Thursday, May 27, 2010

iBookstore is iPad Achilles Heal

In almost all respects Apple's iBookstore is the model for future delivery of published materials from college textbooks, contemporary fiction and non-fiction as well as periodicals. But it is not there yet. It ain't cooked. Not ready for prime time.

Apple's iBook reader for the iPad is a beautifully designed eReader software platform with features that give users built-in search, navigation, bookmarking and highlighting features. When you buy a book from Amazon, you just wish it were readable in the iBook application because of the greater software users tools. But on the iPad, everything remains glued to their distribution outlets. I would like all my magazines, books, software manuals in ONE library. But that's not the case.

The iBookstore is Apple's achilles heal right now. Partly due to poor organization but mostly due to a lack of inventory, Apple has a lot of catching up to do. The offerings on the iBookstore are sparse, especially with back inventory and non-fiction.If you have a particular interest in say, urban history and anthropology, the iBookstore is weak. Inventory is critical to reaching a mass market accpetance, although, Apple in a few short months have totally eclipsed their competition.

I've tried to search for a number of important non-fiction books in the iBookstore and gotten no results. Books like "Naked City" Richard Flordia's "Who's Your City?" and "Rise of the Creative Class" bare no results. With few successful search results, I turn to browsing the categories and find, for instance, under "Biographies & Memoires" I'm shown a selection of maybe 25 or 30 books, most of them considered to be "popular culture" or books about well-known celebrities or sports figures. The inventory MUST get better to reach a critical mass audience.

One can only hope, given the aggressive growth of Apple's iTunes music store, that Apple has the marketing muscle to being publishers to the table and make content available, and not only extensive but authoritative in its scope. But they better get moving fast as Amazon had a considerable lead and other competitors like Barnes & Noble and Borders Books have with their Nook and Sony Readers an upper hand with access to publishers even though their eReaders are archane and hopelessly out of date.