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Impending iBooks Author update could support iPhone formatting

updated 11:53 am EDT, Thu September 5, 2013

Apple changes system requirements for Author-produced titles

A change in the system requirements language for iBooks Author titles could mean that the next version of Author will support formatting for the iPhone and iPod touch. Until recently, Author-produced books came with a narrow disclaimer: "This book can only be viewed using iBooks 3.0 or later on an iPad. iOS 5.1 or later is required." Now, though, that language has loosened somewhat. "To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 3.0 or later and iOS 5.1 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later," Apple writes.

Author already includes an option for reflowable portrait layouts, which should in theory make it easy to enable reading on smaller screens. Apple may simply be waiting for the release of iOS 7, and/or OS X Mavericks, the first version of OS X that will include a native iBooks reader. iOS 7 should arrive later this month; Mavericks will likely ship in either September or October.




by MacNN Staff

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  1. bobolicious

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 08-15-02

    iBooks for mac will need OS 10.9?
    Is migration more important than sales?
    I guess I'll just keep buying kindle books?
    It works on all my devices & OS...

  1. Jeronimo2000

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-20-01

    I agree, it's not a good move by Apple to offer iBooks only on 10.9. In addition, why the heck did it take THAT LONG? iBooks should have been on Macs years ago.

  1. Inkling

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 07-25-06

    My hunch is that limiting where ebooks from the iBookstore can be read was a shrewd business move on Apple's part for two reasons:

    1. It's an incentive to buy an iPad. That also may explain why the Mac version is likely to be Mavericks only. You have to own a fairly new Mac. My aging MacBook won't do.

    2. If an ebook price war developed with Amazon, which seemed likely when the iPad was first released, having their ebooks iOS (and soon OS X)-only would give Apple an enormous advantage. Apple's below-cost prices could be written off as an expense to sell iPads. Because Kindle apps run on almost every device, that wouldn't be true for Amazon. Ebooks subsidized by Amazon could be read on an iPad. Amazon would be losing money to help Apple sell more iPads.

    There's another factor too. Apple is clearly committed to making their ebooks look good. Having just a few platforms to support makes that much easier. In contrast, Amazon is committed to selling lots of ebooks and that means supporting readers on numerous platforms. Amazon doesn't seem to have the interest or resources to make how ebooks that appealing.

    I've seen that over the last couple of weeks as I released a new book in print and digital called My Nights with Leukemia: Caring for Children with Cancer. Each of the over-40 short chapters begins with a photo, typically of a hospitalized child, to make clear the book is about real kids. I love the result.

    The iBookstore version looks great, with large, sharp images. Apple encourages that by allowing each image to be up to 3 meg and not charging for file downloads.

    On the other hand, on most of the platforms I checked, the Kindle version looks dreadful. The pictures are small, little larger than a commemorative stamp. That's not surprising. Amazon's specs limit the size of pictures to 127K. I had to crop and compress the daylights out of some of them to get under that limit. And the result is a less attractive ebook. If you'd like to see the difference, download the free samples of each.

    Oddly enough, I have gained more respect for the quality of paper books from Amazon's CreateSpace affiliate. For that book, each chapter opens with a b&w image and those images look marvelous. The only way they could be made to look better would be to use glossy paper.

    Amazon may claim to be 100% behind ebooks. But its quality-building efforts seem more devoted to print than digital. Of course, since Apple has no print book agenda, it can put all its efforts into how ebooks look on their own products.

    Apple's investment in iBooks Author illustrates that too. Amazon has no comparable app for creating colorful, complex books for Kindles.

  1. bobolicious

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 08-15-02

    "my hunch..."

    Hmmm - well I've found just the opposite - all the OS churn and dropped support for iweb, rosetta, bento, etc has dicouraged buying new macs or ipads - I simply use my kindle mac reader on snow leopard as well as all my iOS devices currently...

  1. Makosuke

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-06-01

    You know what feature I want to see? I want a portrait "single page" mode to go with the landscape "single page" mode for advanced iBooks Author books.

    If the only device target was a 10" iPad, then it made some degree of sense for landscape to be a "two page spread" and portrait to be restricted to only an infinite vertical scroll. But when you drop that down to a 7" iPad, there is a lot more reason to be able to display the equivalent of a single page at a time (for a richly formatted book) in portrait mode, rather than being restricted to cramming everything into a landscape view or nothing.

    And if they're going to allow richly formatted books on iPhones/Pods? Then it would be absolutely ridiculous not to. The landscape view would be functionally invisible on a 4" screen, and I'd wager people are more likely to want to format for a vertical orientation. A "single page" portrait view wouldn't be a big step up, admittedly, but it would be better than nothing. Hopefully they also allow zooming.

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