Wednesday, February 8, 2017 [Tweets] [Favorites]

I Wish Apple Loved Books

Daniel Steinberg:

I’ve joked that if Eddie Cue loved reading the way he clearly loves music, then iBooks, the iBookstore, and iBooks Author would be amazing. Not only aren’t they amazing, they aren’t even good.

It’s like they’ve assigned a committed carnivore to design the meals and cook for Vegans. You need someone who loves and understands vegetables and shares the commitment to not using meat or meat products.

[…]

I was an early embracer and adopter of iBooks Author. I could produce beautiful books. The software was initially frustrating but they improved it in significant ways early.

Then they stopped.

[…]

Yesterday, I uploaded my latest version of my book to Gum Road and to iBooks. Within minutes I was getting email notifications of sales of my book on Gum Road.

An hour later my book was approved for sale on iBooks. This is remarkably quick. It used to take days. I looked online and my book wasn’t on the iBookstore yet. Also, my name was still listed incorrectly.

Via Adam C. Engst:

After an initial burst of enthusiasm, both iBooks and iBooks Author have languished, iCloud Drive’s integration with iBooks is flaky, and the iBooks Store never recovered momentum after Apple was found guilty of ebook price fixing back in 2013.

Bradley Metrock:

So let’s think about that a minute. You’re using software called “iBooks Author.” What, exactly, are you authoring? Um…iBooks. Yet, for some reason no one can explain, you can’t say that.

[…]

Next, Steinberg discusses the interplay between the EPUB format, the iBooks format, and attempting to provide his readers with updates. He nails this - it’s unnecessarily clumsy.

John Gruber:

iBooks Author was announced in January 2012, when the iPad was two years old. The iPad itself, seemingly, would be a fine device for creating books with iBooks Author. But iBooks Author remains Mac-only.

Update (2017-02-09): Nick Heer:

iBooks Author was most recently updated in September; prior to that, it was updated almost exactly one year prior. That’s a glacial pace for an app, but it isn’t out of line with many of Apple’s other Mac applications.

[…]

I think there’s a tremendous opportunity that Apple is sleeping on.

6 Comments

I’ve joked that if Eddie Cue loved reading the way he clearly loves music, then iBooks, the iBookstore, and iBooks Author would be amazing. Not only aren’t they amazing, they aren’t even good.

It's worth saying that, out of context (and I'm not sure Steinberg ever does a great job making the distinction, so not blaming Mr. Tsai for clickbaiting; the proper context remains only implicit throughout the post), that quote makes it sound like Steinberg believes iBooks the app and its iBookstore for users is no good. His point is that it stinks for content producers.

The implication that the user side is no good doesn't hold water, I don't think. I read from Kobo, Kindle, Nook, Google Play, even a few third party apps, depending on where the deals are, and iBooks is my favorite. Clean, simple, quick to find popular books, at least, easy to buy from within samples without being naggy or spammy. With Touch ID, it's painless. And since it's easy to bag iTunes cards at discounts, I do most of my reading in iBooks now, I think, at least when their prices aren't strangely 25% above everyone else's (which happens with frequency). (Granted, if I didn't have iOS handy, iBooks wouldn't be nearly so useful...)

Of course the blog post is about an iBooks author -- their experience creating books and the trouble they might have putting the final product on the store. In that case, without any experience at all myself, Steinberg's claim that the man behind the curtain doesn't jibe with what I'm seeing projected from the app's final product as a user seem credible. ;^) And it's a shame.

But something I often look for to make sure I'm not being too biased in this era of maligning Apple apps & design is stuff Apple is doing well. If there's one thing I think iOS has gotten unabashedly right, it's iBooks. (Find my iPhone is up there too, as is Find Friends. Notes is getting there. But iBooks has been good for a while.)

@Ruffin The iBooks app itself is OK (annoys me how much slower it is to simply open a book), but I think pretty much everything else about the e-book experience is better with Kindle: the selection (perhaps because of the authoring and iTunes Connect issue), the Web store, the reviews, Prime Reading, ability to read on other devices and the Web, ability to save/export notes and highlights.

I have to agree iBooks is better for client than Kindle. I have far more Kindle books mainly because few academic publishers publish with iBook. Why? Because the tools suck. I've had friends who say their publishers complain mightily about iBooks.

But the Kindle app has so many limits not the least of which with metadata and notes. iBooks client, despite some problems, has been advancing. I love its integration with iCloud for syncing regular ePub.

"I think pretty much everything else about the e-book experience is better with Kindle ... ability to read on other devices and the Web..."

While I agree this is a truly key point, and the exact same reason I strongly prefer Amazon video services, I'd like to add my own pet hobby horse: the damn form factor.

Amazon makes dedicated e-readers. You can't read iBooks on a dedicated e-reader. Between LED lighting and weight issues, I can't even conceive of why any heavy reader would prefer iBooks. Form factor matters. (If iBooks were the only option for e-books, I'd go 100% dead-tree form factor.)

Amazon makes dedicated e-readers. You can't read iBooks on a dedicated e-reader. Between LED lighting and weight issues, I can't even conceive of why any heavy reader would prefer iBooks. Form factor matters. (If iBooks were the only option for e-books, I'd go 100% dead-tree form factor.)

This! So much this. If Apple made a Kindle like device, I would more seriously consider buying books there.

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