web (see Kindle).