Baker & Taylor has just made it easier to check out and download library ebooks. They’ve just announced axisReader, a new reading app for Android, iPad, and iPhone which is integrated into B&T’s Axis360 platform.
AxisReader enables library patrons to instantly borrow and download ebooks in Epub and PDF. This app can also import and read DRM-free Epub ebooks and it should be able to read ebooks encumbered with Adobe DE DRM, though I have not tested this.
The app includes the basic features we’ve come to expect in reading apps, including search, dictionary lookup, bookmarks, and notes & highlighting. Readers can also share excerpts via Facebook, Twitter, or email.
In addition to the basic features, axisReader also lets users change the formatting to suit themselves. According to the settings page, readers can change the font size, text and background color, line spacing, alignment, and font face. The app also comes with 11 preset color themes as well as a night mode.
I have found the apps in Google Play and iTunes (no link, sorry). Baker & Taylor has also indicated that links to download the apps will soon be added to the Axis360 portals found on participating library websites (here’s one).
Axis 360 was announced in 2011, and it was originally intended to only support Baker & Taylor’s Blio ebook format. But in the years since Axis 360 launched B&T has stepped back from the decision to only support their niche ebook format.
Axis360 has supported Epub and PDF formats since October 2012, a sign that ereader owners are still a critical part of the ebook reading public. And with today’s news I think it is quite clear that the Blio format has lost the format wars. The axisReader app doesn’t support Blio, only Epub and PDF.
Blio was originally conceived as a rich ebook format, which probably sounded like a unique and marketable feature when the format was under development in 2009 and 2010. Unfortunately that didn’t work out because Amazon, Apple, B&N, and others responded to Blio by adding richer formatting and other advanced features to Kindle, Epub, and iBook formats.
Today’s launch could be a sign that the Blio format is on its way out. Market pressure brought on by the dominance of the Epub format is pushing Baker & Taylor to offer greater support for Epub. There could come a point where it no longer makes sense to support the Blio format, and if nothing else the ongoing development costs might no longer be considered as being worth the expense.