April 18, 2011
Electronic publishing is expanding the turf surrounded by the word "book," even as it makes what we've thought of as books since Gutenberg easier to acquire and consume. iTunes provides access to the full range of what's available and emerging through its App Store and Audiobooks sections. The free iBooks app in the App Store is available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch and serves both as the gateway to the iBookstore and the more than 200,000 titles already available there, and as your library and reader for what you acquire to read. It will open and save PDFs as well as ePub documents, and delivers a reading experience that supports bookmarks, highlighting, syncing across your devices and more. And it simply feels good to use.
Some books are already appearing in the iBookstore that take additional advantage of the screen and interactivity--full-page color children's picture books for instance, and material like the historical video clips and interviews in the enhanced version of Del Quentin Wilber's Rawhide Down about the Reagan assassination attempt. Meanwhile the Books and Reference categories in the App Store are portals to whole new offerings that fit under "books and guides" but also include interactive graphics and audio. Children's classics and new creations alike are exploring ways to delight and instruct through kids' natural instinct to explore by touching. Further along the age scale, iSolar System for iPad by Marcus Chown explains, informs, and includes rotatable planet views plus working models of solar system orbits available from every "page." And in the Reference category, efforts like iBirds Pro HD hand you the sort of guide you've always wished you had--maps, songs, photos and more, and controls to use and move among them.
You can find audiobooks via the Audiobooks tab in iTunes on the computer screen and under More in iTunes on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, and thanks to the efficiencies of digital distribution, new titles like Tina Fey's Bossypants and Michael Connelly's latest mystery/thriller The Fifth Witness, are available as audiobooks right alongside their publication in other forms.