5 Critical, Non-Obvious Advantages of iBooks for Desktop (with Examples of How Your Book Can Benefit From Them)

iBooks Author for Mac DesktopiBooks Author For Mac Desktop

Apple is bringing the iBooks application to the desktop – Hooray!

For the last 3 years, the iBooks application was limited to iOS devices, meaning you could only read iBooks on your iPad or iPhone. But with the release of OS X Mavericks, you (and your audience) can now read books from the comfort of your desktop or laptop computer.

Want to learn more about how to capitalize on the move?

We thought so…and we’ve got some helpful ideas for you to get the most out of the update!

5 Critical, Non-Obvious Advantages of iBooks for Desktop

Without further delay, here are 5 critical, non-obvious advantages of iBooks for the desktop and how you can use them for your book.

No.1 | Conversion Rates

Did you know that conversion rates for purchasing products is 10x higher on the desktop than on mobile devices like the iPhone or iPad?

If you’ve ever tried to purchase something on your phone, particularly if it’s not mobile optimized, you understand why. All that pinching and zooming while trying to see itty-bitty text and images can make you feel like you need to be screen-tapping ninja to get anything done. The entire process can be summed up with one word – pain. No wonder the abandon rate is higher.

Meanwhile over in desktop land, we’re very comfortable making purchasing decisions on our nice big screens that are connected to our nice big keyboard keys. Just think about entering your Apple password or all your credit card information when you hit a checkout page: would you rather do it on your iPhone keypad or on a desktop with a keyboard? Easy choice. And hey, the desktop is where all my passwords are saved too.

Sometimes it’s easier on a mobile phone. But what about purchasing something within a book? On an iPhone or iPad it disrupts the entire reading experience. When a reader clicks on your product link within the book, it takes you out of the book to a Safari browsing window. Then you’ve got the keypad problem all over again. On the desktop, however, it will open a separate browsing screen next to the book (because you’ve got the screen real estate and two things can operate at the same time). The reading experience isn’t disrupted.

The advantage is clear – iBooks for the desktop will increase conversion rates and in-book purchases.

No.2 | Market Size

Your market just go bigger – a lot bigger

Now we know it’s hard to believe, but not everyone who owns a Mac has an iPhone or iPad (and vice versa). Gasp!

But seriously, Apple announced that its Mac install base has grown to 72 million machines, a figure that has risen 100% in the last five years. That’s a lot of machines! And now they all come with the iBooks application loaded on the desktop. Your market just quadrupled.

Now anyone who owns a Mac (not just an iPhone or iPad) can purchase and download your book on their desktop or laptop computer. Can you say gold rush?

iBooks will also sync with its iOS counterpart, so any books purchased from a Mac (or iOS device) will appear on other devices too. This means that if your books have already been purchased for the iPad or iPhone, they’ll show up on the desktop after synching. If you sell things from within your books, this is a good thing for converting those people into buyers. Hopefully they’ll start reading the book on the desktop where they left off on their iPad and you’re conversion rates will see an increase (as we explained above). Might be a good time to send out an updated version of your book :)

No.3 | Ease Of Use

Desktop iBooks will make it quicker and easier to learn everything.

Most people are talking about how the desktop version allows you to have two books open at the same time, something you can’t do on the iPhone or the iPad. This is great news for students and people who do a lot of research because it makes it easier to compare and cross-check things.

But it gets even better. Think about this scenario:

You’re an author writing a book about teaching people how to create iOS applications for an iPhone (for those of you who don’t know, this is basically like teaching someone a new language to speak to mobile devices). You’ve got example lines of code in the book that people need to be able to copy and paste into a different program to see the results. Previously, your reader would be at their desktop running the other program and reading the book on the iPad with no easy way to copy and paste the example text. They would either have to type out the example code by hand, copy and paste it into an email that they send to themselves, or possibly download example files you provided for them. Ugh, how inefficiently painful!

What if the book were on the desktop instead of an iPad or iPhone? What if you could read the book and simultaneously run other programs too? Now your reader can work with these other programs and the book side-by-side on the same screen. You can actually copy and paste the example code right from the book instead of hand-typing it or downloading a separate “course files” email. Much easier and way more efficient.

If you’re in the business of teaching anything, especially if it requires other programs (for example Photoshop, Excel, SPSS, language learning, video editing, cooking, etc.), your readers are going to learn much faster and way more efficiently. And that’s going to make you look really good too.

No.4 | Integrated Experience

The desktop is a more powerful means of communication because it’s an integrated reading experience.

We’ve touched on this a little bit already, but it should be stated explicitly: you can have multiple books and programs open all at once without leaving the book. That’s a much more powerful way to communicate with your readers because information can be shared between programs and across different mediums simultaneously. Abandonment rates will decrease and books will be seen as more valuable even though the content hasn’t changed because the experience of reading is integrated within other tasks.

Features that are present in the iOS version are also more powerful on the desktop. For example, Mavericks’ iBooks lets you highlight passages and attach notes – a feature you can find in the iOS version too – but rather than burying the notes as popups that run in the margin of the book, you’ll see a Notes pane that runs along one side of the page. This makes it much easier to refer to notes you’ve added or attached.

Another powerful feature: automatic citations. If you’re a student (or anyone who uses quotes in their work), this handy little feature is about to make your academic paper writing life a breeze. When you quote an excerpt while writing a paper, iBooks will automatically add a citation for you.

Need more integration? How about this: when you take notes, highlight passages, or add a bookmark on your Mac, iCloud pushes them to all your devices automatically. That way, it doesn’t matter which device you used. iCloud even remembers which page you’re on. So if you start reading on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, you can pick up right where you left off on your Mac.

The desktop version is about an integrated experience that fits into our regular daily workflows. With these enhancements, iBooks for the desktop is that much more powerful as a means of communicating your message to your readers.

No.5 | Context

The context has changed – and here’s why that matters:

The iPhone and iPad are used in entirely different ways than desktop or laptop computers, so when you’re writing and designing your book you need to keep that context in mind through the entire process.

No one would use an iPhone or iPad to learn how to use Photoshop. First of all, the full version of Photoshop isn’t even available for either device and secondly, can you even imagine trying to do all that intricate work on such small screens and without any keyboard shortcuts? It would be impossible. A desktop, however, provides both ample screen space and a big keyboard to meet all your Photoshop needs. You can also have multiple programs, like Dreamweaver, running at the same time. That’s the desktop context.

The question you have to ask yourself now is ‘is my audience more likely to read my book at their desktop rather than on their iPhone or iPad?’ And if the desktop is likely, ask ‘what does the desktop provide that was not available on the iPad or iPhone that can enhance my book?’

This context change means there’s a bigger opportunity for you to enrich the reading experience because the desktop is capable of so much more. But sometimes ‘more’ can also lead to overwhelm and poor usability. Usability is all about finding the right tool or input method for the job.

How, you might ask? Simple: check yourself. When including features or media in your book, be sure to ask yourself ‘does this addition make sense or is it just distracting?’ It’s hard to tell sometimes. But your challenge will be to walk a fine line between enhancements that improve the reading experience and enhancements you made simply because you could. Your goal is to create an experience your readers will love and improves your ability to effectively communicate a message.

Designing for usability and a great reading experience across multiple devices isn’t easy. In fact, there are people within companies whose sole job is dedicated to making great experiences across the board. Why? Because if something is hard to use, we stop using it. That’s where design comes in.

A truly great experience doesn’t just happen, it’s designed that way. It is often used without notice. It seems simple to use, effortlessly beautiful and doesn’t call attention to itself. It’s the bad experiences that you notice. When you work on the design for your book, there are so aspects to consider and decisions to make it’s challenging as a newbie. It’s easy to get lost in the design details and end up ignoring more important aspects because you don’t know what you need to get right and what you can safely ignore. Looking at great design examples is helpful, but only if you understand the underlying problems they solve.

Want to learn more about how to publish your book and avoid these problems?


Comments (2)
  1. Jack Lewis October 5, 2013
  2. Frank November 1, 2013

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