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Apple iBooks e-reader: First Take

Apple's iBooks: A stylish, crisp-looking, colorful e-book reader and storefront?

Jessica Dolcourt Senior Director, Commerce & Content Operations
Jessica Dolcourt is a passionate content strategist and veteran leader of CNET coverage. As Senior Director of Commerce & Content Operations, she leads a number of teams, including Commerce, How-To and Performance Optimization. Her CNET career began in 2006, testing desktop and mobile software for Download.com and CNET, including the first iPhone and Android apps and operating systems. She continued to review, report on and write a wide range of commentary and analysis on all things phones, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds. Jessica began leading CNET's How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).
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Jessica Dolcourt
2 min read

Article updated 1/28/2010 at 4:25 PM PT with clarification from Apple about the availability of the iBooks app.

Apple iBooks on iPad
Apple

We only got a glimpse of Apple's new iBooks app when CEO Steve Jobs demoed it at the January 27, 2010 Apple event in San Francisco. What we saw was a stylish, crisp-looking, colorful e-book reader and storefront that will run on Apple's forthcoming iPad, and that looks strikingly similar to Classics, an e-reader app for iPhone and iPod Touch. Since the iPad will share the content (and layout) of the App Store, there's a chance that iBooks should presumably be available for the iPhone and iPod Touch as well.

We thought we heard Steve Jobs hint in Wednesday's keynote that iBooks would be available later in the day, but Apple has confirmed that is is only announcing iBooks availability when the iPad comes out, about 60 days from now. In the meantime, here's what we think so far.

As with other e-book readers (like Stanza,) iBooks will respond to the device's accelerometer and switch between landscape and portrait modes. Its controls will disappear when unused, and a swipe (or tap on the left or right side of the screen) will cause the pages to turn. iBooks' page turning looks smoother and more engaging than Stanza's, with page corners digitally curling toward you as you advance, but this is hardly different behavior than what you'd find in other digital readers. IBooks will also include a progress bar to show how far you are along in a book, and you'll be able to change the reader's font size.

Stylistically, we already prefer iBooks to the bland Kindle app for iPhone, which shoots you to a Web page on Safari to browse for books.

We're unsure yet about other specific features, such as bookmarking and annotating, and perhaps Web lookups for further context (but we're speculating or just plain hoping here). However, we do know that iBooks will use the ePub standard. With books and textbooks from all five major book publishers slated to stock iBooks' digital shelves (Penguin, Harper Collins, Simon and Schuster, MacMillan, and Hachette), it looks like the content should stack up against competing apps and electronic bookstores.

Related story: Is Apple's iBooks e-reader app a rip-off?