About twelve hours after iOS 5 was officially released, I went through the considerable bother of downgrading my iPad 2 back down to iOS 4.3. iOS 5 was a great update, but for me, it had one fatal problem: it broke my beloved Stanza e-reading app irrevocably, and going without Stanza on my iPad was as impossible to contemplate as living without Mail or Safari.
For Stanza lovers, the situation is extremely frustrating, because Stanza breaks so totally under iOS 5 that you can’t even load an ebook without the app crashing. However, the original developers can’t update the app, because they sold it to Amazon.
When Amazon originally bought Stanza back in 2009, they promised they weren’t buying Stanza just to kill some of the free competition to their own Kindle e-reader. And, in fact, Amazon has updated the product several times since 2009, notably to bring excellent iPad support to the app.
But with iOS 5, Amazon appears to have abandoned all support for Stanza. That’s particularly frustrating, because not only was Stanza the best non-commercial e-reader around, it had many features the competition still doesn’t have: for example, its excellent typesetting and formatting options, its wide range of supported formats and its killer swipe-to-dim feature, which makes reading ebooks easier on the eyes.
Sadly, Amazon seems to be avoiding all questions in regards to Stanza’s future, having given Macworld the silent treatment when asked about what will happen.
So it appears that Stanza is now dead. However, by most reports, MegaReader is a pretty good replacement, especially considering the fact that the developer is going after Stanza’s marketshare by adding Stanza’s features to the app as quickly as possible. The only problem is MegaReader costs a couple bucks, but that seems like a small price to pay to get most of Stanza’s unique features back.
I suppose Amazon was bound to kill off Stanza eventually. After all, it seems pretty clear buying the app in the first place was just a way to acquire talent and technology; the app itself never helped Amazon’s bottom line. Still, just what a bummer.