Apple is currently dominating eBook sales on iOS and has now bundled their iBookstore on all devices that run iOS 8. The Capturino company has relegated Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo to being ineffective players on the global stage, and its by design.
July 2011 was a dark day for readers, as Amazon, Nook and Kobo eBook sales were suspended on iOS. The companies all updated their apps to remove the ability to purchase books, comics, newspapers and magazines. The booksellers all did this because Apple had implemented a policy for all in-app purchases to be done through them and not 3rd parties. This would not be so bad, but Apple also was taking a 30% commission out of every purchase. All of the major eBook players realized that they were losing critical user data and giving Apple a cut of millions of dollars worth of sales did not make financial sense.
Online booksellers have to pay a percentage to the publisher whenever a book is sold and most companies like Amazon rely on razor thin margins. It was impossible to give Apple a 30% cut of every sale, they would likely lose money.
Today, customers cannot install the Kindle or Nook app and buy books. They apps themselves have all turned into glorified e-reading apps. This Apple policy has also damaged comic book sellers, such as Comixology. They removed in-app purchases back in April 2014, a few weeks after it was acquired by Amazon. Comic lovers lambasted the company saying they removed the discovery and impulse purchase aspect of the app, thereby ruinning the experience. Honestly, who wants to visit a website to browse, buy and sync over new content to the app. Wouldn’t it be way easier just to deal with a company that had in-app purchases? This is how Apple is winning the eBook war on iOS.
Apple has sold more than 550 million iPhones and more than 237 million iPads, and its impact on the eBook market is set to grow significantly. The new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, both have larger screens than their predecessors. This makes e-reading more enjoyable, and comics and graphic novels shine a bit more.
Apple is now ramping up their efforts to reach casual readers with new discovery features in iBooks. The app now includes a solid selection of free eBooks and additional categories to help consumers find the books they want. The titles offered in the “Great Free Books” section represent a variety of genres and reading tastes. Among them are Private by James Patterson, Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard, How the García Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez and Justice League, Vol. 1: Origin by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee.
One of the big new initiatives on the iBooks app is curation and editorial content. There is now more seasonal and topical lists that abide by cool themes. Oh, and one of the biggest cleanups was removing Breakout Books, which was sourced by Smashwords. Indie authors have been booted off from the platform, in order to help readers find more quality content. In the future, you will soon be able to get book recommendations before and after purchases with technology leveraged by Booklamp, a company Apple bought a few months ago.
Apple is borrowing a page out of Barnes and Nobles playbook by advertising their online bookstore in the retail environment. There is a new promotion campaigns to advertise the social aspect of the store and to make it clear how easy it is to buy and read. Recently, Apple orchestrated a Meet the Author events at the SoHo store in Manhattan. It featured bestselling YA novelist John Green, comics artist Jim Lee, Batman writer Scott Snyder, and actress and author Gillian Anderson.
There simply isn’t any major competition left on iOS that Apple has to compete with anymore. All newspaper, magazine, newspaper and audiobook sales are all sourced from the Newsstand or iTunes directly, so Apple gets a cut out of everything.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.