Apple released version 1.5 of their iBooks ereader app last night. The biggest improvement to iBooks 1.5 is undoubtedly the new Full Screen mode. To access it, click the Font menu, and then click Theme in the pop-up menu. Then turn on Full Screen at the bottom of the extended menu.
Full Screen mode hides the faux pages, the faux spine, the space between those faux pages and the edge of the screen, etc. and increases the size of the page about 15%.
Here's what my upcoming book on InDesign CS 5.5 to EPUB and Kindle looks like with and without the chrome in vertical orientation:
Notice that there's hardly any difference vertically. Though you can see the line endings change ever so slightly, I couldn't measure any difference. The old page measured 560px wide by 760px, and the new page measures 560px by 850px high.
And here's what the horizontal two-page view looks like now, with chrome:
Of course, the pages reflow when you go from Full Screen to Normal view, and so it's hard to compare two pages that are exactly the same. In my test, my book takes up 205 pages in normal view and only 178 in Full Screen, a difference of about 15%.
With chrome, a small page (in horizontal view) measures 400px by 540px high. In Full Screen mode, the page now measures 410px by 600px.
iBooks also removed three existing fonts—Baskerville, Cochin, and Verdana—and replaced them with new ones with curious, or at least lesser known names: Athelas, Charter, Iowan, and Seravek. I wonder if this is a licensing thing? Here's what they look like:
They've also changed the highlighting system slightly, and added a Night-reading theme which darkens the background so it's easier on your eyes and your sleeping companions. Indeed, it not only darkens the background, it eliminates it completely. Watch out if you have any images with white backgrounds, the white will stand out:
That will have to be fixed! (I'm hoping to get From InDesign CS 5.5 to EPUB and Kindle out the door today or tomorrow... more details soon.)