This isn’t a tech post. I do those once in a blue moon (I believe the last one was about Apple’s last operating system announcement) but this isn’t one.
Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, had a post yesterday about iBooks and the way it will revolutionize ebooks the same way iTunes did for music. Usually, Coker is pretty damn smart, especially in all things publishing, but I’m afraid he’s a little short sighted with his last couple posts. First, he acts like Amazon is planning to rob authors blind (not considering what else might be at play) and then he treats iBooks like it’s going to be a better marketplace for books. All the while making a pretty blatant sales pitch for Smashwords, a move I understand and appreciate since he is a business owner and entrepreneur, but maybe he should be focusing on making his site a little easier to use before he makes it out to be the next best thing for authors to Amazon and the best way into Apple.
Not the point.
His latest assessment is that iOS 8 is basically going to be the shits. He states that because it will be pre-loaded in the operating system it will make Apple a much more viable marketplace, possibly even a true contender for Almighty Amazon.
God, I hope he’s right. I want people reading. I want buying ebooks, especially my ebooks, to be as easy as possible. I’m up on Apple, ready to go (through Draft2Digital which was so, so, soooooooooo much easier to use than Smashwords), and I would love to see my sales (more like sale) increase.
Here’s the problem. Apple, they’re great innovators but God help us if they are following. Their way is the Only Way, and it’s not intuitive. The reason we think iTunes and the iPhone are so great is because they were the first to make them. I love it when people yak on about their Macs, but at the end of the day its a niche market, partly because of cost and partly because the way people were brought up using computers isn’t the way Apple thinks you should use a computer. In fact, switch to Android, you’ll see how a smartphone should run. And really, take a look at iTunes, try and search through your library or transfer music in a way that hasn’t been blessed by the Altar of the Bitten Fruit.
What made me think of this was when today, when trying to find my link to the iBookStore for Sorcerer Rising, I couldn’t find it. In fact, the only way I could find it is in iTunes. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think it’s a best practice to make your marketplace only accessible through a single program. Sure, iTunes is popular, but why not make a .com where you could purchase digital content that is automatically synced to your account? It doesn’t just apply to the web, there is still not an iTunes for Android, alienating the entire market (which is now bigger than iPhone).
I could deal with these things but at the end of the day they are symptomatic of an attitude. The Apple attitude. They don’t make these things possible, not because it’s too challenging, but because they know what you want.
And as soon as you change your mind, they will let you know.
Sometimes this attitude produces amazing results. They have invented whole industries with their innovative thinking by truly giving people things they didn’t know they wanted or needed. But they’re not flexible and they do not hold themselves bound to their customers in any way. If anything, you should just be happy they offer what they do and keep on worshiping with your doallars.
At the end of the day, this will be what makes this a lackluster affair. It might do alright, but it won’t be iTunes and it certainly won’t be Amazon, not without a shift in thinking.
And if you’re sitting there thinking Apple’s success speaks for itself, remember that for a long damn time they were a has-been. They innovated then failed to keep up with what customers wanted and lost the market. They were the hot thing and no one thought they could fail.
They were right.
It was the customer who was wrong.
And you know what, that sounds a little familiar to some other business authors are acquainted with. Apple might have heard of them too.
How’d that work out for them?