Years ago, I purchased a Kindle Paperwhite from Best Buy during one of my trips to the United States. I was hoping to get back into the habit of reading. It didn’t work. I was not carrying it with me everywhere and I found it cumbersome to buy books on Kindle (with a non-US credit card) or download and upload PDF copies of what I wanted to read. I eventually sold it.
Years later, I’ve found the joy of reading again. Nothing trumps the proper feeling of opening a printed book and smelling it as you turn the pages. But let’s be realistic here: I’m not an avid book reader and in order to actually finish reading a book. I had to be practical.
I had to use something to read the book that I’d carry with me all the time. I had to have access to the book when I was unexpectedly stuck in traffic, waiting at the doctor’s office, or simply bored. The one thing that I knew I’d always have with me, the one thing that I’d remember first to bring with me no matter where I went, was the iPhone.
With that in mind, I started buying books on Apple Books, formerly known as iBooks. And if my recent accomplishment of “More books than Facebook” is any evidence, it was the right decision. I was reading more and I was actually finishing them.
Of course, it was great writing that kept me glued to the books. But it was also the fact that I was reading the book on the iPhone that contributed to my continued reading over the day and night. I didn’t have to carry the book with me. Like most people, I had the phone with me all the time. And it took a touch of the finger to unlock and get back to reading. (With the iPhone X or later, it’d take only a glance.)
I found that Books from Apple Book Store work the same way music and movies do from iTunes Store. They are only accessible inside the (in)famous Apple ecosystem. That means I needed an Apple device in order to read whatever I’d purchase on the Apple Book Store. (There are tools to DRM-free the books, but I’m too lazy to go that route.)
This locking down of books received negative impressions from veteran readers; but for me, it didn’t matter. I live in the Apple ecosystem: Macs and iPhone. These are the only devices where I’d end up reading the books. So, it was fine for me.
The only downside of this lockdown is that if I ever decide to move out of the Apple ecosystem, my library won’t go with me. Whatever library I build up over the next few months or years would have to be accessed through an Apple device only.
I don’t see myself leaving the Apple ecosystem anytime soon. But before you invest into a rich library on Apple Books, this is something you should know.
There are a few great things about Apple Books. I can use iTunes credit, added via iTunes cards, to purchase books. Most of the books that I searched for are available on Apple Book Store, making it evident that the Book Store is large enough to cater to my reading needs.
Perhaps the best feature was not that all the books were synced automatically across all of my iCloud-connected devices, but the fact that it remembered the page I was reading. It’s like Netflix, you know. You can start watching a movie on Netflix in one device, stop, and then resume watching on another device. Netflix will remember where you paused so you don’t have to seek at all.
Apple Books remembers this too. This simple yet effective feature made switching between my 27-inch 5K iMac and my iPhone 8 Plus a breeze. I started reading on the iPhone late at night. The next day, when I was at my computer, I just opened Apple Books app on Mac and it resumed my reading on the same page I was on the previous night.
It works with multiple books too. Like, I was reading “The Ruins” over the weekend, but I was also reading “On Writing” by Stephen King. No matter which book I’d opened, it took me to the page I was reading the last time I opened it.
Things like this may be little on their own, but when combined, they become what make the Apple ecosystem a great joy to be in.
I do wish Apple Books had the option to import books from Kindle for those interested. But I don’t have anything on Kindle so I’m good there. You can import PDF or ebooks to Apple Book — and they are synced across the iCloud-connected devices as well — but you don’t have the same customizability of reading experience that you have with books bought on Apple Books. (On Mac, however, the Preview app used to open PDF files can remember which page you were on the last time you opened a file.)
Speaking of customizability of reading experience, the dark mode comes into mind. You can change the background color of the pages (along with the color of the font), switch between a handful of serif and sans-serif fonts, change brightness, and of course, change the font size.
None of the Apple Books features are groundbreaking. In fact, other than the new name, Apple Books remains largely iBooks. It’s just the fact that I haven’t seen a lot of people talking about Apple Books and I think it’s one of those apps that are bundled with every Mac and iPhone/iPad but are overlooked by the majority of the users.
If you’re thinking of investing more time in reading books and you’re looking for an effective way to do it, I think that Apple Books on your iPhone and Mac could be a great thing to try. Kindle also has an app for iPhone, so if your Kindle library is rich, you can use that for reading on the go too.
The key here is reading books on the phone. Many people may not enjoy reading books on their phone, but I found it to be effective enough to recommend that you try and see for yourself.
Have you read any book on your phone?
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