‘Your Media’: new iBA-built interactive textbook from Danish publisher Lighthouse Publish
Finding new eBooks in Apple’s iBooks Store remains a herculean task as the search mechanism makes browsing for and finding new books nearly impossible
Last year TNM attempted to create two recurring features: Books on Monday and the Wednesday Guest Column. The column idea was easier to maintain – though, in the end, getting good columns did prove to be difficult as far too many contributors were really looking to place a press release.
Books on Monday never took off. Part of the reason for this, of course, is that most books still appear in print first, and I was mostly interested in eBooks (though books on the media would have worked, too). In the entire time I was open to publishers pushing their new books to me only two managed to send me either a print book or eBook of interest – and by the time I received the second one I had tired of trying to make the feature work.
One might think it would be easy to just go into the iBooks Store and find something new myself. But Apple really, really makes finding new material hard. The App Store and iBooks Store team are adamant that you will read what they recommend… or nothing else. In one section of the iBooks Store, and I am not kidding about this, the “New” section lists the latest book as being published in 1897.
Yes, Apple still struggles with databases.
One might argue that Apple knows what it is doing: after all, it is the world’s largest company. But it is the world’s largest company because it entered a field with an amazing product that has a two-year cycle. Buyers are conditioned to buy an iPhone and upgrade it every two years.
The problems start for Apple after the consumer has loaded their devices with apps and media – will they continue to do so months after the purchase. Apple doesn’t make it easy on current customers looking for the latest anything. Unless Apple decides to promote it, there is usually no way way to find something new without first already knowing its correct name.
The best example of this is the one TNM has been harping on for more than a year: the Newsstand. Top into the Newsstand on your Mac, iPad or iPhone, what you will first see is the typical front page. But go into any category and immediately you see the store fall apart – the top promotional area is vacant, the “New” section is broken.
The iBooks Store is no different – though I would not call it broken in the same way the Newsstand is, it is simply poorly designed and maintained.
In any category once again Apple does not really mean “new” when it says “New” – it means featured, a small selection of books it has chosen. It would be like going into a Barnes & Noble and finding the front table stacked with “New” books including Penguin Classics.
I noted a while ago that Apple eliminated its own “Made for iBooks” category, a sign that someone involved with the iBooks Store things Apple should give up on iBooks Author as a serious software solution for publishers (even though those that use the solution are pretty enthusiastic about it). If I were part of the iBA software team I’d be sending out resumes.
If browsing the store has been made impossible, one is at the mercy of the store team to recommend something for you. Here, again, Apple has failed to consider buying habits. There is no place to create a profile that would tell Apple what I like and don’t like. This would seem a nature thing to do, and would give Apple a huge reservoir of customer information, in addition to information that can be obtained through past purchases.
One title that I happily stumbled upon was precisely the kind of eBook I would have loved to have written about for Books on Monday, but can do so know.
Your Media is an inactive eBook, built using iBooks Author
(don’t bother searching for the book by typing in “Your Media” because even though it is the only book in the iBooks Store with that exact name, it doesn’t show up in the results). (See comment below, it appears that this issue has been resolved and the book now shows up first in a search for it.)
Written by Jytte Isaksen, and published by the Danish publisher Lighthouse Publish, the eBook is a written to be used as part of the classroom.
“We are surrounded by and use media every day of our lives,” the description states. “One minute we’re on the internet, the next we’re listening to music on an MP3 player or watching a film. We use several types of media at the same time – sometimes for fun, at other times to stay updated with the news, on Facebook, Twitter, via email and text messages. But what exactly characterizes the media that surrounds us, what are they able to do and how do we use them? This book aims to give the reader an insight into the complexity we see in our media today.”
The eBook features plenty of interactive features including video, but comes in at a fairly modest 151 MB in size.
Although Your Media is meant for education, it is precisely the kind of book it would be nice to not have to struggle to find. In this case, Apple made it easy by featuring it in the Textbooks area, but I spend over an hour trying to find something to download and only ended up with a eBooks Apple made easy to find.
As a book buyer all I wanted was to be able to browse, to see what was new. Is it really so hard to include a “New” feature to every category where I can sort the books by release date and have it include all books published, not just those Apple wants you to know about?
Here are a few digital pages from the front of Your Media: