Blog Post

iBooks App & iBookstore

The new Apple (s aapl) iPad, as widely anticipated, will have an e-book reader built-in to the device. The iBooks app displays a bookshelf of all your titles alá Delicious Library or the Classics iPhone app. When you tap a book to read, you can tap on the right or left edge to flip the page or drag the page manually. When looking at your bookshelf, there is also a button to the iBook Store to purchase books.

The iBookstore will allow for browsing and purchasing books on the iPad. What is exciting is that this new feature will rely on the ePub standard rather than some proprietary Apple format. ePub was developed by the International Digital Publishing Forum and works on several devices and platforms like the Sony Reader and Adobe Digital Editions for your desktop computer. You can think of it as the “MP3” of e-book formats.

Five large publishers (Penguin, Harper Collins, Macmillan, Hachette Book Group, and Simon & Schuster) announced support today and the store will be open to other publishers soon. Not surprisingly, McGraw-Hill was not on the list of large publishers today.

So is the iPad a Kindle Killer? I think the biggest advantage that Apple will bring to the e-book reader market is a reading experience that is on par with the Amazon Kindle, but on a multi-purpose device that will have wider appeal. Apple has absolutely nailed the relationship between devices and content stores in the past with the iPod / iTunes Music Store and the iPhone / App Store and I expect that the iPad will nail the e-book experience on both the device and the store.

Sure the iPad starts at $499 and the Kindle starts at $259 and the “E Ink” display is nicer to use outside, but I think a lot of people will consider the extra $240 well spent to get all the extra features of the iPad. When you consider that the iPad offers a full-color LCD screen that can also support video embedded in the iBooks app, I think the iPad will be the biggest e-reader device yet. It will just appeal to a wider audience. The Amazon Kindle is dead.

I am looking forward to curling up with one of these to see what the experience is like. I wonder if the Apple Store will stock the Maxell Blown Away chair that Steve was using on stage to go with it as an accessory?

143 Responses to “iBooks App & iBookstore”

  1. i have been trying to find a place on apple’s site (or anywhere else) where to sign up to PUBLISH an iBook and have it in the iBookstore when it opens.

    haven’t found it, even a week later there is no info whatsoever about this.
    this will be an amazing platform for independent publishers, especially for photography / color books like …
    http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/invited/624606/2a0191e9d29c09e226f0dffc12b31877

    would love to have it (or rather a smaller version of it) in the ibookstore when it starts…

    anyone have a contact for apple’s ibookstore?

    thanks
    tomas

    • I considered that, but I wanted to focus on the entry level pricing in this first take. I think the price comparisons will become a lot more clear as we get close to the iPad launch and we see how the market (Amazon in particular) reacts.

  2. You said videos would be embedded in iBooks app. Do you mean that the books in iBooks will have videos embedded in them? If yes, we can see a video in a small frame on some page of the eBook/ePub?

  3. Marshall

    The iPad will one day be very popular; Apple, Inc. is watching and listening. The biggest jump will be when text books are provided on iBooks and school and university book stores get involved with their own download percentages.

  4. Regarding the $15.00 per book, maybe they could have 2 tiered pricing. $15.00 while it in Hardcover release and then reduce to $7.00 when the book is issued in Paperback format. For the publishers, that would match what they do in the “paper” world and would make good financial sense in the eyes of the consumer.

  5. Thomas Wilkinson

    I say the more the merrier! It’s nice to have different options to choose for readers. I wish there is an online bookstore that sells ebooks synchronized with their audio versions.
    I can’t wait to see my favorite books, for example ‘Somewhere carnal over 40 winks’, available on iBookstore!

  6. I have a Bebook ! it dis[plays multiple formats and having e ink screen makes it very easy on the eyes . just like a paperback really.
    I can leave it on for a week and the battery doesn’t go flat as it only draws power when you turn the page. Ipad doesn’t compare to that even remotely.

    The only drawback is it is not in color.

    I think they should have put a second screen with e ink on the back maybe and it would be indisputably the holy grail of ebook readers. The extra cost would have been well worth it.

    Also i hear it isn’t flash compatible which rules out the majority of web based videos and applications (I hope this is not true).

  7. At $15 a book through the Apple book store compared to $9.99 for most new books at Amazon for Kindles, you certainly let that huge difference slip by without much comment. I think that pricing difference is going to mean a lot competitively. Consumers don’t like being ripped off.

    Also, Amazon has over 400,000 books available for download onto the Kindle, including many free books. I own a Kindle and an iPhone and can read my books on either.

    I want to know if iPad is going to allow book downloads from other than their own store.

    • I didn’t want to make too much of the pricing because at the time of publication we hardly knew anything. We still don’t really. Of course, there is no info on the Apple site about pricing and who knows if the values seen in the demo are all just placeholders or real prices. I’m eager to find out myself.

    • James. Braselton

      Hi. There. Wounder. How. Long. It. Would. Take. Too. List. All. 400,000. E-books. For. The. Kindel. That’s. Why. They. Don’t. List. Every. Book. Or. Ever. Website. At. The. Prsentations. At. Average. 4. Minutes. Per. Book. That’s. 1.7. Million. Hours. Of. Reading. Or. 1,700,000. Hours

    • I’m with you on the Kindle question. I love being able to go back and forth between my iPhone and Kindle. And I have quite a few books downloaded to the Kindle. I love the idea of everything in one place though.

      I really hope it has text-to-speech capability, and I hope that capability is a step up from what you get on Kindle.

  8. I love the fact that I can read books I buy from Amazon.com and eReader on the Ipod Touch. I hope I can continue to use those readers too, or at least use the new Ibooks reader for the dozens of books I’ve already bought over the years from eReader and Amazon. If not, I may just stick with the Ipod Touch and not move on up to the pad.

  9. awswilson2007

    Really…..it was just released yesterday. They are not going to give you all the answers in one day. Then there’s no suspense! Apple knows what they’re doing and how to keep the interest going!! These will fly off the shelves as they come out!!!

  10. A major key will textbooks. Imagine any college students who could download all their texts, use iWork for all the work they need to do and then have all the social and entertainment media in one device that will fit in a purse or book bag. Killer!!!

  11. Johan Hahn

    As the iPad has full internet access I might buy books at ebooks.com or at any other ebookshop worldwide. I’m not stacked to Apples iBook store. Question is wether the iPad allows me to read them in the same my Sony reader does.
    Maybe elswhere bought books ar not so nice on te shelf, but as long as I can read them that will be OK with me.
    What is also interesting is the 3g capability of the iPad. That makes the iPad a mobile phone too, although I have the impression that there is no phone app on the iPad. Something to develop?

    • There are rumors all over the net about iBook store only being for the US. Will this mean we won’t be able to download from outside the US even if we have a US iTunes account? I can purchase music and movies from the iTunes site from outside the US, but pay with my US iTunes account! This makes a difference for those of us who travel internationally a lot and spend months outside the US. Any inside info on that yet?

  12. henry blince

    So there’s no news yet on whether there’ll be an ibook app for the iphone, or whether you’ll be able to download ibooks for reading on something like, say, Stanza on iphone?

    • Nothing yet on iBooks for iPhone, but I suspect we’ll see it eventually. I just don’t see Apple passing up the opportunity to sell you digital content if you want it. Still, the best experience is definitely going to be on the iPad.

      I don’t see Apple allowing their ebooks to be used outside the iBooks app. You should be able to use 3rd-party books in their own reader (no reason that the Kindle Reader app won’t continue to work on the iPad, right?) or free ePub books in the iBooks app (just like you can use MP3’s in iTunes).

    • You’ll still be able to do your own docs with 3rd party apps even if they aren’t natively supported in the Apple iBooks app. Check out the GoodReader app for the iPhone. Of course, since iBooks supports ePub, I would expect that they would allow ebooks from other sources too. Otherwise, why not just use a proprietary format?

      There’s a filesharing preference that was present in the demo units today that might help with transferring documents too.

  13. Will you be able to place bookmarks on a page and take any notations in the margins? I haven’t seen any examples or news in regards to this. I think these little features would be a necessity when it comes to text books.

    I hope Apple will resolve some of these questions before it’s made available for purchase.

  14. I think it’s not quite time to call the Kindle dead. For one, it’s going to be difficult to read this screen for more than an hour before eyestrain sits in. That’s been the case for most readers on any backlit display. Second, the Kindle allows for your own files – txt, rtf, word doc, and pdf. We haven’t quite seen what the iPad’s ability is there (hopefully it will be akin to music on the Itunes, but give the bookstore and bookshelf are self contained in the iBooks app, maybe not…)

  15. What about newspapers? Kindle allows you to purchase a newspaper (and/or magazine) subscription that can have issues automatically pushed to the device. You wake up in the morning and your digital paper has already been delivered (to your Kindle). Will the iBook store offer something similar? Or will everything be pull only?

    • The Kindle magazines suck and they are done in ePub. I just want a standard PDF magazine – Pictures! – great layout – The new ePub standard works great for ebooks that are 99% print…but sucks for real rich graphic content publications. Ditch it and let us purchase PDF magazines from the store. That would get me to buy this device.

    • Rob Sewell

      Aw Nicole, do you really want Office? Flip to iWork for a better experience or even OpenOffice for a compatible but free experience! I have the iPhone and can read Word, Excel and Powerpoint on that, iWork for iPad will be brilliant on the larger screen. By the way, I work as a consultant and almost always edit or share Office files with my clients, but I always use iWork on my Mac.

    • Bob Roberts

      Some books will include audio. just buy audio books on the itunes store if you want them to be read to you. why would a mac use something microsoft made? they make keynote, pages, and numbers for the ipad which are like powerpoint, word, and excel. these are10 dollars each and will sync to the ones on your mac. all these applications are part of iwork.

    • Now really, you want something to read to you. those are called audio books, they already exist, for those who are visually impaired and those who cannot read. I am all for technology, I began looking here because I was interested in a similar device, but part of the reading experience is the actual READING. let me read on my own,with my own emphasis on what ever word i choose, let my imagination run wild with what my interpretation of the words mean. outside is good, but even by an open window there is a glare. i think text books are a great idea, less back pain and loosing one of the books, save a tree and all of that.

  16. RandomKey

    I want ! I want !I want !I want !I want !I want !I want !I want !I want !I want !I want !
    At $499 the notebook is obsolete , the eReaders and the smartphone for the smart folks. No more $100 phone bills just $30 talk $30 iPad web. Go ahead and close the Kindle factory.
    Nobody cares about reading in the sun BTW.

  17. I wonder what textbook selection will be available?

    If there was a large selection of book s made available (especially med and law school books!) this would be a killer device!

    I also wonder if we will be able to also somehow sync books to macbooks as well to read them on our laptops too??

    • wow i agree! if it covered all my textbooks in school i would drop everything to buy it… can you imagine walking to class with just a “ipad” and maybe a pen…. but it would cover everything! Note taking… internet…. email… im just in awe! im sure steve jobs thought of this. hopefully it all works out!

  18. @Lianne – We don’t have any information yet, but I would expect DRM on the titles purchased from the iBook Store. What you should be able to do is load any of the thousands of ePub titles without DRM on the iPad.

  19. So, going by the description, I *would* be able to buy books from the Apple bookstore and load them on my Sony Reader (505 – ePub capable). Very nice! Gives me a reason to shop from Apple without having an iPad (which looks very tempting, I will admit)

  20. David – Just a little tongue-in-cheek inside reference for those that have been following all the buildup to the event. I agree that they won’t keep anyone out of the iBook Store once it is opened up. There was that kerfuffle with Wiley over the iCon book, but I don’t think they will exert that control over e-books.

  21. David McCormack

    When you say “Not surprisingly, McGraw-Hill was not on the list of large publishers today” are you suggesting that they got bumped from iBooks at the last minute as some sort of punishment for spilling the beans? With Apple poised to get a cut from every book sold, I find that very hard to believe.

    • James. Braselton

      Hi. There. David. The. Demo. Is. Only. Hours. Long. You. Can’t. List. Every. Book. Wesite. Ect. Ect. Ect. It. Would. Take. More. Time. In. The. Unaverse. You. Have. Too. Give. Short. Preasation. Too. Other. Stuff. If. You. Read for. 500. Years. No. Consumer. Be paying. Atenchen. Shure. They. Also. Forgot. Magazines. Or. Books. And. Magazines. With. Video. Possibels. No. Body. Can cover. Every. Thing. In. The unaverse. Not. Even. The. Borg. Colective