How Many New Customers Will Apple iBooks Get From the New iOS 8?

Some time today, Apple will start updating its mobile device operating system to iOS 8 for all its users. For ebook publishers, it’s the most important update yet, as iOS 8 will come pre-loaded with iBooks, a new development.

According to an Apple spokesperson, some 150 million Apple mobile devices have iBooks installed as of June 2013, the latest figures available. As of June 2014, the company had 800 million iOS devices in circulation, and 90% of them had iOS 7 installed, the latest version.

Assuming that even half of the 650 million Apple users who do not already have iBooks on their devices install the new operating system by the end of the year, that’s potentially 325 million new iBooks customers — and that’s not even counting the millions of iOS users Apple adds every month and expects to add with the launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

The company can’t expect all those people to convert over to paying iBooks users, but if even a tenth of one percent does, that’s over 300,000 new iBooks customers. If just one percent does, that’s over three million new paying customers, something that iBooks, which now looks like the No. 2 ebook retailer in the U.S. (and likely worldwide), can cheer as Amazon continues to press its advantages here and around the world.

By comparison, Kobo, likely the No. 3 ebook retailer in the world, had 21 million users as of August, according to chief content officer, Michael Tamblyn. Amazon does not share how many Kindle customers it has.

Apple did not specify how many new iBooks customers it expects through the launch of iOS 8, but it is taking steps to try to convert its new users to iBooks. The company will be offering a selection of 54 titles from 39 publishers in 30 countries and nine languages free to users.

In the U.S., the titles include Private by James Patterson (the first in his Jack Morgan series, published by Hachette), which now retails on Kindle for $7.99; The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson (the first in his The Stormlight Archive series, Macmillan), which is on Kindle for $5.14; and Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepherd (the first in the eponymous series and inspiration for the ABC show, HarperCollins), now $4.91 on Kindle. iTunes users can see a complete list of the titles here (those without iTunes will be prompted to install it).

New iOS updates typically launch in the afternoon of the scheduled day, according to Time. Users who don’t immediately download the update will be prompted to on their device. Traditional thinking is that most users should wait until the first update of the iOS comes out to download the new version. Usually, Apple comes out with an update weeks after the launch, responding to bugs and complaints from early users, so, it could be months before publishers see a lift in their iBooks sales from the new installation.


5 thoughts on “How Many New Customers Will Apple iBooks Get From the New iOS 8?

  1. Michael W. Perry

    \54 titles\ sounds impressive, but notice that the offer goes on to say, \from 39 publishers in 30 countries and nine languages.\ Apparently, each individual user will be offered less, depending on their country and language. For instance, when I opened iBooks for the first time this morning, as a U.S. customer I was offered ten titles. That may be most any iOS 8 customer will be offered. And of that ten, only one stirred up any interest for me.

    \How many new customers will Apple iBooks get from the new iOS8?\ I suspect not very many. Yes, fans of James Patterson’s prolific book factory may grab their free copy of Private, but that matters little. Many Patterson fans already read his titles on their Kindles. This won’t break that habit.

    And on Amazon, Patterson, a most clever marketer, has a seemingly endless list of Kindle editions that have the first dozen or more chapters as free samplers. Readers who get drawn in by that extensive sample aren’t going to say, \Oh, I’ll read this in iBooks instead.\ And are there the equivalent free Patterson-branded samplers in the iBookstore? Not that I could tell after scrolling through page after page of Patterson books selling at full retail. Apple desperately needs to expand the marketing opportunities at the iBookstore. Currently, while Apple will let me sell both reflowable and fixed-layout epubs, it won’t let me sell both as one package.

    Apple’s floundering around with iBooks in comparison to their success with iTunes is depressing. As an author, I like Apple’s book publishing ecosystem far better than that at Amazon.

    * When I finish editing a book in InDesign, within a couple of minutes, along with a print version, I can create both reflowable and fixed-layout versions for iBooks. When I queried Amazon about how I could create a similar fixed layout for its proprietary KF8 format, I was told to go to third-parties who’ll change an arm and a leg.

    * At any retail price, Apple pays better than Amazon. Apple pays 70% at all prices. Amazon only pays a fake 70% inside the narrow, $2.99-9.99 range. Outside that range, it pays a pitiful 35% and inside that range a grossly inflated download fee lowers real royalties to around 60%. Apple really ought to be suggesting to authors that they push as many sales as possible toward iBooks. They’ll always make more money.

    * Apple also treats me like an adult. Dealing with Amazon, I’m regularly left with the impression that the corporate mindset there is \we’re smart, you’re stupid.\ You see that in how Amazon has tried to lecture Hachette on book selling. You see that in Amazon’s insulting attempts to get authors and publishers to give Amazon an exclusive. You see that in how many Amazon’s fanboys actually like the fact that their idol leaves them with so few options.

    There’s a link between the minimum effort and expense Apple seems to have put into this iBookstore giveaway and the enormous expense and publicity they just devoted to their botched U2 album giveaway, even though Apple needs to do nothing to pump up iTunes sales.

    The answer, I suspect lies in the culture of Amazon’s upper management. As anyone who has read a biography of Steve Jobs knows, theirs is a world where life’s answers come through music and, in particular, though certain artists such as U2. Their costly album giveaway, wasn’t so much a marketing ploy as an attempt to give meaning to the world in the way they find meaning. However badly implemented, it was well-intentioned.

    Personally, I consider music’s ability to give meaning to life severely limited, particularly the narrowly focused music of recent generations (1950s on). I listened to one of those free U2 songs that Apple was distributing. It was so vague and unfocused, I could make no sense of it. Music like that does move those who grew up using it to cope with their teen years. But music like that is like an addictive drug. It doesn’t cure, it merely demands new doses to create the same feelings.

    At any rate, by thinking that the answers to life lie in music, the upper management doesn’t realize that many people find their answers in books—religious, as well as fictional, and non-fictional. Not realizing that, Apple’s leaders place the iBookstore in the same peripheral category in their minds as they place cases for iDevices. Both are something they sell, but neither is something that matters to them.

    The result is that Amazon is not only beating the socks off them, Amazon is likely to continue to do that as the iBooks segment of the company remains starved for funds and, even more important, mindshare and marketing zeal.

    Apple would have benefited far more if it’d put the $100 million it has alleged put in that U2 album into providing those who buy a new Mac or iDevice with a coupon good for iBookstore purchases. Offering some ten titles of limited appeal won’t convert many Kindle users into iBooks users. But offering them a $50-100 coupon good for the purchase of any ebook would. As with that U2 album, Apple isn’t taking into account tastes.

    In the end, this is bad marketing. The U2 offer isn’t likely to increase the sales of tunes or hardware. A iBookstore coupon would motivate readers to buy iPads rather than Kindle Fires. And it would get people in the habit of buying and reading ebooks from the iBookstore. Foolishly and through inactivity, Apple is conceding a lot of the tablet market to Amazon while wasting huge sums contesting Samsung’s slice of that market in court. It makes no sense.

    1. Laurence OBryan

      Excellent points, Michael. Music is dead as a means of cultural change. Only books, as an artistic medium, retain that possibility. TV and the movies are controlled by corporations, but anyone can publish almost anything on Amazon or on iBooks.

      The sooner Apple gets this, and diverts it’s billions into promoting books and the Renaissance in self publishing, which is ongoing, the sooner Amazon will find it has a real competitor.

      And that competition will spur lots of things, including an improvement in the terms for authors.

  2. Theresa M. Moore

    The installing of the iBooks app on the phones means that people will be able to order books directly from Apple online, and that gives Apple the advantage over Amazon, in that loyal Apple customers will not switch over to Kindles. This is good for iOS users, too. Since my current distributor already markets to Apple, I am encouraged by the increase in interest for both books and music. Since iOS and Kindle’s software are totally incompatible, it’s like comparing (if you will excuse the pun) apples and oranges. The competition between the two companies is already locked in, no matter what either party does. Apple never discounts the price of an ebook, while Amazon blythely does whatever it wants to. Which will win? Only the authors know.

  3. Mars Melnik

    Well, if my initial experience with iBooks, post iOS 8 installation, is any indication of future iBooks popularity … read on:

    So, I just received my first iPhone (a 5c) this week and updated it with the new iOS 8. I then downloaded to my iBooks \bookshelf\ a few books (some free, some paid). Repeat — I DOWNLOADed the books, meaning that the books are NOT only in the cloud but also now on my iPhone.

    What happens next is that often, if I am in a spot without WiFi, and if I have my Cellular Data connection disabled (so as not to chew into my data plan), books on my iBooks \bookshelf\ simply disappear!

    Sometimes they remain, but often they disappear. It’s a bit of a crap shoot. So far my only solution is either to find a WiFi connection or else temporarily enable my Cellular Data connection, in order to download(?) again my books, or else perform some sort of sync(?). Not sure what is taking place, but at least the books show up again.

    I *think* some type of syncing action is taking place, not a true (re)download, b/c a few seconds after enabling either WiFi (if available) or Cellular Data connection, the books appear.

    Nevertheless I’m getting tired of having to jump through these hoops just to read a book which I’ve paid for and have ALREADY downloaded.

    And yes, my books are/were not simply in the cloud but were originally DOWNLOADed immediately after purchase.

    Needless to say, I am hesitant to purchase another iBook until this problem is resolved. A great disappointment, because even though I have a Kindle account, I did not want to load the Kindle app but rather wanted give iBooks a try.

  4. Mary Lou Sparks

    I have been a user of iBooks but since downloading IOS 8 I have not been able to determine how to archive a book. It was very easy on previous releases.



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