Tag Archives: iBooks

Native reading experiences on the iPad

Shawn Blanc notes how the best reading experiences on the iPad feel native, digital and don’t try to mimic a physical reading medium:

My iPad’s primary function has always been as my reading device. I read and skim headlines in Reeder, I use Instapaper to catch up on articles I came across during the day, I read ebooks in iBooks, and I read Wiredand The New Yorker in their respective apps.

Ironically, the worst reading experiences are with the apps designed by the “professionals” that are based on the age-old history of reading in print: Apple’s own iBooks, and the Condé Nast apps. The best reading experiences on the iPad are Instapaper and Reeder. In part because they are easy to keep up-to-date, but also because their designs have the least amount of frilly bits, and therefore make reading of the actual text the easiest.

I’ve noticed this too. Instapaper makes for a great reading experience of blog posts, news articles, and especially long-form journalism (and is a must have for all iPad owners). Reeder is also a gem, and my favorite RSS reeder. I also enjoy reading a lot in the Kindle app, and the iBooks app has changed a bit since Blanc origianlly wrote his piece (it now goes full screen and allows you to get lost in the words).

Apps from professional publishers — those who used to define what the reading experience was all about — are often the worst. The iPad isn’t a physical book, newspaper or magazine, and the harder you try to make an app mimic a physical product, the worse that app will be.

I have yet to use a news app that is better than a good news website. These apps silo their stories into individual issues, make them hard to share and comment on, exist within a vacuum without prior or future issues and require you to download discrete issues.

You can’t search for related stories while using an iPad news app. To me, that’s a broken news experience in 2012.

That doesn’t mean news publishers should give up. They just need to let themselves be free. Make a news product that feels right today; forget about the past.

The iPad is THE reading device. I simply can’t put it down. There is so much to read and discover with it.

Embrace that.

Episode 25: Much a EULA about nothing?

We follow-up last weeks’s show about iBooks and iBooks Author with some discussion of the infamous iBooks Author EULA.

We then get into whether or not the Washington Post is innovating too much. A common question of newspapers.

We also discuss the mythical iTV and the whole movie rights mess that may be holding it back. I preordered Game of Thrones to stream to my Apple TV, which demonstrates what we could have one day. I now own every episode of the first season in HD and can stream it whenever I feel like it or put it on my mobile devices.

We also talk some other random topics that come up, like how I was pleasantly surprised to see a book I preordered for the Kindle show up just after midnight on the launch day.

Listen to this week’s show:


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Show notes:

Episode 24: Enter iBooks Author

Apple announced yesterday a new textbook intitative and textbook creator called iBooks Author that Apple is hoping will bring much richer experiences to digital textbooks.

Having used ebooks for classes in the past, I can tell you that the state of digital textbooks is appalling. Most are simply digital version of print textbooks. No interactivity or multimedia or anything that makes computers so powerful.

We discuss Apple’s education event and give our early thoughts on these new endeavors. We have played around with iBooks textbooks and the new iBooks Author.

A few things we have learned about iBooks textbooks and iBooks Author:

  • iBooks Author only outputs files that can be used in iBooks and you can only sell your iBooks Author books in the iBook store.
  • iBooks Author is free, which might explain Apple’s restrictions, but we haven’t ever heard of applications that restrict would you can with their output.
  • These files cannot be viewed on devices besides the iPad, including Macs.
  • The new iBooks app supports ePub 3, which brings richer graphics, multimedia and programing to ebooks.
  • iBooks Author appears to be the easiest and best digital textbook creation tool available.
Lisen to this week’s show:

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Episode 10: Angry Avians (using the iPad for work)

We discuss how we use our iPads for work and how tablets can make us more productive.

Safari on the iPad would almost be worth the price of admission alone. It’s a really great app. So are Mail and iCal. We don’t discuss this built in apps, however, and instead focus on some of the really strong third-party apps that help us be more productive.

Here are some of the applications we talk about:

  • Omnioutliner — A great outlining program, especially helpful in meetings.
  • Omnifocus — A GTD, task management program. Built for David Allen’s system. Very handy for staying on top of multiple projects at once.
  • Reeder — The best RSS program around, complete with great social media and Instapaper integration.
  • Instapaper — If you love to read and reading is an important part of your job, you need Instapaper ASAP.
  • Twitterific — Our favorite Twitter app.
  • Kindle/iBooks — Great for reading books, papers and reports.
  • TripIt — Your travel companion.
  • Pages — Word processing on the go. Not bad for taking notes in meetings either.
  • Numbers — Spreadsheets on the go, also helpful for being able to view spreadsheets in meetings.
  • Keynote — Presentations on the go.
  • WordPress — Post to WordPress blogs, such as this site. Works better than logging in through the Web.

Listen to this week’s show:

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Books may never be the same again after J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore

Pottermore is a pretty big deal for the publishing world. First, the seven Harry Potter books will finally be coming out as e-books, but sold only through Pottermore.com. J.K. Rowling is bypassing her publisher, Amazon.com, the iBooks store and other popular e-book stores to control and deliver e-books as she wants them (and to avoid paying middlemen).

But that’s only part of it. Next, Pottermore will deliver new details about the Harry Potter world. A book and world as big as the one in Harry Potter could definitely use an encyclopedia. Pottermore will function as an interactive and social encyclopedia for readers.

Pottermore has also been hinted at as an online community/world where readers can read the books together, experience the Harry Potter world, play games, etc. We’ll know more in a month when more details and screenshots are released.

The potential for this is amazing. In my wildest dreams, I imagine an iPad app that is a beautiful 3D game (think The Sims or World of Warcraft), where users walk around the Harry Potter world, interact with other people around the world, form groups, read the books together, play games and more. The iPad and tablets would be perfect for this because they can do beautiful 3D games and provide a strong reading experience for books.

If books are to become electronic, why stop at e-books that try to merely mimic print?