Welcome to iBooks: Beware! (updated)

Just a quick aside expressing my appreciation for my Apple products and especially the new iBooks application included with the latest release of the operating system—Mavericks which is free!.

iBooksI have been using iBooks on my iPad for some time now and enjoy the conveniences of electronic reading so much that I have been sending my paper and ink books to the Book Exchange and going almost exclusively with the digital editions. One complaint I have always had was that iBooks only runs on the iPad, forcing me to keep an old copy of the B&N Reader around to read books on the computer itself. Now with Mavericks, Apple has provided a version of iBooks for the computer that is both a copy of the original iBooks for the iPad and at the same time improved greatly.

First, you can have more than one book open in the new iBooks. This is gray for me since I tend to have a long boring novel going but I like to take a break once in a while and read a quick mystery novel. On the iPad this can result in a lot of tedious scrolling since only one book at a time is allowed and also since there is no “find” mechanism (Apple, add this to the next release). For students or writers this would allow one book for reading while another is open for reference, or just two similar texts open for comparison.

Another advantage of the new iBooks is that is removes iTunes from the middle: books are loaded or purchased and subsequently stored within iBooks itself. Add to this the linking to iCloud and I can move from my desktop to my laptop and on to my iPad without losing my reading bookmark: if it’s on the cloud then it’s on all my registered devices.

Of course there are the common features such as notes, bookmarks, etc. available in iBooks but with the cloud they are synchronized across all of my devices. Keeping track of my reading place in multiple copies of the same book doesn’t work too good on those “real” books.

There are still some problems and missing features, but as an add-on to a free update to the operating system, iBooks in Mavericks brings a whole new dimension to my reading life. I’m not sure if Apple has developed any of the great features of digital books but I enjoy their products and appreciate their adaptations even if they aren’t innovations.

magnifyBy the way: I suppose I would much prefer holding a real book in my hands, flipping the pages, smelling the printer’s ink and old leather, but unfortunately, without the ability to increase the font size and orient the text so that I can process it successfully, all I would be doing is holding, flipping, and sniffing those real books since with my vision problems I certainly wouldn’t be reading them any more.

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File this under “Too Good To Be True.” When I was installing the new iBooks in Mavericks, I was surprised when it reached out and took over all the ebooks that were originally stored in iTunes. Great, I thought, now iBooks will manage the library and I won’t have to shoehorn book data into data definitions that were clearly intended only for music. Editing data on iTunes was dumb but at least it was possible; once the item was on iBooks on the iPad, the data was fixed and couldn’t be updated or corrected. Now the iBooks application on the Mac has taken over the data collection for ebooks but unfortunately it took over none of the editing capability once provided by iTunes. As far as managing the library, iBooks is just as useless on the Mac as it is on the iPad.

But a far more daunting problem came up when I tried to move a new ebook onto the iPad. I checked everywhere and my devices were set up correctly to synchronize their collections so I expected a book added to the Mac would show up on the iPad (synch had been functioning well, even with books not purchased from Apple). I could get a new book downloaded from Apple to synch but a new book downloaded from PG would only load in the Mac version of iBooks and there appeared to be no mechanism to get it to the iPad (synch over the cloud did not work and the ability of iTunes to manage books was no longer extant).

Note that it all seemed to synchronize if the books were loaded on the iPad before Mavericks came along, but any new non-Apple books could only be read on the computer.

I have studied all the posts at Apple concerning the new iBooks and it can only be considered a disaster. Some comments suggested going back to Snow Leopard. Will Apple leap up and promise to fix this debacle (which may be worse than the previous Maps screw-up) .. will Calibre make one of it’s many updates and entirely take over the management function for iBooks (leaving iBooks as just-another eReader and ordering platform for books) .. will competitors like Nook find new life in the Apple world .. or will iBooks just go the way of iWeb and leave us sitting on our hands?

With a little effort, Apple could make it great. Otherwise, what a disappointment!

One response

  1. Steve Jobs is sadly missed. Recent updates to my Mac, iPhone and iPad have reminded me of Windows updates.

    Like

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