Apple Books Overview Updated November 24, 2019

Apple Books

An all-new chapter

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149 'Apple Books' stories

December 2010 - November 2019


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 Books Stories November 24

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. expand full story

Apple Books Stories November 10

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. expand full story

Ecobee HomeKit Thermostat

Apple Books Stories September 23

Apple today announced that Oprah’s Book Club is today launching inside Apple Books, and an Apple TV+ show of the same name will be available starting November 1st.

The exclusive TV series will feature interviews with authors of the featured books, with new episodes released every two months.

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Apple Books Stories August 12

‘Catcher in the Rye’ ebook will finally be available on Apple Books this week

A Catcher in the Rye ebook, along with electronic versions of three other JD Salinger books, will be available for the very first time after the author’s son changed his stance on electronic publishing.

Two reasons were said to have influenced the man responsible for guarding his father’s legacy…

Apple Books Stories July 14

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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Apple Books Stories February 12

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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