iBooks on the Mac

I have a few things I want to write up and post today, and, taken together, I think they’re going to make me look like a cranky old man. But that’s ok.

I bought a couple of Microsoft Press ebooks from O’Reilly today, since they’re having a “Farewell MS Press” 60% off sale right now, so I thought I’d snag a couple while they were cheap and still DRM-free. It looks like MS Press is moving to Pearson for distribution, starting April 1. It’s unclear as to whether or not they’ll continue to offer DRM-free ebooks, but (being a pessimistic and cranky old man), I’m guessing no.

So, after downloading them, I wanted to drag them into iTunes so I could read them on my iPad with iBooks. (That’s a lot of iProducts, huh?) Well, I hadn’t done that in a while, so, for some reason, I launched iBooks on my Mac. I don’t think I’d ever actually done that before, as I don’t really read books on the MacBook. It prompted me to import my books from iTunes, so I went ahead and did that. Now I’m cranky.

Having a dedicated app to read books on the Mac seems like a good idea. There’s no particularly good reason books should be kept in iTunes. But, after going through that import process, I’m not entirely happy with the result. iTunes kept books in a nicely-organized folder, with sub-folders by author name, and files named (sensibly) according to the book title. And (of course) if you pulled in a book with bad metadata, you could press Command-I on it in iTunes and edit the metadata.

iBooks, on the other hand, stores all the books in one folder, no sub-folders, with names that appear to be randomly-assigned GUIDs. And there’s no right-clck “View in Finder” option in iBooks, so there’s really no telling which one is which. And there’s no way to edit metadata in iBooks, so if you import a book with bad metadata, it’s quite a task to change it. (There’s some more help with that here.) Or I could switch back to iTunes, but that’s pretty darn complicated.

I’m starting to wonder if I should switch to a third-party reader app (much as I did with podcasts last week) and give up on iTunes. Almost all of the ebooks I want access to on my iPad are DRM-free ones from O’Reilly and Packt. I already have a few apps on my iPad that might do the trick, including GoodReader, the Kindle app, and OverDrive. Maybe I need to pick one that works well with DRM-free epubs or mobi files, and stick with it.

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