A notable omission from the iBooks library has been Harry Potter, the most successful literary book series.Â JK Rowling, the author of Harry Potter, has kept eBook rights exclusive to her own website until today.Â This morning, Apple announced that all seven of the books areÂ finally available to buy inÂ the iBooks app to be read on iPhone, iPadÂ and Mac.
The books include more than just the text of the story. The ‘enhanced editions’ feature brand new interactive elements, animations, ‘elaborate’ artwork, notes from the author and exclusive covers.
In a press release, Apple CEO Tim CookÂ said the company is thrilled to offer them exclusively on the iBooks Store.
âIâm thrilled to see the Harry Potter books so beautifully realised on iBooks for the digital world; the artwork and animations in these enhanced editions bring the stories alive in a delightful new way,â said J.K. Rowling.
âHarry Potter fans are going to love how their favorite stories come to life,â said Tim Cook, Appleâs CEO. âJ.K. Rowlingâs legendary series is perfect for enjoying on your iPad or iPhone and weâre thrilled to offer them exclusively on the iBooks Store.â
Until now, the Harry Potter digital books have only been available for readers to purchase through the Pottermore Shop. Starting today, iBooksÂŽ users can experience the books with all new exclusive custom covers for each title, and typography including the custom Harry Potter typefaces and new section headers and drop caps.
The exclusive-content ebooks are priced at $9.99 each and are availably today in the United States, the United Kingdom and 30 more countries.Â iBooks will be bringing Harry Potter toÂ more languages in November. Preorders for French and SpanishÂ versionsÂ start today.
Apple has scored a belated additional victory against Samsung in its endless patent trial battle with the smartphone rival.Â Apple had originally asked the court for two remedies: financial compensation, and an injunction forbidding Samsung from continuing to sell devices which infringed its patents. The court said yes to the first, no to the second. As […]
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I love the Apple ecosystem. It’s not perfect, and the gap between it and the Google alternative isn’t as great as it used to be, butÂ to my mind it’s still by far the best solution for anyone looking to have all their data and content available across both desktop and mobile devices.
But there’s one notable gap in my own use of the Apple system: books. Despite the fact that my iPad is my primary ebook reader, I still use the Kindle app and buy my books from Amazon rather than Apple …Â
That’s largelyÂ historical accident.Â As a very early adopter of ebooks (who’d have thunk it?), I bought the very first Kindle and it was love at first sight. For someone who loves to read, and typically has more than one book on the go at any given time, the ability to carry hundreds of books around with me wherever I went â and in a device so small and light I scarcely noticed its presence in a bag â was a dream.
As soon as I started carrying an iPad everywhere with me, it seemed silly to carry two tablet-style devices, so at that point I switched to using my iPad as my ebook reader. But with hundreds of books in the Kindle format, and no reason to convert them, I stuck with Amazon for my purchases.
I’m far from alone in this, of course: Kindle remains the dominant ebook platform. But to see some of theÂ numbers that have been floating around over the past year or so, you might think it’s only a matter of time before iBooks overtakes Kindle.
AÂ UK study found that 50% of ebook readers used Kindle while 31% used iBooks. A US study last summer suggested that in the 18-24 age-range, iBooks was now just 2% behind Kindle.Â In January, Apple’s iBooks headÂ Keith Moerer said that the store had averaged a million new customers a weekÂ since the launch of iOS 8 and Yosemite.
As a reader, I’d idly wondered whether iBooks really could be gaining ground at such a rapid pace. My circle of friends includes a lot of avid readers, and a lot ofÂ iDevice owners too, yet almost everyone I know buys from Amazon rather than Apple.
But publishing my own technothriller novels (11/9 and The Billion Dollar Heist â thanks for asking) was the first time when my skepticism seemed to be backed by some hard data. Both books were available on Amazon, iBooks, Nook and Kobo â and sales data allow me to see exactly where my sales are coming from. The results were interesting, to say the least:
Kobo: Zero sales
Given that I write a lot about Apple, and most of my Twitter followers probably discovered me through a link to an article onÂ 9to5Mac, it’s a pretty safe bet that my readers and followers comprise a higher than average proportion of Apple owners.Â So I have to think that 7% is higher than for the average author out there.
So, both my anecdotal experience of friends, and some hard sales data for a couple of novels, suggests that iBooks is a lot further behind Kindle than some of the more general numbers might suggest. How to explain this?
I think the answer may be inÂ the fact that users, customers and sales may be three very different things. iBooks now comes installed as standard on Macs, iPhones and iPads. Anyone who ever opens up the appÂ to read part of a single book may be counted as a ‘user.’ I also ratherÂ suspect that Apple’s ‘customer’ numbers include anyone who has downloaded a book from iBooks, free or paid.
But even if customers are people who have paid for books, if your average iBooks customer buys one bookÂ a year and your average Kindle customer buys 13 books a year, there’s your 7%/92% split. So my suspicion is that even if iBooks is doing ok on the user and customer front, Kindle is still probably well ahead on sales.
And a recent change to Amazon’sÂ payment to authors for books borrowed by Prime and Kindle Unlimited members means that iBooks may be left even further behind. Amazon now pays authors per page read of the books members borrow.Â For longer books like mine, it looks likely that the revenue from lending â which requires ebooks to be exclusive to Amazon â would significantly outweigh theÂ sales revenue from iBooks. Which was the reason I was studying the numbers in the first place: making the decision to pull my books from iBooks, Nook and Kobo.
Do you buy ebooks from iBooks, Kindle or elsewhere? Recognizing that some may buy from more than one source, please tick the one that represents the majority of your purchases, only going for the ‘Even split’ option if the split is close to 50/50.Â As always, let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Linda Dong, a former Prototyping Team member at Apple, shared a fascinating blog post this week that highlights an interesting use case for developers and designersÂ using Apple’s iAd Producer app.
Think of it as “advanced Keynote”, orÂ “actually accessible Interface Builder”.Â Alas the app is meant for not-so-popular content like iAds and iBooks widgets, but it can easily beÂ repurposed to prototype iOS and Mac apps. It handlesÂ UI elements,Â screen flow, and animation really well.
She goes on to explain how you can remove the default iAd UI overlays when using iAd Producer for iOS and Mac app prototyping, while explaining how the drag-and-drop nature of the app makes it easy to use.
Her write-up continues by detailing how iAd Producer incorporates animations that will be familiar to Keynote users, event triggers on objects within apps, supports CSS filters, and even previewing app designs and interactions on realÂ devices for testing.
You can read her full blog post and see some of her workÂ here, andÂ grab iAd Producer from Apple’s developer centerÂ if you’re a member. Have you used iAd Producer for any interesting app prototyping or other ways that vary from iAd and iBook widget creation?
[Update 1:45 PM: Apple’s system status page now reports that the widespread outage has been resolved including an issue with iTunes Connect. Apple Music services may require relaunching iTunes or Music to resume playback.]
Last night Apple announced that its Beats 1 web radio station would be the exclusive outlet for MTV to announce the Video Music Award nominees this year. The reveal was scheduled for 7 AM Pacific time this morning, but many users are finding themselves unable to tune in.
Listeners took to Twitter to point out that Apple Music, the Beats 1 station, and several other iTunes-related services are failing to load.
Update 2 9:45PM ET: Users this evening again reported issues centered around iCloud. The outage affected all store services, according to Apple’s status page. It appears to have been resolved, however, with the exception of Game Center.
Update: After about an hour of downtime and still with no admission from Apple of anything ever having gone wrong, iCloud services seem to be coming back online now.
Despite being listed as fully functional on Apple’s status page, it seems iCloud is once again down for many users. Reports across Twitter and in our own experience here at 9to5Mac have verified that iCloud and the App Store (and possibly other Apple services) are currently down.
Aside from bugging out on native devices like Macs and iPhones, the problem is poppingÂ up on the iCloud.com web interface (seen above) and even seems to be blocking users’ ability to open the iCloud panel in System Preferences, as doing so causes both the Preferences app and the iCloud Services process to stop responding.
As mentioned above, the App Store also seems to be having some issues with installing and updating apps, which is probably related to this downtime.Â Downloads from the iTunes Store and iBooks also seem to be affected, though all of the stores still load just fine. Photo syncing across platforms is stalling out for some.
iMessage appears to be having problems for a number of users, though others are still able to use the messaging service without issue. Find My iPhone is inaccessible for the web and fails to login from the mobile app.Â iOS activations are also impacted, so iOS users trying to activate new or recently updated devices will be unable to do so.
@MikeBeas activations too! Trying to activate a new iPhone and cant.
Not all iCloud services seem to be totally down, however. For example, the Notes and Contacts applications still syncs across devices.Â iCloud mail can’t receive incomingÂ mail, but is able toÂ send messages for some users. Podcast downloads, while technically part of iTunes, are up as well. Some reports of Find My Friends breaking are also rolling in, but in our testing that still seems to be running.
Over the past week, we’ve published several articles detailing the future of iOS (the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch’s operating system), OS X (the Mac’s operating system), and Watch OS (the software that runs on the Apple Watch). With the long weekend ahead, we’ve decided to put together a roundup of all of our published stories on these topics…
–Â iOS 9 & OS X 10.11 to bring âqualityâ focus, smaller apps, Rootless security, legacy iPhone/iPad support: This extensive story reveals Apple’s plans for using its 2015 Mac and iOS updates as a time to introduce significant performance, optimization, and bug fix-based enhancements. We also share the first details about Apple’s upgraded Swift programming language and platform for developers. Apple is also planning to add some new features to the Mac, including a Control Center panel that swipes out from the left side of a Mac’s display.
Stay tuned next week as we’ll have many details on other major new features coming to iOS. As the early June Worldwide Developers Conference gets closer, we’ll publish a thorough roundup of everything to expect, so keep an eye out for that as well.
I began the editing on my Macs â the Pro when I was at home, the Air when I was elsewhere. At that point, I still wanted to be in Scrivener in case structural edits were needed: scenes that needed to happen earlier or later in the story.
I also used my Macs to incorporate feedback from alpha and beta readers. Alpha readers were subject-matter experts (airline pilot, aircraft engineer, software developers and so on), who could identify any technical errors or omissions. Beta readers were technothriller fans who provided more general feedback on the story itself.
I sent them PDFs of the novel which I asked them to annotate. I could then edit with the annotated PDF on the left of my screen, the novel in Word on the right, making it easy to search for phrases in order to make the necessary edits.
But when it came to my own edits, most especially getting a feel for how well the story flowed, I wanted to actually read it as a book, not as a document on a computer screen. I thus turned it intoÂ an EPUB file so I could load it into iBooks on my iPad. I also formatted it as a paperback and got a few proof copies printed through a print-on-demand service. I could then experience reading it as a book in both ebook and paper forms.
This, I found, made a big difference. I found that there were sections where I got a little carried away with my fascination for the technical details, and where it made sense to simplify and shorten. I also found sections where the opposite was true: where I could heighten the tension by going into a little more detail about one scene before switching viewpoint.
When reading on my iPad, it made sense to make the edits on it too (opening the novel in Pages). And when reading the paperback, the instant on/off of the iPad made that a more convenient devices than a Mac to incorporate the edits from that.
So the process of planning, writing and editing the novel saw it variously take form as a Scrivener document, Word file, PDF, EPUB book and Pages document.
Once finally edited (eight drafts in all), it was time to think about getting it in front of readers. I initially had a fairly big-name agent (a story you can read over on Kickstarter), but the tl;dr version is that I eventually figured self-publishing was likely to be faster and probably net me a similar return.
The technical side of self-publishing isnât too challenging for the average 9to5Mac reader. You need to get to grips with converting between a bunch of different file formats, and even techies will probably find life easier with some ebook creation software designed for the job, but itâs not rocket science.
What is rocket science is figuring out how you get people to find out that the book even exists. A VIP subscription to BiblioCrunch gets you email consultancy and access to a sizeable collection of really useful info and links among them services to publicize your book. These services range in cost from $99 up to four-figure sums. It was clear that some seed capital would be handy.Â Kickstarter was an obvious way to raise that seed money, withÂ the added benefit of also providing some initial publicity itself.
I spoke with Maris Kreizman, who is in charge of Kickstarterâs publishing projects, to find out how viable a platform it is for self-publishing. The answer was pretty encouraging, with over 6,000 projects launched,with around a third of them getting funded.
The difference, says Kreizman, is largely one of presentation. Although youâre pitching a book, you still need visuals and video. And rewards should all be related to the book, rather than merchandising like t-shirts and the like.
Kreizman also warned that many publishing projects had failed to do their shipping sums properly, hence my decision not to offer a standard paperback as I could see that shipping costs could easily result in a loss. I also figured that the majority of technothriller fans were likely to want the novel in ebook form anyway.
As with conventional publishing, you shouldnât expect it to be retiring anytime soon, but the Kickstarter generated enough seed money to buy a chunk of promotion, which will hopefully pay off when I launch on iBooks and Amazon in ebook form next month and paperback in July (once Kickstarter backers have gotten their copies first).
Update:Â The maintenance lasted about half an hour and is now complete with all services restored according to the system status dashboard.
Apple’s system status dashboard is reporting an ongoing service disruption for multiple store services “due to scheduled maintenance.” Apple’s message says service unavailability may affect all users. Specifically, the maintenance is impacting the App Store, Apple TV, iBooks Store, iTunes in the Cloud, iTunes Store, and Mac App Store services.
Unlike recent Apple service outages, the service disruption is intentional as part of scheduled maintenance, although some users are reporting iCloud syncing issues and iCloud Mail delays not acknowledged by the system status dashboard. A widespread outage last month prompted Apple to publicly apologize to customers for the service interruption.