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Apple Books

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Apple Books was originally introduced as iBooks in 2010 alongside the original iPad. It came to the iPhone and iPod touch with the release of iOS 4. It came to macOS with the release of OS X Mavericks in fall 2013. iBooks was rebranded as Apple Books with the release of iOS 12 and macOS Mojave.

Apple Books is an all-in-one ebook reader, bookstore, and audiobook player. It primarily uses ePub (with DRM) as the format, but users can also add their own PDF files and sync them over iCloud.

The primary competition for the Apple Books is the Kindle app and the Kindle store. The Kindle ecosystem also has the advantage if having a dedicated e-book reading devices as well.

The bookstore was the subject of an antitrust trial in 2013. The long-standing pricing model for both paper and electronic books was the so-called wholesale model. Publishers sold in bulk to the retailers, and the retailers decided how much to charge. Because retailers were competing with each other, that kept prices down, with Amazon leading the away on ebook pricing with $9.99 bestseller deals.

What Apple – and specifically Steve Jobs – pushed for was a switch to what’s known as an agency pricing model, where publishers decided the price of their books, and retailers took a percentage cut. This maximized profits for publishers and retailers alike, but reduced price competition as the same book would cost the same wherever you bought it. Key to the success of the initiative was to persuade major publishers to tell Amazon that it would likewise need to switch to the agency model if if wished to continue buying from them, and for those publishers not to sell to anyone else at a lower price. It’s alleged that Jobs wrote to five major publishers – HarperCollins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan – and invited them to switch to the new model.

The U.S. Justice department closed the case against Apple Books in 2015. The ironic thing is that Amazon’s marketshare for ebooks is around 83% in the US, so they are the dominant company by far.

Apple reveals most popular books, podcasts of the year including first-ever show of the year

Apple best podcasts, books, audiobooks 2020

2020 is (thankfully) coming to a close and Apple has shared some handy collections for what it considers the best content from this year. The lists include the most popular podcasts, books, audiobooks, and more like “Biggest Shows of 2020.” And in a first, Apple Podcasts has named a “Show of the Year” with the honor going to NPR’s Code Sw!tch.

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Comment: My favorite books of the decade on Apple Books

Apple Books

On Sunday, I published a list of my favorite podcasts of the decade. Podcasts are a huge part of my entertainment “diet,” but another one that has become just as big is reading. In 2019, I read 69 books. In a noisy world, reading has become my go-to activity to quiet my brain. For my last post of the decade, I wanted to give you my favorite books of the year. Whether you read on Apple Books, Kindle, Audible, or even paperback, I think you’ll enjoy these books.

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Comment: It’s time for Amazon, Apple, and others to create a Books Anywhere service

Amazon Kindle

A few weeks ago, I mentioned how, between all of the excellent podcasts, music, movies, TV shows, and books that the thing most creators are fighting for more than ever before is people’s attention. No longer are we limited by the songs in our library. Apple Music or Spotify gives us access to almost every song available. 99.99% of podcasts are free, so there is always something new to binge. Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, Hulu, Apple TV+, and countless others provide us with more TV shows and movies than we could ever hope to watch. The industry, in my opinion, with the most opportunity going forward, is the digital book market.

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Comment: Amazon Kindle’s US Public Library integration is exactly what Apple Books needs

Public Library Kindle

Out of all the electronic devices I own, the one I’d want to give up last is my Kindle Oasis. In my opinion, it brings the best of technology while ignoring the worst. I even wrote a few months back about the idea around Apple creating an e-ink reader to take on the Kindle. Despite Apple’s attempts with the Apple Books redesign, the Kindle and Audible ecosystem is still the best place to be for book fans. I was recently made aware of a feature of the Kindle that Apple hasn’t matched but should be on their radar for a future Apple Books upgrade: US public library system integration.

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Should Apple make a Books e-ink reader to take on Amazon’s Kindle?

I’ve been a big fan of the Amazon ecosystem for ebooks and audiobooks for a number of years. I’ve had an Audible subscription off and on since 2008, and I’ve been using some version of a Kindle Paperwhite for the past few years. I actually just pre-ordered the new Kindle Oasis. I’ll be doing a review of it on 9to5Toys in early August. Despite Apple’s attempts with the Apple Books redesign, the Kindle and Audible ecosystem is still the best place to be for book lovers. I’d love to see Apple compete against Amazon with an Apple Book reader.



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Opinion: Apple’s audiobooks experience could benefit from a subscription overhaul

Apple Audiobooks

Between iCloud storage and Apple Music to the App Store and iTunes, there’s certainly no shortage of ways to give Apple your money for digital goods. New subscription services are rumored to debut this year, too, including Apple’s first original video content service and a separate service that integrates digital magazines in Apple’s News app based on Apple’s Texture acquisition. There’s even a rumored App Store game subscription service. The lesson here may be that if there’s a digital good you can pay Apple for once, there’s likely an opportunity for a subscription service for that category with recurring payments.

Digital books would qualify, and Apple would hardly be the first to rent ebooks for a monthly fee. My colleague Ben Lovejoy wrote last year that Apple’s Texture acquisition highlighted the opening for an Apple ebook subscription service modeled after Kindle Unlimited. We’ve since seen iBooks become Apple Books with a redesigned app user interface, but no ‘Netflix for books’ yet. Personally, I would love to pay Apple to stream audiobooks — and the service could have features that audiobooks in Apple Books doesn’t offer today.



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James Comey’s new book, available for pre-order on iPhone & iPad, says Apple fails to see the darkness

A Higher Loyalty, the memoir/exposé written by former FBI director James Comey, is now available for pre-order on iPhone and iPad, ahead of its official publication date tomorrow.

In the book –subtitled Truth, lies and leadership – Comey likens President Trump to a ‘mob boss’ who is ‘untethered to the truth’ and morally unfit to be president. But he also doesn’t hold back about Apple’s decision not to help the FBI in the San Bernardino shooting, describing it as ‘appalling’ …



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Feature Request: After buying a ‘Netflix for magazines,’ it’s time for Apple to do the same for ebooks

As Apple seeks to boost its recurring income from services, it recently purchased Texture – one of a number of services described as ‘Netflix for magazines.’ Ten dollars a month gives subscribers access to more than 200 different magazines.

That’s nice, but what I really like to see from Apple is ‘Netflix for books’ – perhaps more accurately described as ‘Kindle Unlimited for iBooks.’

If Apple were able to bring to that the kind of discovery smarts it has achieved with Apple Music, it would be a killer product …



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Apple reportedly revamping iBooks app with iOS 11 App Store inspired design

According to a new report from Bloomberg, Apple will revamp the iBooks app later this year with a major redesign, with a new ‘Reading Now’ tab, a separate section for audiobooks and a store interface that draws from the same design language as the iOS 11 App Store.

The report follows the launch of iOS 11.3 beta, which includes a renaming of the iBooks app to simply ‘Books’. In the current beta, there are no meaningful UI changes to the Books app.



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eBook sales down 18.7% in the US, 17% in the UK, as paper book sales climb [Poll]

US eBook sales fell by 18.7% in the first nine months of 2016, while UK sales dropped 17% across the year, reports CNN. There appears to have been a resurgence in reading physical books, where sales grew during the same period.

In the UK, sales of physical books and journals went up by 7% over the same period, while children’s books surged 16%. The same trend is on display in the U.S., where […] paperback sales were up 7.5% over the same period, and hardback sales increased 4.1%.

The popularity of print format books is not necessarily very literary in nature, however …



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Feature Request: Apple should bring these features from iBooks to every Now Playing screen on iOS

This week I bought and played through my first audiobook in iBooks (Shoe Dog) after realizing I have a habit of buying a lot of books then rarely making time to actually read them. I finished the 13 hour 22 minute book over the weekend and really enjoyed the experience (and the book). I listen to a lot of podcasts, so playing audio in the background while running errands is something I know I enjoy.

iBooks on the iPhone is a solid audiobook player. It works with Apple CarPlay, 3D Touch from the Home screen, and to my surprise has arguably the best Now Playing screen of any Apple app. Apple currently has three different versions of its audio Now Playing screen between its Music, Podcasts, and iBooks apps, the audiobooks version has features that every Now Playing screen should adopt.



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EU antitrust regulators stand down as Apple ends exclusive audiobook deal with Audible

audible

When the long-running antitrust case against Apple over ebook price-fixing was finally settled last year, one chapter ended and a new one began – this time in Europe. German regulators objected to Apple agreeing an exclusive deal with Amazon-owned Audible for the supply of audiobooks, stating that this reduced competition and thus harmed consumers …



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