Friday, March 12, 2010

eBooks on iBooks on iPad, coming really soon

The iPad is available for pre-order, as of 8:30am this morning, EST. Alongside the store, there was a slew of new information about what will come with the iPad, and in particular about eBooks. Before I get to that, allow me a short rant. I have to say that the similarity of the words eBooks and iBooks is driving me a little batty. Just for the record, "iBooks" is the name of Apple's App for reading eBooks. An "eBook" is an electronic book. (And "ePub" is the open-source format of eBooks that Apple's iBooks App will accept!)

At any rate, here's the new information that I found:
  • iBooks is an App that you will be able to download for free from iTunes (it won't come pre-installed on the iPad). It's not available yet. You'll be able to buy eBooks from the iBookstore from within iBooks (by clicking the Store button).
  • You can also "add free ePub titles to iTunes and sync them to the iBooks app on your iPad". This means that anyone can create ePub documents, not just big publishers. More on this soon :)
  • When you close the iBooks App, it remembers where you left off in the book
  • Barnes and Noble will also be "adding a new B&N eReader for iPad" soon.
  • The iPad will have a Screen Rotation lock button (in place of the mute button), enabling users to read books while lying on their sides without iPad insisting on switching the orientation. Yay!
I admit to reading my first eBook this summer, Cory Doctorow's Makers, on my iPhone. Up to that moment, I had been pretty skeptical about reading on an electronic device, let alone my tiny phone. But, actually, I really liked it. I didn't have to hold up a heavy book. I could turn pages with my thumb. The pages didn't flop over. And I could stay all the way under the covers and read lying down (using Stanza and its screen rotation lock setting to keep the book in the same orientation as me). People say that it's hard to read on a computer screen, but I loved not having to deal with an external light source. No book light necessary! It was a very pleasant reading experience. Oh yeah, and I really liked the book!

Still, I wasn't going to spend $487 for just an eBook reader like the Kindle, no matter how complicated and impossible to understand I found its eInk technology.

But the iPad? I'm there.


  1. OK so now please write a book that will teach me, an independent publisher of university level lab manuals for neuroanatomy, how to create epub versions of our publications. I want to be in the Apple iBookstore. As you said iPad? I'm there.

  2. I'm a print author. I want to publish a book that's readable on iPad (with many photos, perhaps some video). I know little about programming, but will devote time to learn. Just "what" I should be learning is the problem. I've gleaned some info (I think): XHTML files can be converted into ePub format (for iPad and at least some other readers). But where to go from there is a fog. I left a messages on various sites inquiring how to go about creating an ebook, and got very general answers. Your blog looks like it deals with good particulars. Will you ever outline the basic steps? Starting with things like: what kind of page to create: HTML 4.01 frameset (strict? transitional?) HTML 5? XHTML?

    More to the point, will your book (HTML…6th ed) explain this to me? Thanks.

  3. I will be publishing just that book within the next month. I'll be posting information about it here, but I'd be happy to drop you a line when it's available as well. You, as described in your note, are precisely my target audience.

    My HTML book (6th ed.) explains all you need to know about how to create and format the content files for an ePub book. What it doesn't show (and what I will cover in my upcoming ePub book) is which features of XHTML and CSS are supported by which eReaders, and how to get the most out of them, and then how to convert the XHTML and CSS files into an ePub that looks good particularly on the iPad but also on other eReaders.

    Any other points you want me to cover?

  4. Fantastic. Will buy existing, and look forward to upcoming book. As to "any other points," beware—as a novice "other points" is about all I have. However, I won't inundate you. I'll read up on book #1 and try to narrow down. Thanks for quick response.

  5. Will your new book about ePub be published in the Apple iBooks store?

  6. Hmm. Good question. I don't know. I'll have to ask my publisher.

  7. I had some major problems with my ePub getting past epub check so I bought this "ePub, Straight to the Point" book and it is the BEST and most thorough book on ePubs –period. With her book, I got over some technical hurdles that were dirt-simple to fix but without some simple explanations from the book you will go no further in getting past ePUB check.

    search for my ePub on iBooks, "The Last Message" –see, I did it.
    –Bill Rice


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