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By Thomas Baekdal - June 2010

Apple: Pay Full Price For an Ebook You Already Bought

Yesterday, I updated to iOS 4 on my iPhone (like everyone else), and downloaded iBooks. The iOS 4 is nice, pretty fast, and a welcome upgrade. But iBook was a disaster.

First off, the iBook app was completely empty. Isn't it supposed to come with Winnie the Pooh or something? Isn't it supposed to already be filled with the other books I bought? What about all the epub books I have added manually to iTunes? There was just nothing there.

I could go into the store, go into the "Purchases" tap, and redownload my books. It was a little annoying to have to do that manually, for each book, but I could probably manage.

But, when I did so, I got this message "You've already purchased this but it isn't available for redownload. To purchase it again at full price, tap OK"

I... what??? AT FULL PRICE!!! Are you freaking kidding me?!?!? Apple, are you insane?

This is yet another of the many reasons why everyone thinks that Amazon Kindle will win this battle. With the Kindle I can read my books on any device, because the Kindle is available pretty much everywhere. On the Kindle all my books, notes, and bookmarks are instantly synced with the cloud. And, I never even have to redownload anything - because it is just there to begin with.

Apple simply doesn't understand the cloud or that people have multiple devices, although many people have several MacBooks, iPods, iPhones, and iPads.


You might think this story would end here, but it doesn't. Because then I thought, "Okay, I will just sync it with iTunes, via a cable to my MacBook," which I did. That did indeed sync all the books bought via the iBookstore, but it didn't sync any of the epub books I made myself via Calibre - books that works fine on the iPad.

Why can I sync books to my iPad, but not to the iPhone? It's standard DRM-free epub files, I don't get it.

Update: Books from syncs just fine - now I'm confused...

As everyone know, I am a big Apple fan, and really like Apple's devices, but my experience with the iBook app reminds me of a quote over at Techcrunch by Jacob Weisberg, Chairman of The Slate Group

"I'm not sure I would bet on it as the dominant device because I think Apple does have the tendency to make the same mistake again and again, which is that it likes closed systems.It doesn't like the messiness of the internet but unfortunately messiness is part of what makes the internet the internet."

And again, the problem is not with the iPhone, iOS or the iPad - the problem is with Apple itself. Amazon Kindle works just fine via the cloud, and Amazon's free reader "Stanza" has none of the problems or limitations of iBooks.

So here is a top tip: Forget about iBook, and use Amazon Kindle and Stanza for your reading needs.


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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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