Penguin Books India has launched a mobile app for iPhone and Nokia Symbian devices, that offers information on all books published and represented by Penguin Books India, and can be downloaded free from Apple’s iTunes App Store and Nokia’s Ovi Store.

Unfortunately, the app is not an e-book reader, neither does it offer any links to e-book stores such as Amazon’s Kindle or Apple’s iBooks (which offers only free titles for India). It is more like a catalogue, offering information related to available books from the publisher, best sellers lists, forthcoming titles, news, events and press reviews.The app also offers excerpts from selected book titles, however we don’t like the slider controlled page navigation style.

On clicking on a book title, one can get a brief description of the book and its selling price, there is no additional information such as the ISBN, type of binding, number of pages, which could have been added. Also, there is no social network integration to share book titles with friends, except a “Stay Connected” section which redirects to the the Penguin India Facebook, YouTube and Twitter pages, from within the app. The app in its present form is just like a mobile website, and we see no reason why it had to be in the form of a native app.

Nikhil adds: don’t see why I would download what isn’t even a complete catalog, let alone an ebook reader.

Suggestions:

– Penguin should add more information on book description pages including ISBN, type of binding, number of pages, date of publishing and language.

– It can allow users to create wishlists, and offer integration with Twitter and Facebook.

– In case books are not available/out of stock, it should allow users to set alerts, in case the book becomes available.

– The app can feature a Favorites/Bookmarking tool for users, for later reference.

– Perhaps it can also offer book availability and price information from leading online and offline book stores, and a link to buy the digital/hard copy version. Penguin’s website features an e-store powered by online book seller uRead, why not integrate the samein the app?

– The book excerpts can feature a simple page turn mechanism, rather than the slider.