Apple shortens iBooks review times, allows more promo codes for authors

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Apple today emailed out registered authors for iBooks to announce some interesting changes and enhancements to the program. Some notable enhancements, via Apple’s email:

  • To help you get your book to readers quickly, we review 95 percent of all book submissions within one business day. Note that you do not need an ISBN to deliver a book to iBooks.
  • You can now request up to 250 promo codes per book. Promo codes allow you to provide free copies of your book to reviewers, bloggers, or others to build momentum for your book.
  • Screenshots can now be delivered or updated after a book is available for sale on iBooks.

The email to authors also tells developers about recent updates to both the iTunes Connect app on iOS and the iBooks Author application on the Mac. Like it usually does for App Store app developers, Apple tells authors how to prepare for the upcoming break for book reviewers. “To account for an anticipated increase in book deliveries during the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday week, books scheduled to go live between November 24, 2014 and December 1, 2014, should be delivered by Friday, November 14, 2014,” the notice reads.

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‘iPad Air 2′ and ‘iPad mini 3′ with Touch ID & Burst Mode confirmed, show up early in iTunes

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Apple’s iTunes Store has just made a little bit of a slip-up (and with perfect uncanny timing): screenshots for the iOS 8.1 iPad user guide have just appeared within iBooks and include Apple’s upcoming iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. Of course, Apple will be formally debuting these devices tomorrow.

The screenshots confirm that both new tablets will include nearly identical designs to their predecessors and the addition of Touch ID sensors in the Home button. Another new feature confirmed by this leak is a new Burst Mode (first introduced with the iPhone 5s) for the iPad Air 2 (image below).

These images also indicate that the new tablets will be named “iPad Air 2″ and “iPad mini 3,” which means that Apple will bringing the numbering scheme for names back to the iPad lineup. Of course, the presence of this user guide means iOS 8.1 (with Apple Pay) is likely to drop tomorrow, too.

Besides the tweaked designs and Touch ID sensors, a gold color option, and a stronger A8X processor, improved camera optics, and new software can be expected at least on the new Air. Apple will also discuss the Mac line tomorrow, including the new iMac with Retina display and OS X Yosemite.

Boom?

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Apple revamps design of iBooks and iTunes U for iOS 7 on iPad & iPhone

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Following redesigns of many of its other applications, Apple has completely redesigned its iBooks application for iOS 7. The new iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch app follows the design aesthetic of the bundled Newsstand application, and also includes a completely redesigned iBookstore. The free update is available via the App Store now. For fans of the page curl effect in iBooks, you will be happy to know that it has not been removed.

Apple has also completely redesigned its iTunes U application, an app for downloading and managing education content. Both apps include redesigned icons:

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Apple makes iOS 7 user guides available on the iBookstore

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Ahead of iOS 7’s release later today, Apple has published iOS 7 user guides on the iBookstore. At the moment, guides are only available for the iPad and iPod touch but a book targeted at the iPhone will likely follow. As is to be expected, both books are offered as a free download.

In essence, they are ebook versions of Apple’s downloadable PDF manuals, featuring setup, troubleshooting and other instructions for the device and the OS. Apple has offered user guides on the iBookstore ever since its inception in 2010, starting with the original iPad.

Apple and Amazon notify customers of $69M State settlement with publishers, how to get credit

Earlier this week, Amazon began letting customers know if they were eligible for a share of the $69 million state attorney settlements with Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon and Schuster. Today, Apple started notifying iBooks customers, who bought an iBook from April 1, 2010 to May 21, 2012, of the same payout.

The payout will be dispersed as Kindle/iBooks credit or customers can call a number to request a check for delivery in February.

Notably, if you purchased the Steve Jobs eBook bio from Simon and Schuster on iBooks or Amazon, you should receive this notice.

To be clear, this is separate from the Federal price-fixing case surrounding Apple and some publishers. Barnes and Noble and other eBook distributors are likely doing the same thing. The Amazon version is below:

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Walmart offers $100 iTunes/App Store downloadable gift card for $80

From 9to5Toys.com:

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For a limited time, Walmart.com is offering a $100 downloadable Apple iTunes/App Store gift card for just $80. These popular gift cards can be used on iBooks, iTunes Movies, Videos, music, Mac and iOS Apps.  We’ve heard these do work internationally if paid for with a US source and used in the US iTunes/App Stores.

You are basically getting 20% off every Apple media purchase you make.  Also makes a great gift…we imagine.

Update:

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Cue on agency model: ‘I don’t think you understand. We can’t treat newspapers or magazines any differently than we treat FarmVille.”

By now you probably know that the U.S. Department of Justice launched an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and two publishers this month following an investigation into Apple’s eBook pricing agency model. Three publishers, including Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster, decided to reach a settlement with the Department of Justice to return to Amazon’s set-your-own price wholesale model. Meanwhile, Apple, Macmillan, and Penguin will take the fight to court.

Interestingly, a report from The Wall Street Journal, which is owned by the HarperCollins’ parent company News Corp, suggested Apple was only ever trying to continue its App Store business model. The Wall Street Journal’s L. Gordon Crovitz described visiting Senior Apple Executive Eddy Cue to discuss changing Apple’s policies for publications. He quoted Cue as comparing book pricing to apps and not wanting to treat publications differently than app developers:
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Apple finally comments on DOJ antitrust charges: ‘We’re breaking monopolies not starting them’

Apple finally commented late this evening on the U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust suit against the company. What did Apple think up with those extra 48 hours? Peter Kafka got the scoop from Apple’s Tom Neumayr:

The DOJ’s accusation of collusion against Apple is simply not true. The launch of the iBookstore in 2010 fostered innovation and competition, breaking Amazon’s monopolistic grip on the publishing industry. Since then customers have benefited from eBooks that are more interactive and engaging. Just as we’ve allowed developers to set prices on the App Store, publishers set prices on the iBookstore.

The civil antitrust suit alleged that Apple’s move to let publishers set their own prices—and it is a requirement that publishers do not sell their digital books for cheaper elsewhere—forced consumers to pay millions more for books than they should have.

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Report: DOJ to sue Apple this week over fixed eBook pricing allegation

The U.S. Department of Justice will sue Apple as early as tomorrow morning over allegations of fixing eBook prices with five major publishers, according to Reuters. The five publishers, which are also in question, will be looked at later in the week.

The Justice Department is investigating alleged price-fixing by Apple and five major publishers: CBS Corp’s Simon & Schuster Inc, HarperCollins Publishers Inc, Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Book Group, Pearson and Macmillan, a unit of Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH.

A lawsuit against Apple, one of the parties not in negotiations with the Justice Department for a potential settlement, could come as early as Wednesday but no final decision has been made, the people said.

The news of a lawsuit comes just weeks after the Department of Justice launched a probe into Apple and the five publishers. We will keep you updated with any more news about this case. Read more

Apple looking to launch iTunes Store, App Store overhauls later this year

In a move that will surely keep the Mac and iPhone maker on top of the digital music and software application industry, Apple is preparing its first iTunes Store redesign in nearly three years. In late 2009, Apple launched a new iTunes Store that traded in a blue-themed, convoluted store for a much simpler, white-themed store that provides a great focus on the store’s downloadable content.

The redesign of the iTunes Store that runs on both the iTunes application for the Mac and the PC is a top priority for Apple. The work on the redesign comes soon after the launch of new services in the United States such as the Spotify music streaming service and the growing popularity of Amazon’s online music store. Apple dominates the majority of the digital music market, and it will continue to bet on an in-application download store and not an online store found only in a web browser.

The new design is said to be even simpler and more user-friendly than the current design. Apple is working on ways to enhance the speed and efficiency of finding new content, such as songs, videos, and applications. The cornerstone element of Apple’s new iTunes Store is interactivity. As Apple vaguely explained to a number of music labels and entertainment partners, Apple is looking to make the iTunes Store a much more engaging experience. Read on for more…

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State of the Union guestlist likely indicates that Steve Jobs will be discussed

Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple cofounder and former CEO Steve Jobs, is among the attendees of the State of the Union address scheduled for 9 p.m. tonight (live stream here). According to the official guest list, the White House invited Powell Jobs, along with other distinguished individuals, to attend the State of the Union address, including billionaire Warren Buffett’s secretary Debbie Bosanek, cancer survivor Adam Rapp, and Mark Kelly, former astronaut and husband of outgoing Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The news becomes interesting knowing the White House usually invites people that have something to do with a proposal or initiative the President will outline in the address. Powell Jobs may have been invited for her focus on education, the arts and women’s human rights.

Vanguard has it that Obama will welcome Powell Jobs to his State of the Union address out of respect for her late husband. According to the White House, Powell Jobs will watch Obama’s speech from First Lady Michelle Obama’s box in the House of Representatives. In December of last year, Obama gave Jobs’ widow a seat on the White House Council for Community Solutions. Chaired by former Gates Foundation CEO Patty Stonesifer, the body advises the President on job creation and social issues. eBay CEO John Donahoe and singer Jon Bon Jovi are also among the members.

Powell Jobs’ ties in education could also prove key, as education is allegedly one of key focus areas of tonight’s State of the Union address. Let’s not forget that Apple held an education-focused media event last week, debuting digital textbooks on the iPad priced at $14.99 or less and a free tool that lets anyone create and publish digital textbooks to iBookstore. In just three days, more than 350,000 copies of digital textbooks were downloaded from the store. Oh, and Obama is an avid fan of Apple’s tablet.

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