We've been having a big difference of opinion here at TUAW central over this question: will Apple produce iBooks/Newsstand for OS X? I represent the "yay" side of the argument. I believe that not only will Apple produce iBooks for Mac, I think it will do so in a way that is well integrated with Newsstand, the new publishing push for iOS for magazine and newspaper app subscriptions.
The naysayer argument against OS X iBooks boils down to this: "People don't take their MacBooks into the bathroom." When you want to read, you want to curl up with a book: on the sofa, in bed, in the loo. Desktops aren't cuddly, and people don't want to read from a vertical screen.
I disagree and I'm not alone. Monster Costume's CEO Kyle Kinkade, a company dedicated to building rich interactive media, explained it this way. He told TUAW, "We are targeting OS X and Windows because we believe that content should be owned by the users and not by their platforms."
Many people do much more daily reading on their computers then they recognize. From web surfing to e-mail, computer-based reading is a fundamental part of the way we get through our day. And reading isn't just about fiction. Reference books have a place in our lives and on our screens.
Why not have a reference open on one monitor as we do related work on the other? Why not offer access to our favorite magazines and newspapers in a more readable and usable form than simple web sites? Why not provide all this with that special Apple experience?
"Remember this: rich applications are consumed more than their website counterparts," Kinkade told TUAW. "Consider Amazon.com. They have experienced a huge shift in usage from their website to the iPad client. Consider Twitter on the desktop. Most people consume it from rich desktop applications, not from the Twitter website. There's a hunger from consumers for better user experiences than just the web. Consumer digital media wants to be interactive. It doesn't want to be static on a page."
Desktop reading is a scenario that Amazon has long supported. It understands the difference between buying platform and buying content. To accomplish this, Amazon offers Web-based readers and desktop clients for its Kindle store. Amazon has simplified access to purchased material across all kinds of destination platforms. Amazon recognizes that desktop platforms are as valid as mobile ones.
So where's Apple? I personally believe that Apple is likely to launch a desktop solution this Fall, in synchrony with the Newsstand launch and will do so with a suite of tools to better create content beyond what we see today. Think iMovie for books.
Sure you can create a basic ePub from Pages, but Pages is not meant to build interactive experiences. It's a text-and-graphics layout program. iBooks and Newsstand have the potential to be, well, magical. They can expand beyond simple reading to build media experiences that go further than words on a page. Apple, the pioneer of new interactive experiences, is poised to take us there.
Industry is responding to this potential. We're never going to see what Push Pop Press was building, but I'm guessing it was something awesome. Meanwhile there's Monster Costume, which is building interactive media creation tools to design and deploy graphic-heavy content to App Store, and to their own proprietary book store. They plan to target iOS, OS X, Windows, and Android, and are exploring additional platforms.
Kinkade agreed. "It's no coincidence that the two fastest selling devices for Apple are the MacBook Air and the iPad. They are philosophical cousins to each other. They represent the ultraportable experience."
As for me, I rather like reading novels at the desktop. It's not for everyone, but when I own a book, I'd like it to be me who decides how and where I read it, not Apple.
Agree? Disagree? Join in the discussion in the comments.