When Steve Jobs talked up iBooks earlier this year, it sounded like it had the potential to put reigning e-book champions such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon on the ropes.
However, after six months of offering up downloadable text content to capable iOS devices, it appears that the once seemingly mighty contender hasn't been able to do much more than land a few rabbit punches. Despite the iPad's rabid popularity, neither major publishers, nor the book buying public have embraced iBooks.
After more than half a year online, Apple's iBook Store is still only offering up approximately 60,000 titles. When held up against the 700,000 titles offered by Amazon for their Kindle reader software and hardware solutions, Cupertino's library looks pretty weak. Did we mention that about half of the titles available as iBooks are also available from Project Gutenberg? C'mon Steve, this is embarrassing.
The ever-vigilant Apple watchers over at The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW, y'all) have published a fascinating, if not somewhat depressing read on the current state of Apple's once promising e-book portal, covering what works, what has failed and a few explanations for all of the above. Some of the biggest sticking points included a limited offering of books that appear in the much touted New York Times Best Seller's List, higher prices than other e-book retailers and the utter non-existence of a recommendation system, which given Apple's implementation of the Genius feature in iTunes, is more than a little baffling.
With how Apple's vision has changed the very shape of the music industry, it's surprising that they've yet to gain traction in the area of peddling virtual pages. Let's hope, for those who enjoy both their iOS devices as well as a good read from time to time, they get it right eventually.
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