So, I got a sneak peek of the iBookstore.
Books are my thing. So I’m here to share what I saw.
Not everything is up and running yet, as is to be expected. I’m sure things will be fine by Saturday, so I won’t dwell on any functional errors I encountered.
Instead, let’s get right into the meat of things with some screensnaps after the break!
Here is the front page of the iBookstore:
The top banner changes with different book titles.
Let’s look closer.
Here I am in Free Books. I want to note the three sorting options that were available throughout the portions of the iBookstore I could use:
That’s a bit odd. Right away, librarians reading this are going WTF? First, Name really should be Title. And there should be a sort on Author Name or Writer too. I’m sure in time Apple will add such a field. And possibly — hint! hint! — a field to search via ISBN.
I should point out that I couldn’t access distinct Categories for the iBookstore. I came into that front page, first screensnap, and couldn’t find any way to, say, call up Mysteries or Romance or Science-Fiction. This could be due to accessing it without, ahem, an iPad. I’m certain iPad owners will have such full access on Saturday.
Note that these Free Books (points to Apple for not calling them “eBooks”!) are from Project Gutenberg. And they all have a generic cover with title and author. I’ll be interested in seeing these on the iPad because ePub quality tends to vary greatly at PG. But hey, these are free and they are classics. No more will schoolchildren have to scramble to a school or public library to borrow paper or to a bookstore to buy paper. Parents, when your kid says he or she has to borrow the iPad for a book report, it’ll be true!
One of the big questions about the iBookstore is pricing. Here’s the price variability I witnessed:
I didn’t see anything lower than $9.99. But that doesn’t mean anything because I didn’t have full access — plus, the store doesn’t seem to be fully populated yet. The highest price was $19.99 (see later). From what I saw, most prices will be $9.99.
Here’s the first page of Free Books sorted by Name (that is, Book Title):
I’ll leave it up to librarians to leave Comments about that arrangement.
Here’s a page of New Fiction, arranged by Name (Title):
And here is that $19.99 price:
I want to point out something: do not pay any attention to the “73-90 of 116” up there. The iBookstore isn’t fully populated and is still a work in progress. That number will change on iPad release day.
Here is more pricing variability:
I wouldn’t take any of these prices as being permanent yet. These could all be fake numbers. We’ll really have to see firsthand on Saturday.
As I looked around, I got a sense that this is finally the tipping point for books.
I imagined myself using an iPad and looking at these.
So there I was, holding a device that cost between $500-$870. Looking at these books. And you know what I thought? I thought: These are books I can finally buy because this machine I’m holding is something that will be permanent in my life. It doesn’t feel like or look like a disposable thing, like every eInk device. Those will go away. The iPad will not.
I think that’s what millions of people are going to think too. And they are going to buy books in record numbers. They’ve already experienced such transactions with Apple by purchasing music, videos, and apps. They’ve bought those things because their iPods, Macs, and iPhones are seen as permanent in their lives. They will see the iPad in that same way too.
The iPad really does change everything for books.
Amazon’s days of domination are coming to an end.
If I was a print bookseller, I’d start planning an exit strategy and a new career.
The iPad is the future of the book. Period.