Apple might be working on a major redesign of its iBooks reading app, reports Bloomberg, adding that the company has hired an executive from Amazon to work on the project. The new iBooks app reportedly also has a Reading Now tab, presumably to give the user quick access to the titles at the top of their reading list, and a dedicated audiobook section.
The iBooks app was renamed to just Books in iOS 11.3, which was recently released to developers, but the real changes are coming in the following months, according to the report. Ultimately, we reported at the time, Apple was forced to pony-up a whopping $450 million fine to settle the claims.
Amazon's Audible had always been the exclusive supplier for audiobooks to Apple, but the two companies had to change their relationship a year ago after regulators had taken issue with the Apple effectively shutting out other sellers. Selling digital books was once a key part of Apple's services business, and the company was a contender against Amazon.
By now, Amazon's stranglehold on the ebooks market is fairly obvious.
The e-commerce giant had just over 83 percent of the US e-book market in early 2017, up from 74 percent in October 2015, according to AuthorEarnings, which tracks book sales for writers and other industry participants. But Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has pledged that services will generate about $50 billion in annual revenue by 2021, up from $30 billion previous year.
Apple's electronic book efforts are being led by Kashif Zafar, who started working for the company as its global head of iBooks in December. Zafar previously served as senior vice president of Audible, so he should certainly know his way around audiobooks.
Apple's renewed effort highlights its different approach to software services and hardware, compared with Amazon. That could mean that Apple plans to make discovering new books through the Books app easier, possibly with categorical tabs and book cover art throughout the digital store. Apple sells e-books to make its high-priced devices more attractive, making money on the sale of the hardware.