June 14, 2018

I, for one, welcome our New Apple Book overlords


iBooks: great for pounding down digital manuscript submissions, binge-sampling published books, and helping to obliterate the printed word. iBooks might lack for personality and features, but hey, it’s still better than reading on a Kindle.

This fall, iBooks, first introduced in 2010, will be sent off to whatever cruise line services retired apps. In its place will be Apple Books. “Apple Books will inspire a love of reading,” Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of internet software and services, writes in a press release. “It puts a world of books and audiobooks right at your fingertips, whether you want to dive into your favorite story for a couple of minutes or a few hours. This is our biggest books redesign ever, and we hope this beautiful app inspires both customers and authors alike.”

Customers? I think you mean readers, bro-ski. And it’s publishers, not authors, you should be wooing. Get with the community.

But Cue’s got a point. The layout, with its mindfulness of white space, would make even a poet wag (though, I’m sorry, but watching poets read from their iPhones is the like trying to take seriously a poet with a beret — just stop). All of the familiar features have been spruced up to replace the tired bar at the bottom. Goodbye “My Books”; goodbye “Favorites”; goodbye “Top Charts,” and “Purchased” — you most redundant category, you.

In their places, we now have some grammatically dubious, but no less exciting, new categories, including:

Reading Now: What Apple calls “the perfect virtual nightstand,” which more or less sounds like try to pick a book from the nightstand with every book on said nightstand trying to convince to pick them. According to the press release, Reading Now is “home to the books you are currently reading or listening to, as well as a great place to find a new favorite. With Want to Read, you can conveniently keep a wishlist of books you hear about. Complete the Series or You Might Like present books based on those you have recently finished.”

Audiobooks: Can you believe iBooks has never before had an audiobooks tab? Me neither.

Book Store: Some bookstore somewhere must’ve had an Apple mole for at least a little while, because the new bookstore feature sounds like it takes its cues from all the right things indie bookstores do to sell books. According to the press release, “The Book Store tab makes it easy to browse all that Apple Books has to offer, including Top Charts, Staff Picks, Editorial Collections, and Special Offers & Free. The new design lets you swipe between books, and makes discovering something you will love to read intuitive and fun. As you read more books from the Store, you will receive personalized recommendations based on your purchases in For You.”

Library: The new My Books. Gone are those hideous stained book shelves. Gone are the squinty thumbnail images. As the iBook feature I most use, this is where the app’s beauty truly got me and ultimately made me hot with anticipation. Clean, lip-smacking, streamlined organization. Mm!

Apple Books will be released with iOS12, which launches this fall. No word yet on what the actual reader will look like. Hopefully beautiful. For more info and pics, check out the press release.



Michael Barron is an editor at Melville House.