iBooks is indeed all it claims to be, very handsome, easy to use and fun to read, users of the kindle may fear that the backlight will cause a strain, but I was reading last night for over two hours and found my eyes were fine. The iPad however does not make it easy to read iBooks outside, when writing this we had some unusual sunny weather, and a trip outside to read on the iPad proved very difficult, the light and reflective surface made it next to impossible. Get some shade however and you should be fine.
iBooks is designed like a physical bookshelf, you can see all your downloaded books on the shelf and click to open them in two views, turning the device sideways opens two pages at once.
The interface is very smooth, and as funny as it is to say this you actually enjoy turning the page. You change the font type and size, from small to very large, you can adjust the brightness of the screen and search for words occurring in the book, all from within the application – the interface does not need to reload to show the changes – they are instant. You can bookmark where you left off in a book, or even multiple points you would like to refer to. The down side to this is, we found, is you need to go to a page which references your bookmarks rather that an easy to find bookmarks option. While reading an ebook you can hold down on any word and do a dictionary lookup or search the book or Internet for that word, a nice touch. If you close the application the page you last left off on reopens.
iBooks store is located behind the virtual shelf which opens using a very nice hidden room type effect , there are lots of titles to be found which are organised by featured, top charts, New York times best sellers, and items you have previously purchased. The store could do with a small amount of tweaking, as it does have a somewhat confusing layout, and makes a new user confused about where to get started. And the link to the free books is very cleverly hidden at the bottom of the featured page.
Like the kindle you can download samples of ebooks, which give you a feel for what the book is about, aside from the customer reviews and publisher description. You can imagine this as tumbling through a book in the book store, this has to be one of the benefits of the store as you can often buy a book and find out you don’t like the style of writing. Of course this is an idea Amazon created for the kindle and it is great to see that Apple also adopted it for iBooks.
To conclude, we like iBooks, but there is room for improvement, for example with the Kindle for iPad you need to close the application to view the bookstore, although you don’t need to do this with iBooks, Kindle still has a nicer layout to navigate around and of course a better selection of books, remembering that amazon has been around much longer. iBooks is still only a baby, but it holds promises of good things to come!