Today, e-book publisher Apple is launching iBooks 2, the new ebook reader device. What does iBooks 2 do? It works out of the box, of course. Once installed, the e-reader lets you quickly and easily read, download and search for anything you need to read.
There are actually multiple e-books you can download to your device (in the same format as the book you are currently reading) that will come with iBooks 2. Aside from some I absolutely need to read, the ebook reader also comes with (the Amazon Kindle folks say) two different versions of the Amazon Kindle reading software, an app called Lulu, which allows you to read any of your book choices on different devices, and a Google Chromecast-style app called Read on my Phone (Google’s ebook reader).
Alas, many children still won’t be able to get the deal. Why? Because there is no “help” in the new iBooks platform to help kids use apps to read. “We simply didn’t find the necessary ingredients that would have made the new iBooks platform a good fit for kids,” a company spokesperson explained.
Meanwhile, authors, publishers and publishers continue to lament the lack of parental controls on iBooks. “We have a few decisions to make… With this platform, we are going to err on the side of too little, but maybe too little,” wrote Damon Key (via BuzzFeed).
So let’s make some iBooks 2 movies. With it, you’ll get “Behind the Music.” With it, you’ll get “The Adventures of Tintin.” With it, you’ll get “School of Rock,” “The Karate Kid” and, when it comes to text books, you’ll get “The Odyssey.” And everything in between. There is an app that takes adult-geared books and makes them accessible for kids. Why are adults not able to access a kid’s recommendations? It’s because there is no adult-geared app.
To illustrate the issue, let’s imagine that you are buying, say, a new ebook for your older daughter (i.e., the book you’re currently reading). You have a library of titles she can read on her own, and you can see the titles it contains. You may already have all of her favorite books, but you’ll need a little help with what to cover. What am I supposed to look for? See? You already have all of the books she has, and she can read them all. Except… she can’t read some of them. So all you have to do is show her your own black and white e-book by yourself. And she can pick it out.
It is true that we shouldn’t reject many of the books our kids choose because of their age — most books are much better adapted to children than those aimed at adults. But at what point do we say that we don’t want our children using an e-reader at all?
No “help” is ever essential. Almost all of us want a swift and easy way to complete a given task, without going through a whole web of manual steps. It’s just that iBooks, we find, aren’t the best tools for building our kids’ book libraries. They just don’t work.
So now we’re going to have to figure out some software so kids, if they have something they need to read, they can do it all themselves. From the already existing YouTube app that can bring a YouTube page or another video clip straight to the iPad or Kindle or Android tablet. Whether it’s good enough for your child is a separate question.
Speaking of YouTube, it is, just like the iBooks, now easier to find the story you need when you want it. You just need to put your book on the spot. For instance, I chose an Amazon Kindle in the Barnes & Noble store and tried to find a kindle app that could pull the text, so I could search for it on the app, but all iBooks could do was to add a note to each of its tabs.
Of course, these issues are unique to the iPad, and specific to many of us, but it’s the same deal with books. Parents who aren’t tech savvy enough to put a teen through his e-book reading paces may start questioning if that iPad is the Kindle for all of us.
Related: Quirky: We Created A Home for Books