Apple Books App Review

How does Apple Books stack up against other ebook apps?

The Apple Books app delivers a high-quality e-book-reading and audiobook-listening experience for the iPad and other iOS devices. Since launching as iBooks in January 2010, the app has evolved to become a sophisticated reading app. But with so many other e-book apps available for the iPad and iPhone, how does Apple Books stack up?

What We Like
  • Polished, elegant interface.

  • Easy to navigate.

  • Supports PDF and other document formats.

  • Simple buying process.

What We Don't Like
  • Only works on iOS devices.

  • Not compatible with Kindle format.

  • Only available on backlit devices.

Apple Books Supports Multiple Filetypes

While there's an e-book store built into the Apple Books app, the app is an all-purpose e-book reader. You can read the common types of text files using the app, including ePub and PDF. The only major e-book format that Apple Books cannot read is the Kindle format. This flexibility is important since it gives you several options for getting things to read from multiple sources.

Downloading E-Books With the Apple Books App

The go-to place to get books is the Apple Books Store, which is integrated into the app. The home screen of the app provides useful recommendations for books you may enjoy based on what you've read in the past. In the book listings, you can read a sample, check reviews, or buy the book. For added convenience, you can use the credit card on file in your Apple ID to buy books.

The Apple Books Store is packed with thousands of titles from large publishers and small presses alike. Compared with the Kindle store offered by Amazon, however, the Apple Books Store doesn't feel as exhaustive or active. The Kindle store feels like it offers a never-ending supply of free books, indie authors, and deep sales, but many of those titles are low-quality or scammy.

Prices on the latest bestsellers seem to be roughly identical in the Kindle and Apple Books stores. Barring sales, backlist prices are also virtually the same across the board.

The Apple Books Reading Experience

Once you have a book in the Apple Books app, the e-book reading experience is terrific. The books are displayed in full color, and the page turns are lifelike and smooth with the swipe of a finger. Books can be read in landscape mode. A link at the top takes you to the table of contents, and you can adjust the brightness or text size as well. A keyword search and bookmark are also available from the top navigation bar. You can also sort your books into collections for easy management.

One Limitation: Backlit Screens

The one major limitation Apple Books faces for reading is that it only works on iOS devices and they only offer backlit screens. When you read indoors, this doesn't matter much. When if you read in a dimly lit room, you may prefer it.

When you read outside, however, it may be hard to view the screen. Amazon Kindle devices solve this problem with the e-ink display technology, which makes it easy to read in direct sunlight. Those screens are low resolution and aren't in color, but that's a trade-off you make for beach reading.

Learn about the differences between the most popular e-readers: the iPad, Kindle, and Nook.

The Bottom Line 

The Apple Books app is worth a download for book lovers. Even if you don't plan on doing much reading on your iPad or iPhone, you can read samples or catch up on a chapter. The e-book selection offered by the Amazon Kindle app is better, but Apple Books has a more streamlined buying process. Apple Books also has a prettier interface.

What You'll Need

The Apple Books app requires iOS 10 or later. It's compatible with the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Books is also available on all versions of macOS since Catalina (10.15).

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