Despite the hype about how Apple’s iPad is going to kill the traditional paper based book and other e-book readers like Amazon’s Kindle, it is interesting to note that the much publicized iBooks application for the iPad is NOT actually installed on the iPad by default. Like the iTunes Remote App, it is a free, yet optional, download from the iTunes App Store.
Users must make a conscious decision to hunt the iBook app down from amongst the myriad of 150,000+ other apps available from the Store and install it on their iPads – How many people will actually do this? I believe that had Apple included the iBook app as standard, everyone would try at least one book and then perhaps go on to purchase more?
So I must ask “Why haven’t have Apple installed iBooks as a default application?”
Well, I think the answer lies with book publishers and the fact that only US based purchasers will have access to the iBookstore at launch. The rest of the world will have to wait until Apple can sign agreements with all the publishers in the dozen upon dozens of different licensing regions around the world- which could take forever in some places – just look at the iTunes store for Music, TV Shows and Movies – How many countries still can’t access the iTunes Store?
If had been up to me, I would have included the iBooks App on all iPads and provided access to copyright free books such as the thousands of titles over at Project Gutenburg whose copyright has expired and are now available in the Public Domain and available to download free of charge in a number of different formats.
After all, Stanza, the free ebook iPhone App, already provides links to Project Gutenberg and various other Public Domain ebook resources from within itself and provides simple options to download the books… surely Apple could have done the same!
In Project Gutenberg’s vast library you’ll find classics like The Wizard of Oz series (yes there were more stories set in the Land of Oz apart from that which was told in the famous movie – and yes that was a book well before MGM made it in to a movie!); The political Animal Farm; even some childhood favourites like the Swiss Family Robinson and Robin Crusoe and of course there are timeless classics Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Gone with the Wind are all in the public domain and already available in the ePub format supported by the iPad’s iBooks ebook reader.
The Australian version of Project Gutenburg even has some of the works of Australia’s own A.B. ‘Banjo’ Paterson like The Man from Snowy River available.
There are thousands of titles available, free of charge, to book readers outside of the US right NOW! So why haven’t Apple given us access to them immediately as the iPad and iBookstore launch?
By giving the consumer a chance to see how easy it is to download an ebook, free of charge, and then finding out just how pleasant it is to actually read on an iPad, Apple would have created further demand for other popular titles to become available and thus helped persuade regional book publishers to sign agreements sooner rather than later.
After all, as much I do enjoy reading 50 or 100+ year old classics, I would eagerly read more modern titles like Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, or her Mayfair Legacy series. Or any of Clive Cuslter’s adventure stories, to name a few. How long will I have to wait to see these and other books become available on the iPad in Australia?
Then there has been much hype in the media about how Apple will eventually dominate the newspaper, magazine, and periodical markets through its’ iBookstore.
As the publisher of The AppleUsers Spotlight, a 30+ digital format magazine that is published every second month, I am watching this very closely. After all, The Spotlight is written by Apple Users, for Apple Users! So, the iPad is an obvious target audience for us to aim for.
But it seems that all the major publication houses that are even talking about porting their print magazines and papers to the iPad all seem to be creating their own custom iPad applications. Where are the specifications on how small, independent publishers like AppleUsers.org can convert our publications into a format the iBook app on the iPad can support and display?
If this information was readily available now and the iBook application was installed by default, then many of the smaller publishers could be ready from Day 1 of the iPad release and had unique, and even free, publications available for download both in and outside of the United States, without waiting for the larger publishers to play catch up.
What do you think:
- Should Apple have included iBooks as a standard App on the iPad?
- Are you even interested in any of the books currently available in the Public Domain through catalogues like Project Gutenberg?
- Will you consider reading magazines and newspapers on an iPad?