Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

The State of iBooks and Companion Software

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.

You’ve probably seen this piece shared all over, and rightfully so: Apple has barely mentioned iBooks in the past year, and — outside of home screen shots — iBooks isn’t featured on any of Apple’s iPad product webpages.

On iBooks Author, Steinberg writes:

iBooks Author could have been a trojan horse into the personal publishing business. It would have been classic Apple. Instead of small authors going to Amazon’s platform, they would have started with iBooks Author. Apple should have made it easy for them to push to Amazon as well. Why? Because these people wanted to publish on Amazon but they weren’t considering publishing with Apple. Thousands of authors would have come to Apple to create content and stayed with Apple after publishing content there.

OK, so iBooks Author is essentially abandonware, what about iBooks and the iBookstore.

Bradley Metrock takes issue with Steinberg’s use of “abandonware”:

Let’s get something out of the way right off the bat: iBooks Author isn’t abandonware, as this post claims. Calling iBooks Author ‘abandonware’ is not just factually false, but it is also a disrespectful slap in the face to the growing, diverse communities of content creators out there using it. I wish that description weren’t in this otherwise strong and insightful post.

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. Pages, for example, saw its last major update to 6.0 in September, and the version prior — 5.6 — was released in October 2015. In between these updates were two minor bug fixing releases.

A 2016 poll by Pew Research indicated that Americans aged 18–29 were the most likely of any adult age group to have read a book in any format in the prior twelve months, and the most likely to have read an e-book in the same timeframe. That figure is likely juiced by required post-secondary reading, but there’s clearly a big market of avid readers out there. Maybe Apple isn’t the right company to go after them, but I think there’s a tremendous opportunity that Apple is sleeping on.