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Apple Refuses Ebook with Tits on Cover; French Go Crazy

According to Le Monde, Apple has refused to sell a book with a picture of tits on its cover. The publisher – a small press, which hardly anyone had heard of before this event – is crying foul. Using phrases like “censorship” and “a violation of freedom of expression,” this publisher is calling on the French Minister of Culture, and even the European Commission, to act on their behalf and force Apple to accept their book’s cover.

Now, I’ve written about Apple’s hypocrisy in this area before, but this is not about censorship, and it is no threat to the “freedom of creation,” as the French publisher claims. No one can force any store to sell a specific item; any retailer has the right to choose what they sell. You may not agree with their rules, but it in no way threatens your “freedom of expression.”

Apple does have stringent rules for their stores: these say that you can’t have nudity on covers of items, but they go much further, as developers I know have found out. There are many words you can’t use in descriptions, and the rules about how apps work are even more byzantine.

No, French publisher, you’re not being censored. Apple’s “prudishness” may bother you, but it’s their store, and you play by their rules. Apple sells their content in many countries that are far more prudish than the United States, so it’s probably that their rules are stricter for that reason. Get a grip.

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OS X 10.9 Mavericks: Save PDFs to iBooks

New to OS X 10.9 Mavericks is the iBooks app, which can manage and read books in EPUB format, as well as PDF files. You can sync these books to iOS devices via iTunes. I’ve written about some of the problems with iBooks here.

One interesting feature in iBooks is a new PDF service that allows you to create PDF files from any document in OS X and save it directly to your iBooks library. This is easy to invoke. Just press Command-P to print a file, then click on the PDF menu and choose Add PDF to iBooks.

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This will save the file in your iBooks library. If you have an iOS device set to sync all books (click on the device, then on the Books tab), this will also sync the PDF file automatically the next time you sync the device. So if you want to save PDFs of articles to read, you could use this to save them directly to iBooks, and sync them to your iPad.

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OS X 10.9 Mavericks: Sharing Your iBooks Library

Until the arrival of OS X 10.9 Mavericks, and the new iBooks app for Mac, you could use Home Sharing to share all of the content in your iTunes library, including books. Now that iBooks has sequestered your ebooks, you can no longer easily share them with family members.

Home Sharing is useful because it allows you to share the content of your entire media library, not just items you have bought from Apple. For the latter, you can always log in to your account on a second computer and download them from Apple’s stores, whether they are apps, music, videos or books. But for any content that you’ve added yourself – music you’ve ripped or purchased from other vendors, or ebooks that you’ve purchased without DRM and added to your library – Home Sharing made it easy to transfer.

So there’s no easy way to share your iBooks library any more. Why Apple didn’t include a Home Sharing setup in iBooks is surprising, but they also removed sharing from iPhoto libraries.

If you want to share books, one of the easiest ways is to use the new AirDrop feature.

1. On each computer, open a Finder window and choose Go > AirDrop, or press Command-Shift-R.

2. On the Mac you want to copy the books from, go to iBooks and select the books you want to send to the other Mac.

3. Next, drag these books to a Finder window (not the AirDrop window). Drag them to the AirDrop window, then on the icon for the Mac you want to send them to. You’ll see something like this:

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4. Click Send, then, on the other Mac, click Save in the dialog that displays in the AirDrop window. The files will be saved to the Downloads folder on that Mac.

5. Switch to the iBooks app and drag the files you’ve received into its window; the books will be added to your library.

Home Sharing certainly was a lot easier. It’s a shame it’s gone, because this method has many more steps. But this is the easiest way to share your ebooks from one Mac to another.

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OS X 10.9 Mavericks: Where Did My Books Go?

One of the new apps in Mavericks is iBooks. This is the desktop version of the app you’ve been using for years on your iOS device to read books. It’s quite good to finally have a desktop iBooks app. For example, if you want to read my Take Control of iTunes 11: The FAQ and work with iTunes, it’s not very practical to have to read the book on your iPad – or iPhone – while working on your Mac. Now, you can read it while you fiddle with iTunes.

Before, your books were in your iTunes library, and they were stored in your iTunes Media folder. When you launch iTunes under Mavericks, and choose the Books library, you’ll see a screen telling you that your books have moved. When you click a button, you’ll see iBooks open, showing the following:

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But iBooks doesn’t tell you where your books are. There’s no Reveal in Finder command, and it’s not easy to find them. This is important because, if you want to back up your books, you need to know where they are. (Naturally, if you just back up your entire Mac, this isn’t an issue, but some users, like me, have multiple hard disks, and back up certain types of content on different backup disks.)

To find your books, you first need to make the Library folder inside your home folder visible; see this article for an easy way to do this, not involving a Terminal command, as it did in the past.

Next, go to that Library folder, and look for the following:

/Library/Containers/com.apple.BKAgentService/Data/Documents/iBooks/Books

The above is a file path; the text between each set of slashes is the name of a folder. So you open the Library folder, then Containers, and so on.

If you want to access your books from time to time, you might want to make an alias of the iBooks folder and put it somewhere useful, such as in your Documents folder. And make sure you back up the iBooks folder – and all its sub-folders – if you want to keep your book collection safe.

Update: There’s an easy way to get copies of books in your iBooks library: just drag them to the Desktop or to a folder.

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Can Apple Make iBooks Match for Books?

TechCrunch is reporting that an upcoming Apple event, to be held in January, will focus on ebooks, and the company’s iBooks app. My first thought is that there’s not much they can do with iBooks to warrant a media event, with a presentation and announcement, but then I thought a bit more. What if Apple were going to unveil iBooks Match?

You’re probably familiar with iTunes Match. For $25, you can have iTunes match your music library, making your music available in the “cloud,” either matching tracks with music from the iTunes Store, or uploading those tracks that are not available in the latter. Why not do something similar with iBooks? I have literally thousands of dead-tree books, and some of them are big and unwieldy, and I would love to be able to read them on my iPad, rather than on paper. (In fact, I’ve been wanting to read Shelby Foote’s Civil War Trilogy for some time, but the books are humongous.)

iBooks Match could work like this. Using the camera built in to all recent and current Macs – or even iOS devices – the iBooks program either grabs a picture of the cover, or scans the bar code (the latter would be much easier, and this technology exists already, in the Delicious Library catalog software). It then searches the iTunes Store’s books section to find matches, and, if any are found, adds them to your library.

Of course, this is certainly unlikely, as book publishers are even more reticent to offer any such type of service than the record labels were to offer iTunes Match (though they did accept Apple’s offer, which I find surprising). But allowing users to transfer their print libraries to digital would be a big leap forward for ebooks in general, as most serious readers would have, instead of a handful of ebooks, hundreds of them, if not more.

The second possibility I see is a sort of paid lending library system. Personally, as agreeable as I find reading on my iPad, I don’t buy many ebooks, because the price, when compared to print books, is either very close, or more expensive. And this for books that I’ll read once, and never be able to do anything with (sell used, loan or give away). A paid lending library that gives you access to a certain number of books per month, for example, would solve this problem, and since you don’t actually “own” ebooks, wouldn’t change much for users. It would also guarantee a bigger revenue stream for publishers. (Amazon has free ebook loans for members of Amazon Prime, which offers free shipping, streaming videos, and a loan of one book per month. So why can’t Apple do better?)

No matter what, I find it interesting that ebooks are important enough to warrant an Apple event. Of course, this could also be a way of presenting a new iPad 3 with a retina display. While reading on the current iPad is acceptable, a retina display would make it much more comfortable.

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My Take Control of iTunes Now in the iBookstore

My latest book, Take Control of iTunes 10: The FAQ is now available in Apple’s iBookstore. You can now get it in epub format, in addition to the original PDF, and read it in iBooks more easily. (Epubs do flow more easily than PDFs when you change font sizes.)

If you’re on an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch, click this link to see the book in the iBookstore.

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Apple Updates iBooks: PDF Display Suffers

I use Apple’s iBooks on my iPad for reading epub books, and since PDF support was added, I’ve tried it out a few times. But the $0.99 GoodReader has so many more features, that I haven’t found it very useful to use iBooks for PDFs.

Apple has updated iBooks, claiming that there were improvements to PDF support. I tried a few PDFs in iBooks, and if this is improvement, Apple has become experts at newspeak. When moving from one page to another in a few PDFs, it takes about two seconds for the program to correctly render a page. At first, the text is visible but blurry, then it slowly snaps into the right display after those two seconds. GoodReader doesn’t have this problem, most likely because it pre-caches the pages so the rendering doesn’t take place when a new page is displayed.

I never really expected iBooks to be an ideal PDF reader, and it has very few of the many features that make GoodReader my tool of choice for reading PDFs. But this “downgrade” to iBooks is disappointing.

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