January 29, 2015 Last Updated 10:02 am

First Adobe Digital Editions app for the iPad released into the Apple App Store

Apple kills off Made for iBooks category, eliminating special area used to promote interactive eBooks built using Apple’s own iBooks Author

Adobe today released an iPad version of Adobe Digital Editions, the company’s eReading solution. The app supports ePUB, including ePUB3, as well as PDF.

AdobeDE-screenThe app has the appearance of a utility, as Adobe has not exactly gone out of its way to load the app with an exciting demonstration of the app’s abilities. Inside the app once installed the reader will be presented with a plain jane guide to reading ePUBs and PDFs.

It is an odd way to show off its Digital Editions as the company is, at the same time, trying to promote its InDesign export to ePUB3 solution to creatives. To force the issue, it has stopped offering its Adobe Single Edition app to Creative Cloud members as a free benefit (starting in May).

Adobe is not alone in failing to show itself in the best light with its own eBook products. Apple’s own eBooks inside the iBooks Store rarely use its own iBooks Author and show the company has somewhat backwards when it comes to its own publishing efforts.

Adobe Digital Edition will come in handy when readers what to access eBooks from their local library.


Is Adobe working directly with Apple to encourage publishers to create their digital books for the iBooks Store rather than the App Store? If there is a deal it could lead Apple to kill off iBooks Author as an eBook publishing tool.

Apple recently eliminated the Made for iBooks category, and though books built using iBooks Author still sport a button saying Made for iBooks, there is no special features area for them any longer. This probably isn’t a big loss, as Apple stopped including all iBA books there, instead promoting only a dozen or so titles.

Apple-iBABut really well produced eBooks (such as The Mozart Project), which used to be featured on the iBooks Store home page, or within the Made for iBooks section, no longer can expect much help from Apple.

I think there are two reasons for this. First, Apple sees growth for the iPhone, but not the iPad. “We are seeing more of our book sales starting to come from the phone,” Apple’s iBooks Director Keith Moerer told a recent conference.

Second, as big as iTunes sales has become, and it accounted for nearly $4.8 billion in revenue last quarter (this includes iTunes, the App Store, the Mac App Store, the iBooks Store, and services such as Apple Care), that still only amounts to 4.6 percent of total revenue for Apple last quarter. Take away apps, music, movies, and services, what does that leave for the share of total revenue for books, magazines and newspapers?

Recently Apple said its iBooks Store attracts one million users a week. An impressive number, to be sure. But imagine a print magazine living in a world where RR Donnelley’s revenue from printing accounted to less than 5 percent of its total revenue. It is always dangerous to work with a partner that you consider vital to your business, who doesn’t see your relationship as vital to their business.

What does this portend for iBooks Author? I’ve always worried about the software, it receives so few updates, and its last one did not do the one thing everyone wanted: add iPhone support.

But the last update in October added ePub support, as well as the ability to import Adobe InDesign IDML files. That was encouraging and seemingly a sign that iBA might be around awhile.

  • Giwan 2 years ago

    Thanks for the thoughts (got here from a google alert on the topic). iBooks Publisher seems to indeed be capped. My experience with Digital editions on the computer was not great. Hopefully some of the issues have been resolved.

  • john 2 years ago

    “It is an odd way to show off its Digital Editions as the company is, at the same time, trying to promote its InDesign export to ePUB3 solution to creatives.”

    That’s because Adobe outsourced ADE (+ the underlying Software Development Kit and Content Server) to Adobe India a long time ago.

    So there is no big money invested there, some job is in turn outsourced to Adobe Romania and the product managers in India have very very low standards. Even worse, their standards are abysmal when it comes to beta-testing products: they will ship whatever, the shipping date is more important than fixing huge bugs because they just can’t afford to ship late and waste money.

    It looks like the same has been happening with DPS in the last few months (from informed source).

    Oh and obviously, those two teams are unable to speak to each other: the guys developing InDesign won’t even consider the eReader SDK, the guys developing the eReader SDK don’t even know what InDesign can do.

    As a matter of fact, this very situation may well be used as an example of management failure in management schools….

  • Michael W. Perry 2 years ago

    Not a very helpful article. It rambles and gives little reason for the author’s surmises, particularly those involving iBooks Author.

    It fails to note that one of the main reasons for iBooks Author was so school teachers could create textbooks for their classes. That explains the odd and limited feature set.

    And the limited profits being earned on all Apple’s media sales means little. Apple’s profits come from its hardware. It gives away upgrades to OS X and iOS. It makes modest profits on digital media sales (including ebooks), because that’s not where it intends to earn its money.

    That’s also why Apple pays authors better at all price levels (a flat 70%) than Amazon (varying from 35% to sub-70%). Apple also treats authors better. There’s no pressure for exclusive rights and no attempt to profit financially from showcasing one title over another.

    Amazon, on the other hand, makes little or no profit on its Kindle hardware and intends to so dominate the ebook market that it can treat authors and publishers badly and reap large profits. Examine its royalty scheme carefully, and you’ll find that Amazon is deliberately forcing authors who might price an ebook at $0.99 or $1.99 at $2.99 instead. Their royalty rate then doubles. And for ebooks with limited sales such as textbooks, Amazon’s paltry 35% royalty rate above $9.99 forces many authors and publishers to double their textbook prices to even recoup their development costs. Amazon is not a friend of either authors or readers.

    The article also goes strangely astray when it tries to find an almost conspiratorial link between new features in ePub 3 export and the end to free (but restricted) use of Adobe Single Edition with Creative Cloud.

    The change was not ePub 3 export itself as the article claims. InDesign-CC has long had that. It’s the addition of a well-functioning ePub 3 Fixed Layout format. That allows the vast majority of users to create an ebook that does much of what a Single Edition app does without the hassles of learning a completely new tool. Forcing is hardly the proper term to describe that convenience. And it’s easy to suspect that Adobe had grown tired of supporting neophyte Single Edition users. There weren’t that many of them but they needed a lot of support. Better to end that feature and concentrate resources on features more user find more useful.

    • D.B. Hebbard 2 years ago

      Michael, I think Single Edition users are going to be greatly insulted by your comment. SE was used to create some very good eBook apps that were placed inside the App Store rather than the iBooks Store. In fact, some of those apps were created by those very close to Adobe and have been featured here at TNM since the launch of the iPad App Store in 2010.

      Apple and Adobe have been tied to the hip for many years, despite the kerfuffle over Flash. That the two would work together on moving users to something they both desire, while speculation, is hardly being conspiratorial.