Today's announcement of the longlist for this year's Orange Prize for Fiction has been accompanied by the appearance of an Android app for Orange's Book Club. It's already available for Java, Symbian and BlackBerry handsets, but the iPhone version is being hastily rejigged, in the face of Apple's new rules on in-app purchases.
Orange says the new Android app has more than 23,000 ebooks and audiobooks available to browse and buy, charging you directly on your Orange phone bill.
Purchased books can also be read on other devices, including PCs. There's a dedicated section for longlisted novels in the Orange Prize -- which is the UK's only annual prize for fiction written by women -- along with previous winners, while the operator is keen to talk up its one-click billing system.
"Unlike many other ebook services on the market, ours allows you to purchase with a single click, making it easier than ever before to download your next must-read novel," says Orange's Stuart Jackson.
We have to admit to being fairly comfortable with the ease of use when buying ebooks from Apple's iBooks or Amazon's Kindle apps, but it's good to see Orange making its own store as unfiddly as possible too.
So, Java, Symbian, BlackBerry, Android... Isn't there something missing? Well, Windows Phone 7, yes. But also the iPhone and iPad. Why hasn't Orange launched its Book Club for Apple's devices, given that it sells them in its stores? It seems there's a story to tell here, and it relates to Apple's new rules in how iOS apps can sell digital content.
"Orange had submitted the Apple app at the same time as the Android app, but at the time of submission Apple changed their policy, so Orange is now changing their app to meet with that new policy," a spokesperson tells FutureBook. The new policy says ebook stores have to offer in-app purchasing options using Apple's own system -- they can't just push users to a mobile website like Kindle has been doing.
Apple is reportedly rejecting new apps that do that, and has given existing apps like Kindle a deadline of the end of June to change their ways or be booted off the App Store.
In any case, Android owners can get the Orange Book Club app now, either from Android Market, Orange World or from its website. The store has a dedicated category for books from this year's Orange Prize longlist, although with prices ranging from £4 to a whopping £17.99, we sense some will sell better than others.