Dear iBooks: Maybe Apple Is Just Not That Into You …

| July 10, 2012 | 5 Comments
App Icon for iBooks

Twenty apps come pre-installed, but not iBooks …

Have you ever recommended an app to a friend? How about an iBook? Last month, while on a field trip for my child’s class, I was talking to another parent about the many great possibilites for iBooks Author. In the process, she wanted to download something I recommended right then, onto her iPhone. However, we both soon discovered, while looking at her device, that she didn’t have iBooks installed. And she couldn’t install it until she got on a wifi network, since the app is over 30MB.

Before this, I knew that iBooks was an app I had to download onto my iPad, but I hadn’t really thought about how this simple fact might be creating a significant barrier to consumer adoption of iBooks. Why would Apple do this? I assume a decision this big wasn’t by chance. Consider the apps that do come pre-installed on every new iPad:

Messages
Calendar
Notes
Reminders
Maps
YouTube
Videos
Contacts
Game Center
iTunes
App Store
Newsstand
FaceTime
Camera
Photo Booth
Settings
Safari Web Browser
Mail
Photos
Music

I download lots of apps, so the effort it took me to go find the iBookstore app and download it was not a real impediment to discovery of iBooks for a ‘power user’ like myself. But for the mom I was talking to on this field trip, it might actually be enough of a barrier that many (if not most) users won’t ever download an iBook (or even realize they exist separately from apps). It’s like Apple has made iBooks invisible to consumers, while apps like NewsStand, YouTube, iTunes & GameCenter come pre-installed; they can’t be deleted even if the user doesn’t want to use them. But how is an app like NewsStand any different than iBooks?

Why would Apple do this? I honestly have no idea, but if the iBooks App was one of my girlfriends, I’d tell her to move on … this guy is clearly not into you. “Open your eyes, iBooks,” I would say, “when something like Notes comes pre-installed and you don’t, it’s not an accident.” Of course, iBooks can’t ‘leave’ Apple for another beau … so the analogy ends there, but I’d still love to know why 20 other apps warrant pre-installation but not iBooks … any ideas?

Category: 100+ Reviews ... What I've Learned So Far

About the Author ()

Carisa Kluver is the the editor of Digital-Storytime.com, an iPad children's book review site. She has a BA in Anthropology from UC Berkeley and an MSW from the University of Washington. Before starting this project, she was a school counselor, health educator and researcher in child & maternal health.

Comments (5)

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  1. Book lover says:

    Carisa,

    I think iBooks app now comes pre-installed or you get prompted while setting up with the new iPad [iPad3] – http://www.apple.com/ipad/built-in-apps/

    One possible reason that they didn’t do it before was being accused of favoritism [vs. Kindle, Nook, Nook Kids reader apps etc.] as well as potential legal issues, since they had a near monopoly with the app downloads until Android Market flourished.

    • Noel says:

      The iPad three does not come preloaded with iBooks. If you check the link you just gave us it clearly displays a link where you can download iBooks

  2. AliviaQ8 says:

    I too always wondered why iBooks gets so neglected! I just got my Mum an iPad 3 two days ago as well and she had the exact same problem. She was trying to find my book on the iBookstore and she couldn’t. I then realised it was because she was looking for it on the Newsstand and on the App store and did not even have iBooks installed. Come on Apple, give the books a chance!

  3. *sigh* I believe you do get prompted to download the iBooks app now on new devices, but I don’t understand why it’s not preinstalled.

    Apple seem to be focussing on Newsstand at the moment, hopefully iBooks are next. But the whole iBookstore is neglected by Apple, which doesn’t make sense as they continue to lead the space with what is possible with enhanced eBooks. But to get developers making eBooks and not apps, they really need to do more to promote the iBooks app!

  4. When I finally got an iPad of my own, I was also shocked to discover that iBooks wasn’t already on it. You do get prompted to install it but why not just have it there? I assume it’s because Apple isn’t making sufficient money off iBooks right now so it’s not interested in pushing it. Which brings me to another question. Why are iBooks so overpriced when apps are so underpriced?

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