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Indie iBooks Publishing 

Update: Please see the additional good new in this post.

One of the main functions of the the iPad is that of an eBook reader. To quote Apple, “The iBooks app is a great new way to read and buy books. Download the free app from the App Store and buy everything from classics to best sellers from the built-in iBookstore.”

This implies that iBooks documents will only be available via the iBookstore which is a shame because I’d like to see a way for individuals and organisations to publish and distribute their own iBooks documents. For example, as a software developer I could create an iBooks version of my application’s user guide and my customers can load it onto their iPad and have the guide right where they expect it. Similarly schools could generate their own iBooks content and distribute them to their students.

How cool would it be to be able to drag an iBooks document into iTunes and then be able to sync it onto your iPad. Even better, allow iBooks documents to be emailed to you on the device and have iBooks import them.

Apple even have the perfect means to allow people to generate iBooks applications: Pages. I’d love to see both the Mac and iPad versions of Pages include an ‘Export to iBooks’ option.

The reason this may never happen: piracy. It would be really easy for people to convert existing eBooks into iBooks documents and distribute them and this is something the publishers would hate to see happen (understandably really).

Reader Comments (3)

I think adding user-created PDFs or epubs to the iPad is a critical, showstopper feature.

Whether that is through iBooks or some other system remains to be seen, but IMHO if Apple don't allow custom content in an iBook library they run the risk of fragmenting their entire ebook offering and giving other vendors an opportunity to steal customers.

Far better for the Apple iBook app to be THE platform for ebook content no matter what the source. If I have all of my content in one reader I am more likely to buy DRM'd content from that one source, and that source alone.

At the moment I have all of my ebooks (quite a lot of them) in Adobe Digital Editions on my MBP. I also have a lot of custom PDFs in there, including the Apple developer PDF guides. I would not buy a DRM'd book in a format that ADE couldn't support.

Having all of my ebooks on one device is a key feature for me. If that turns out not to be possible it might be the thing that stops me buying an iPad. Well, this version anyway.


January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDarren Wheatley

I think that the problem with PDFs and other eBook formats is that they may not comply with the application's methods for things like resizing or changing fonts Although it would be nice if multiple document formats were supported by iBooks I just can't see this happening right now. However giving people the opportunity to create iBooks documents at least opens up the capabilities for people to either convert existing documents or produce and distribute alternate versions of existing documents.

I'd actually prefer a separate PDF management application so that features such as annotation which may not be in iBooks can be supported. I doubt that iBooks will allow you to copy text and images and paste them into other applications which hopefully a dedicated PDF viewer would.

January 29, 2010 | Registered CommenterSimon

I think both Simon and Darren's points are valid. I would idealistically like to see iBooks able to import all formats. Unless there is a DRM on the format, a converter to the iBook protocols wouldn't be insurmountable to program into a Mac side Pages, which would then export directly to iTunes. This would allow any user developed "books" to be read in the iBooks platform. I happen to agree with Darren that this might propel the platform into being THE reader to have and use. Having annotation and copy and paste functions wouldn't be all that far fetched either.

It just depends on the "vision" the emperor has and how tightly he wants to control things. Don't get me wrong...I'm writing this on a Mac and have had Macs for over 20 years, have an iPod Touch (will own an iPhone if it ever makes it to Verizon), and will own a 2nd gen iPad. I just think Steve Jobs is walking a fine line between genius and driving his company into the ground. There are "similar" examples...Beta vs. VHS is always on peoples minds in situations like this. My favorite hits closer to home though. When Apple first introduced the GUI, his business model was so restrictive that it allowed competitors (MS) to come in and steal the show. I'm hoping this doesn't happen again.

Apple is THE innovator in Silicone Valley. Almost everything flows downhill from their development teams. Personal computing, music, and communication (smart phones) as it is today is a testament to the vision of Apple...primarily Steve Jobs. I just hope his desire to control all aspects of his vision don't allow a competitor to steal his thunder again.

March 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrett

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