[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.