Last year, I wrote a piece called Dear Apple, Please Don’t Give Up on iBooks in iOS 11. In it, I shared some ideas I had on how iBooks could be improved, from the standpoint of a reader. iBooks—now Apple Books—has gotten big improvements in iOS 12. But what about iBooks publishing?
An area that Apple Books could still see some improvement (in my opinion) is book publishing. The Apple Books platform could be, no, should be as big as Amazon’s Kindle platform. I interviewed Bradley Metrock, CEO of Score Publishing. He shares my enthusiasm for Apple Books, and feels that Apple isn’t doing enough to make it the best platform for authors and readers.
In my interview with Mr. Metrock, whose company formed the iBooks Author Conference, we talked about iBooks Author, iBooks publishing and the dominance of Amazon in the book market. It has been edited for length.
Bradley: I discovered iBooks Author back in late 2013 when I was in the process of selling a business I had started. I remember thinking iBooks Author was an amazing concept: anyone can publish books that range from merely text, to full-on interactive, multimedia works, for free and by literally hitting one button to publish to the iBooks Store.
Later, 2015 was the year we announced the first iBooks Author Conference. People all over the world were using iBooks Author to create compelling digital content that simply couldn’t be created any other way. Apple employees comprised the largest group to attend both the 2015 and 2016 iBooks Author Conferences, which we appreciated and continue to appreciate.
Despite Apple not promoting iBooks Author properly, in our eyes, iBooks Author usage continues to be strong across the world. Last year, the 2017 iBooks Author Conference was keynoted by NASA (which used iBooks Author to create the digital book Destination: Jupiter) and was sponsored, among other companies, by Southwest Airlines which uses iBooks Author to create a training curriculum that is deployed across their entire enterprise.
Andrew: In what ways do you see iBooks competing with Amazon Kindle?
Bradley: Amazon has a massive lead on Apple / iBooks because they have a superior book shopping experience and a superior hardware reading experience. Despite that, Amazon does not (yet) have software that does what iBooks Author does: providing a relatively easy, yet uniquely powerful, ability to create digital books, publishable with the touch of a button. The moment Amazon does that, it will erase the final vestige of ability for Apple to compete in the space.
Andrew: How does the iBooks app need to change? What about iBooks Author and the iBooks Store?
Bradley: The iBooks app has improved some over the last year with cloud sync support, PDF support, and in some other more subtle ways. It is a quality reading application. Where it needs improvement is in the store experience, where authors and content creators need vastly expanded abilities to express themselves, show off their content, control pricing and bundling and discounting, and truly own the process.
iBooks Author itself needs to change in two important ways: number one, it needs to be ported to the iPad Pro. Number two, it needs a facelift, as it is five years old at this point. It needs new widgets, expanded functionality in how multimedia works within the software (and the books it produces), and a litany of well-known bugs corrected.