Why iBooks will never come to Mac OS (Update: It's coming in fall 2013)

Why iBooks will never come to Mac OS (Update: It's coming in fall 2013)

Summary: If you're waiting for iBooks to come to Mac OS, don't hold your breath. It's probably never going to happen.

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[Update: I was wrong. Apple announced at WWDC '13 that iBooks will be coming to OS X Mavericks, a.k.a. 10.9, in the fall of 2013.]

Today's iBooks 2.0 and iBooks Author announcements were another evolutionary step toward Apple's total domination of digital content creation and delivery. The problem is that Apple is artificially limiting its new publishing poster child -- iBooks -- to iOS in order to squeeze every last cent out of consumers that it can.

Back in September 2011, I chose Amazon's Kindle app over iBooks for one simple reason: it's available on the desktop. That's right, good old fashioned computers with keyboards -- remember them? (And by desktops, I don't mean the dusty old tower tucked under your desk, I mean anything that runs Mac OS -- including the wildly popular MacBook Air and iMac).

I'm old school though.

I still prefer my MacBook Air to my iPad, and probably use it 90 percent to my iPad's 10 percent. Granted, the ratio inches a little more toward the iPad each month, but very slowly. I like a keyboard, a real keyboard. And I also prefer applications to apps. But then again, I'm biased because I write for a living and love Apple notebooks so much that I started a little website about them back in 1995 -- before Google or the term "blog" even existed.

I know that there are a whole generation of keyboard cutters coming up in the ranks, but I'm not one of them. My iPad will never fully replace my MacBook Air with it's glorious keyboard, USB ports and external mouse. At least not in the foreseeable future.

Back to iBooks though.

Ahead of Apple's NYC presser I was speculating (and secretly praying) that Apple would release iBooks 2.0 for Mac OS so that I could drop Kindle like a hot potato, but it didn't. Apple kept iBooks exclusive to iOS -- and I have a bit of bad news: iBooks may never come to Mac OS.

I want iBooks on Mac OS because I'm Mac primary, iPad tertiary. My Mac is my primary productivity tool and I use it to do a lot of research. If I'm going to invest in digital books, especially reference material like textbooks, I need to be able to reference them on my Mac. Plain and simple.

Case in point: my primary production rig is a MacBook Air connected to a 27-inch Thunderbolt display and Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. I wrote a reference book about Apple in 2008 (Corporations That Changed the Word: Apple Inc.) and I often refer to it while writing. I purchased my book from the Kindle Store so that I can read and search it from my Mac and my iDevices.

Had I purchased my ebook from the iBookstore, I'd have to switch from my production workstation to my iPad each time I wanted to look something up. This kind of workflow is this unpractical, cumbersome and makes researching ebooks on my Mac completely impossible.

Also, the MacBook Air has been an unmitigated success for Apple. Some analysts are even cutting Q4 iPad sales estimates because of competition from -- you guessed it -- the MacBook Air.

iBooks' iOS exclusivity completely alienates students that drank the Cupertino KoolAid and purchased its more-expensive MacBook Air over the iPad. Students who purchased the MacBook Air have no access to iBooks, iTextbooks or any other content from the iBookstore.

It's simple economics. Apple makes its money from selling hardware (iPhones, iPads and Macs) and it sells software (apps, music, movies) mostly as a way to move hardware. Apple's answer to students with MacBook Airs, of course, is to buy an iPad! But that won't be an option for many cash-strapped students who haven't joined the workforce yet and rely on Mom and Dad to pick up the tab.

I understand that Apple is a for-profit corporation and that it's obligated to increase shareholder value, but at what price? Apple will never dominate academic publishing until it makes iBooks (and more importantly its content) available on the Mac.

Topics: Software, Apple, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Operating Systems

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53 comments
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  • RE: Why iBooks will never come to Mac OS

    Forget OSX text books need to be able to be accesed on Android tablets and Windows. This needs to be an open standard!!!!!!!!!!
    jatbains
    • RE: Why iBooks will never come to Mac OS

      @jatbains No worries, I'm sure Amazon or Google will create something similar here in about 6 months or so.
      iPhoneDude777
    • RE: Why iBooks will never come to Mac OS

      What he forgets per apple. ios will become the os for macs in the next couple of generations of mac
      rparker009
      • RE: Why iBooks will never come to Mac OS

        @rparker009
        Per Apple? WTF are you talking about?
        .DeusExMachina.
    • No it doesn't

      @jatbains
      I'm sure that publishers will be more than happy to sell the old fashioned 'tree tech' versions for some time to come. Or are you suggesting that all paper textbooks *must* be made available for all devices?
      use_what_works_4_U
      • Missed the point

        @jatbains
        akpc
    • iBooks on Mac

      Most readers think that ibooks just readable on iphone,ipad.ipod, because Apple have drm protection from being read on other unauthorised devicecs. But latest new report that Apples iBooks DRM can be cracked by the powerful tool-DRM removal tool. Requiem 3.3 http://www.epubor.com/requiem-free-download.html that means Ibooks can be read without limitation.
      Tell u how to run this tool and read ibooks on MAC http://www.epubor.com/ibooks-for-mac.html
      iBooks on Kindle http://www.epubor.com/read-ibooks-on-kindle.html
      cherrywu
  • Agreed: iBooks on OS X would be a winner for users

    My purchases on Kindle vs iBooks are about 8:1 (I buy a lot of books too!). There are two driving reasons: availability and platforms.<br><br>Availability is a real constraint, at least here in Canada. Many books are simply not available in iBooks. They are, however, usually available for the Kindle.<br><br>Platform restrictions, as mentioned by Jason, is the other main problem. I have an iPad (and a Kindle) but many times I want to read books on my Mac, particularly reference books for my work.<br><br>Finally, pricing can be an issue with either store. I've seen ebooks priced higher than the price of hardcovers...delivered. That just makes <i>no</i> sense!
    Dave Ch
    • RE: Why iBooks will never come to Mac OS

      @Dave Ch
      davidswift20@...
    • RE: Why iBooks will never come to Mac OS

      @Dave Ch
      The high price of e-books is what has kept me away from purchasing them. It's ridiculous to pay the same or more for an e-copy.
      kstap
  • RE: Why iBooks will never come to Mac OS

    i think that you are right, Motorola has it sewed up.
    davidswift20@...
  • RE: Why iBooks will never come to Mac OS

    Perhaps we need an iBook to SCORM to any format converter.
    daver22
    • RE: Why iBooks will never come to Mac OS

      Calibre (open source ebook software) can read and convert iBooks (without DRM) on desktop machines. Just rename the file to .epub
      gmeader
  • Yet another example of

    The mistaken notion that because you do something, a vast majority of others also do it.
    baggins_z
    • RE: Why iBooks will never come to Mac OS

      @baggins_z Yes, Baggins, you are mistaken that your norm is everyone else's norm. You, Baggins, are the one mistaken, not Jason. I side with Jason. I study. I write. I have my study material as well as my writing material all on the screen. I read textbooks, search the internet, and write my essays on the screen. No way does the iPad fit in with my writing and study workflow. Apple is unmasking its greed: this decision to limit textbooks to iPad, and not for OSX, is solely to make more money by people buying iPads. Not one thought for meeting the needs of customers. Greed has to take its course. There will be a day when Apple's greed causes it to miss the boat that is taken up by competitors. I'm an Apple users since day one, but Apple's greed sickens me.
      4miler
      • If I were you, while my remaining brain cells are still functioning...

        I'd drop out or quit now, as you have failed to notice that Apple don't stop you from publishing the same thing in other formats. Which isn't a freedom you get from an actual publisher.
        ego.sum.stig
      • RE: Why iBooks will never come to Mac OS

        @4miler
        Seems to me that an iBooks and iTunesU app could sell Macs as well as iPads. I wouldn't rule that out quite yet. Loading textbooks on a MBA seems like a great idea and I see it coming sooner rather than later.
        As for Apple's "greed" I'm sure the great philanthropic societies, otherwise known as Google, Microsoft, Amazon and B&N, will fill the gap with their altruistic solutions.

        BTW, if apple produces a cross-platform, multi-media rich textbook format, will Amazon allow it to be loaded on Kindles? Will they allow an Apple reader app? Don't think so.
        Synthmeister
      • RE: Why iBooks will never come to Mac OS

        @4miller,

        I could not agree with you more.
        I am in the same boat.
        I study, I research, I write and an iPad does not fit in with my workflow either.
        Apple's choice regarding iBooks was poorly advised.

        Thank you for adding your comments.
        akpc
    • Actually

      As O'Grady presented his assumption in the context of students, his is a reasonable one. In the case of my classmates & myself, he is correct.
      akpc
  • RE: Why iBooks will never come to Mac OS

    Not to mention if you want to do any sort of commenting, highlighting etc. with e-books I just don't see how the ipad is very usable for that. I could afford an ipad but its pointless because it will slow down my work. I'm not going to sit in front of an ipad all day doing trying to do my work when I can do it on a much more powerful machine that is easier to use for any real work. This is classic Apple, but now they are shutting out their own customers who buy their products.
    schmitta1573