Why can't Apple make iBooks competitive?

Discussion in 'iOS Apps' started by calb, Aug 5, 2010.

  1. calb macrumors 6502

    Mar 12, 2009
    Really, I don't know what the position is like in the US, but in the UK it's farcical:

    So you can buy ebooks for much cheaper than what Apple is offering, and printed versions too (from Play or Amazon). The only option more expensive than iBooks is from Waterstones, which basically charges RRP on everything.

    Does anyone have a link to a similar comparison for the US?
  2. illutionz macrumors 65816

    Oct 2, 2007
    Rhode Island
    I personally have compiled a reading list for my own reference (so I know which book I'm getting next). The link is below and as you can see, the price is 95% the same or in some cases (2 books on the list), Kindle is a LITTLE bit more expensive. Also, I would think, price depends on what kind of books you're reading

    Now, that said, you also notice that Kindle has a much bigger library as there are a lot of titles not available on iBooks yet.

    Anyhow, here's my list for price and availability comparison.

    *NOTE: This list was updated last month so there may be some books now available for iBooks and or price fluctuations*

  3. calb thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 12, 2009
    Ah, how foolish of me. I should have applied a little perspective before lapping up the Guardian's story. Amazon are using popular titles to draw people in. Perhaps the rest of the bookstore doesn't undercut Apple anywhere near as much.
  4. illutionz macrumors 65816

    Oct 2, 2007
    Rhode Island
    Yeah as you can see I do not read a lot of fiction (especially NOT Twilight, the first book on Guardian's list.... hell to the no :rolleyes:) so I guess for MANY people who read fictions and popular titles, Kindle will be great... but for me, the ONLY thing Kindle has over iBook is the vast library titles. I have 8-9 titles only available on Kindle... So I really have no choice at the moment if I want to read them
  5. brewno macrumors 6502


    Jun 8, 2007
    Montreal, Canada
    Every book I purchased was from Kindle. I bought 6 so far and the difference was always around 2$ lower than iBooks. Sorry Apple, you're not winning on that one at least for me...;)
  6. IronLogik macrumors 6502

    Jun 15, 2009
    Honestly. I encourage people to use Kindle because it's mostly platform independent. You can get the iPhone, iPad, Mac, PC, and now Android apps. Plus there's the hardware Kindle device. Your books aren't stuck on your iDevice. What happens if someone else comes out with a great product but now you're stuck with hundreds of dollars worth of books that are only readable on your iPad or iPhone?

    No thanks. Kindle for me, even if it is more expensive.
  7. illutionz macrumors 65816

    Oct 2, 2007
    Rhode Island
    Indeed.. and I really don't think Apple can catch up with Amazon for the number of titles.....
  8. IrishVixen macrumors 68020


    Jun 20, 2010

    Being able to move your books along with you from one device to another is something people new to ebooks assume is possible without ever really thinking about it. Later they learn that in general, it's something you can't easily do, thanks to DRM and the various laws enforcing it. With the Kindle apps, this becomes a lot less of an issue. I had over 350 Kindle titles before I bought an iPad--now those same titles are still available to me on both that and my iPhone.

    As for pricing, in the US, five of the six publishers banded together to set their own prices for ebooks. According to the contracts signed, no retailer can set a lower price on those ebooks than each other, so no matter where you go, the price will be the same. The exception is Random House, the largest publisher. Their books are typically lowest at Amazon (who takes the biggest loss on books in order to sell more hardware), and not available AT ALL on the iBookstore.
  9. Slip Jigs macrumors 6502a

    Feb 18, 2008
    I don't mind paying a premium IF I'm getting something extra, and so far I'm not.

    The iBooks app is awesome one the phone and especially on the iPad, and I've done most of my reading on the iPad. So for the price of the books you'd think that the books would be formatted for iBooks and be able to conform that formatting to whichever font you use or font size.

    For example, if I change formatting at all, the flow just does it's own thing, and then the Chapter titles end up in the middle of a page and other goofy stuff. Sometimes there are two and even three different sized fonts going on.

    I don't know how this works on the Kindle reader or the Kindle app for that matter, but it just seems the apps and the eBooks should be smarter.
  10. michaelfields macrumors regular

    Apr 8, 2010
    I just really can't comprehend why it's so much cheaper to buy a book that's printed and you can physically hold/read it than it is to buy something that's digital that they can make millions of copies of for free...

    I can go on amazon and buy a book for like 5 bucks or buy the same exact thing but digital and pay 20 more...

    It's idiotic.
  11. cal6n macrumors 68000


    Jul 25, 2004
    Gloucester, UK
    The books I've bought so far have either been significantly cheaper on amazon, or not available at all on the iBooks store. The iBooks application is so much more friendly to use than the kindle reader for iOS though.

    Time for a bit of "Fair Use", then!

    I extract the books from the iOS kindle application with iPhone Backup Extractor; strip the DRM using eBookUtility0.5; convert them to ePub format with Calibre and then drop them in my iTunes library. Discussion of the scripts used in eBookUtility0.5 is here.

    It's a slightly tortuous route and not a particularly user friendly one but I find the results are worth the hassle. No pain, no gain and all that!

    Oh, and I won't be posting any tutorials or offering any further advice. If you can't work out how to do it from the links posted above and a bit of googling, then you're out of your depth and should leave well-enough alone.

  12. Krandor macrumors 6502

    Jul 15, 2010
    When apple launch iBooks they went to a new pricing model called the agency model where the book publisher sets the price of the book and not Apple this is in comparison to Amazon where Amazon pays the publisher so much money and then sets their own price which could be higher or lower. Now, because of Apple's move several publishers are now forcing Amazon to go to an agency model for their books which IMO is shooting themselves in the foot because I see no reason to pay more for a digital copy of a book.

    I like my Kindle and will keep with that and have the iPhone app for it if I want to read it on my iPhone.
  13. kas23 macrumors 603


    Oct 28, 2007
    Assuming the products are identical, the educated consumer will always buy the one that is cheaper. I don't even know why people would consider buying from iTunes when you can get the same from Amazon for cheaper. Heck, you can even un-DRM Kindle books (well, most of them) so you can place them anywhere you want.
  14. Centient macrumors 6502

    Oct 20, 2009
    Truth. I've purchased a few books through iBooks. It's got that cool bookshelf thingy, and purchasing through the Apple eco-system is convenient. However it needs more titles, more robust UI, and better pricing, at minimum, to keep up with Kindle.
  15. samcraig macrumors P6

    Jun 22, 2009
    It's a book. Anyone who pays more for it in electronic format is silly UNLESS there's a benefit. Meaning - it's worth it to pay a little more IF you want to read across platforms (like the Kindle App). It's text on a page. And how complicated of an interface do you really need?

    That being said - to those that are discussing pricing between Amazon and Apple - it should be noted that Amazon was CONSISTENTLY lower prices for their eBooks vs other vendors and also, in general, had just low prices to begin with for eBooks. Apple kind of screwed that all up by making side deals and forcing the issue with publishers. So the consumer is the one that "loses" on the deal. Because now not only are prices relatively even across vendors, but they have all INCREASED.

    Before the iPad - I don't think I ever read or saw a new eBook for more than 9.99. Not so anymore.
  16. Krevnik macrumors 68040


    Sep 8, 2003
    This is a huge factor... and it's both good and bad for the industry.

    Wholesale pricing allows companies like Amazon to use hardcovers as loss leaders. Sell the hardcover for under cost, to get people logging in and spending money elsewhere (that makes up for the loss on the one book).

    Under the agency model, you can't loss lead on a book because the publisher's pricing is flat out used. The seller gets some cut and the publisher gets the rest. Even if the publisher sets the price so that their cut is the same as under the wholesale model, you get a lot of more popular books that are more expensive, because the paper book is a loss leader.

    The agency model is good because it helps make it difficult on sellers to loss lead and simply undercut all the little guys into oblivion (i.e. Amazon driving a regular book seller out of business simply because the regular book seller only sells books). It's bad because after you've had this loss leader model for so long, customers aren't willing to give up their pricing so easily.

    It's hard to say exactly what the end result is. Yes, sales will drop in response to the pricing, but that isn't always a bad thing per se. The complexity comes in because they are offering both print and digital, and print is still being wholesaled and used as loss leaders while the digital editions aren't. Even if the publisher asks for a smaller cut from the digital editions, the end price can still be higher (in which case, the only one profiting from the extra cost to the customer is the seller, not the publisher).
  17. ratbatblue macrumors 6502

    Sep 12, 2007
    I agree, and it sucks. This is one case where adding some competition actually ended up screwing the consumer.
  18. IrishVixen macrumors 68020


    Jun 20, 2010
    I could argue that there's always a benefit: convenience and time. Those are worth varying amounts to different people. I can pick up nearly any book in paper format used, for far less than I can buy it in ebook form, and prior to the Kindle that's where 99% of my books each year came from. Now though, the only way you'll get me to buy a paper book is if it simply isn't available as an ebook legally, AND it's available used on Amazon, with free shipping. (Consequently, I've bought exactly three paper books since 2/09!) Otherwise, I'm just not interested; I have 75 unread books waiting for me already. It's not worth my time to have to physically go to the bookstore to save a couple of dollars.

    As for the complicated interface, I personally think iBooks is vastly overrated. As you said, it's text on a page. I don't expect, need, or want it to act like a book. I want as minimal an interface as possible, because then it becomes an immersive experience, rather than an intrusive one.
  19. JulianL macrumors 65816

    Feb 2, 2010
    London, UK
    Me too, although I've only bought 2 paper books since 2/09 and I have about 40 unread books. The convenience of having all my books with me on my phone at all times overwhelms all other considerations, even price.

    - Julian

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