Books go mobile this holiday season

Books go mobile this holiday season

With the explosion of tablet readers and e-book technology for smartphones, literature (and everything that can mean and anything loosely related to it) has extended itself into the digital realm in a way that isn't just (the second most popular book on Project Gutenberg's website) — it's interesting to art lovers, avid readers, and even librarians.

Here's a shortlist of literary downloads for when you feel the need... for read. While I had hoped that an app dedicated to disseminating graphic novels might have a better interface, ultimately has a broad selection, ranging from larger comic book publishers (like Marvel) to indie one-offs. (I looked for some illustrated fan-fic; no dice, but like Agent Mulder, I want to believe.) And it's a social platform, with a feed that announces who's reading what, which is sure to keep comic fans in touch in between conventions.

Nieves: The Zurich-based art zine powerhouse makes it so that you can hold digital editions of zines like Mike Mills' Children with Skeletons in your hands — which would be hard to do IRL, given that Children with Skeletons was published six years ago in an edition of 100. It's a boon for avant-nerds who've been lusting after the one that got away and novelty seekers who want to discover fresh talent. The app itself is free; downloads of zines start at $.99.

Beinecke Podcasts: The Beinecke is essentially an epic hub for all things book. While a lot of its offerings are available through the Yale Digital Collections project (and are more than worth checking out, as it were), their podcasts feature talks by curators, poets, and historians — making it a neat soundtrack to whatever it is you might be reading (or viewing) on your iPhone.

Booktrack: Backed by a cadre of Silicon Valley semi-tycoons, Booktrack is a new addition to the "enhanced e-book" category. Booktrack generates sound effects and music based on the content of your ebook, designed to improve your reading experience and make it more engaging. Because sometimes hitting shuffle just doesn't do the trick.

Badlands Unlimited: Technically an e-book publishing company that also publishes hard-copy books, DVDs and discs, as well as editions. Founded by artist Paul Chan, Badlands Unlimited basically holds the market for conceptual e-art books, like Blank Notebook (a downloadable blank college-ruled notebook for iPad) and Phaedrus Pron (a limited paperback and unlimited e-book that experiments with custom fonts and typesetting to further eroticize Plato's dialogue on love. Whoa.)