Apple Books Overview Updated July 14, 2019

Apple Books

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145 'Apple Books' stories

December 2010 - July 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 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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Sylvania HomeKit Light Strip

Apple Books Stories February 1

How to use dark mode with Apple Books on iPhone and iPad

While Apple brought a system-wide Dark Mode with macOS Mojave, we’re waiting for iOS 13 to bring that to iPhone and iPad. However, there are some apps that offer a dark mode now, follow along for how to use dark mode with Apple Books on iPhone and iPad.

Apple Books Stories December 17, 2018

Apple Books releases six free audiobooks read by celebrity narrators

Apple Books has published six exclusive audiobooks this week, showcasing six great first listen titles read by celebrity narrators. The books themselves are all public domain works from Pride and Prejudice to Winnie the Pooh, recorded by Apple and released in the Book Store for free.

Apple Books Stories November 12, 2018

In a continued effort to push the Apple News platform, Apple has today published an exclusive story, giving an excerpt from former First Lady Michelle Obama’s upcoming book, Becoming.

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Apple Books Stories October 10, 2018

Apple revamps affiliate program for Apple Books, offering increased rates for authors & more

Apple is updating its affiliate program today for the rebranded Apple Books. And with that, Apple is making some changes for authors and publishers that will make it easier to distribute on the platform.

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