This article is about an application for iOS and OS X. For Apple's PowerPC consumer laptop, see iBook. For the graphic novel publisher, see Byron Preiss.

The iBooks logo
Developer(s) Apple Inc.
Initial release April 2, 2010 (2010-04-02)
Stable release 3.1.3 / September 17, 2013; 10 months ago (2013-09-17)
Development status Active
Operating system iOS 4.3 or later
OS X 10.9 Mavericks or later
Size 43.1 MB
Available in English, Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese
Type Digital distribution
License Proprietary
Website itunes.apple.com

iBooks is an e-book application by Apple Inc. for its iOS and OS X operating systems and devices. It was announced in conjunction with the iPad on January 27, 2010,[1] and was released for the iPhone and iPod Touch in mid-2010, as part of the iOS 4 update.[2] iBooks is not pre-loaded onto iOS devices; users may install iBooks free of charge from the iTunes App Store. On June 10, 2013, at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Craig Federighi announced that iBooks would also be provided with OS X Mavericks in fall 2013.[3][4]

It primarily receives EPUB content from the iBookstore, but users can also add their own EPUB and PDF files via data synchronization with iTunes. Additionally, the files can be downloaded to iBooks through Safari or Apple Mail. It is also capable of displaying e-books that incorporate multimedia.[1] [5] According to product information as of March 2010, iBooks will be able to "read the contents of any page [to the user]" using VoiceOver.[6][7]

On January 19, 2012 at an education-focused special event in New York City, Apple announced the free release of iBooks 2, which can operate in landscape mode and allows for interactive reading. In addition, a new application, iBooks Author, was announced for the Mac App Store, allowing anyone to create interactive textbooks for reading in iBooks; and the iBookstore was expanded with a textbook category.[8][9]


iBooks was announced alongside the iPad at a press conference in January 2010. The store itself, however, was released in America three days before the iPad with the introduction of iTunes 9.1. This was supposedly to prevent too much traffic on Apple's servers, as they have been overloaded with previous releases of the iPhone. On the day of its launch, on March 31, 2010, the iBookstore collection comprised some 60,000 titles.[10]

On April 8, 2010, Apple announced that iBooks would be updated to support the iPhone and iPod Touch with iOS 4. As a result, iBooks will not be supported on first-generation iPhones and iPod Touches.[2]

On June 8, 2010 at the WWDC Keynote it was announced that iBooks would be updated that month to read PDF files as well as have the ability to annotate both PDFs and eBooks.

As of July 1, Apple expanded iBooks availability to Canada.

Upon its release for older devices running iOS 4, such as the iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch, iBooks received criticism for its slow performance.[11][12] However, a July 19 update from Apple offered several improvements.[13]

On September 27, 2011, Apple expanded the premium store to the Republic of Ireland.

On January 19, 2012, Apple announced the release of the iBooks 2 app, allowing users to purchase and download textbooks to the iPad.[14] The new app will support digital textbooks that can display interactive diagrams, audio and video on the iPad.[15] Apple also released a free tool called iBooks Author. The software allows users to create these interactive textbooks themselves.

On October 23, 2012, Apple announced iBooks 3.

On June 10, 2013, Apple announced IBooks for OS X Mavericks. Books are now available for purchase in the following countries; Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, and Venezuela.


As of version 3, iBooks renders text written in 18 different languages. Users of the application are able to change the font and text size displayed. Available English fonts are Baskerville, Cochin, Georgia, Palatino, Times New Roman, Verdana, Athelas, Charter, Iowan and Seravek.[16]

Users can adjust screen brightness from within the application.

Words can be selected and searched throughout the book. Definitions of words can also be found upon clicking on the word and selecting 'define' which will give the reader a brief description of what the word means and if there isn't a definition available, the reader can opt to either search on World Heritage Encyclopedia or the web for a definition, an option available even if there is a definition for the word. Readers can also highlight passages and when this is done, the part of the Ebook which deals with the chapters and notes will automatically save the words or sentences which were highlighted, as well as revealing any notes made after highlighting a certain passage, another feature.

There are three viewing themes to choose from, available for all books except PDFs. The themes are:[17][18]

  • Normal: black text on a white background
  • Sepia: sepia text on an off-white background
  • Night: light grey text on a black background

There are three page layouts: Book, Full Screen, and Scroll. In Book or Full Screen layout, pages are turned by tapping or dragging the page, animated to imitate the appearance of a paper book. In Scroll, there is no page turning, and the book appears as continuous text, read vertically like a web browser.

Until May 2011[19] each copy of iBooks used to provide a free copy of Winnie-the-Pooh, the 1926 book by A. A. Milne, in order to get the user's library started.


The supported e-book formats by iBooks are EPUB and PDF.[20] As of version 2.0, iBooks also supports a proprietary iBook format (IBA), generated with the iBooks Author tool. This format is based upon the EPUB format but depends upon custom widget code in the iBooks app to function.[21]


The iBookstore is an EPUB content sales and delivery system that delivers ebooks to any iOS device (namely the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch) running iOS 4.2 and later. It does not currently support either the downloading or reading of iBooks directly on Windows or Gnu/Linux systems, but it does support the downloading and reading of iBooks on macintosh OS X V10.9 and later.

The iBooks shelf turns around to reveal the iBookstore. From here users can purchase various books from Apple. iBooks can sync between devices, so one could start reading a book on one device and continue from where one left-off on another.[22]

Prior to the unveiling of the iPad, publishers Penguin Books, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan Publishers, and Hachette Book Group USA committed to producing content for the iBookstore. Additional publishers were invited to participate on the day of the product announcement, January 27, 2010.[23] The iBookstore also provides access to the 30,000+ free books available from Project Gutenberg,[24] and it provides content channeled through Smashwords, allowing independent authors and publishers to self-publish.[25]

The day before the iPad event, Terry McGraw, the CEO of McGraw-Hill, appeared to divulge information to Erin Burnett on CNBC about the upcoming iPad release.[26] This was quickly picked up and disseminated by rumor sites and eventually mainstream media outlets as revelation of features of the iPad. McGraw Hill was not included in the iPad presentation at the Apple media event and there was speculation that the exclusion was in response to this release of information.[27] However, McGraw-Hill has stated that the information disclosed by McGraw was not privileged, and that the company had not intended to participate in the event.[28]

In 2011, an Apple spokesperson announced that "We are now requiring that if an app offers customers the ability to purchase books outside of the app, that the same option is also available to customers from within the app with in-app purchase."[29] Due to the 30% revenue share that Apple receives from the in-app purchase mechanism, the financial viability of competing bookstore apps run by other book retailers is uncertain, even though in many countries, the iBookstore still does not provide consumers access to any books at all except for free out-of-copyright works.


Some have claimed that the iBooks interface is a near exact replica of Classics by Andrew Kaz & Phill Ryu, released over a year prior and even featured in Apple's own TV commercials. Apple has made no acknowledgement of this.[30][31][32]

Documents created by iBooks Author in the .ibooks format may be sold for a fee only if they are accepted by and exclusively distributed by Apple.[33][34][35][36] These restrictions do not apply to documents created in other formats like exported as PDF or text files. As Apple officially mentions the EPUB format,[33] documents renamed to *.epub may not be affected. But this is left unclear and such documents are not fully compatible with the EPUB standard.

Trademark dispute

In June 2011, Apple was sued by New York publisher John T. Colby over the use of the term "iBook". [37] Colby claims to be the owner of a trademark on the term 'ibooks' as applied to published books, after acquiring the assets of publisher Byron Preiss, who had published a series of sci-fi and fantasy books under the term. Apple had previously used the term 'iBook' to refer to a line of laptops that it sold until 2006, but Colby claims exclusive right to the term as applied to published books, including e-books. Apple began using the term 'iBooks' in 2010 to refer to e-books sold for the iPad. Byron Preiss published more than 1,000 books under the "ibooks" brand starting in 1999.[38]

See also

  • iBooks Author
  • Google Play Books


External links

  • Video Making & Selling iBooks for iPad