Apple reportedly plans major iBooks update to challenge Amazon in audiobooks and ebooks


Apple’s iBooks app, which was released alongside the iPad and an iBook store in April 2010 as a challenger to Amazon’s Kindle business, is reportedly about to see its first major upgrade in nearly eight years. According to Bloomberg, iBooks is being redesigned with a new bookstore, a spotlight on the user’s current places in books, and improved audiobook integration, all under a slightly tweaked name: Books. The new name first appeared in the beta version of iOS 11.3 released yesterday, but the new features are expected to arrive “in coming months.”

Apart from an iOS 7 makeover that visually neutralized its textured interface, and the addition of textbook support, the iBooks app has changed little since its launch. Currently, a five-tab interface focuses first on a virtual bookshelf, followed by three bookstore search tabs and a fifth tab spotlighting prior store purchases.

Inspired by recent changes to the News and App Store apps, the updated Books app will reportedly contain a new tab called Reading Now to highlight books currently being read, as well as a dedicated tab for audiobooks. Apple will also likely cut the current four store tabs down to one or two. The redesigned store will be akin to the iOS 11 App Store.

Apple’s changes to the Books app coincide with its hiring of Kashif Zafar, a senior vice president of Amazon’s Audible audiobooks group and former vice president with Barnes & Noble’s Nook division. Bloomberg reports that Zafar is leading Apple’s new Books effort, which had stalled after an April 2012 Department of Justice lawsuit and subsequent $ 450 million fine for conspiring to raise ebook prices. Since the lawsuit, AuthorEarnings says that Amazon’s share of the U.S. ebook market has grown to over 83 percent as of 2017, and Apple’s has shrunk to 9 percent.

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