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iBooks Coming to the iPhone and iPod touch

During his keynote speech at yesterday’s Apple Worldwide Developer conference, Steve Jobs discussed the upcoming version of iBooks, Apple’s ebook-reading app. When the new version of iBooks ships later this month, we’ll be able to enjoy these new features:

  • Multi-device support: The new version of iBooks will run not only on the iPad, but also on any iOS 4 device. (I’m not certain if it will run on an iPhone or iPod touch under iPhone OS 3.)

  • Sync: If you have iBooks running on multiple devices set to use the same account, you can wirelessly sync ebooks, bookmarks, notes, and current reading position across all devices. There is no charge for iBooks syncing. (This is similar to the Kindle’s Whispersync service, which works among Kindles and various Apple devices.)

  • PDF support: Steve showed PDFs being loaded into iBooks through iTunes, and he noted that an option in the Mail app will let you save attached PDFs into iBooks. However, he did not clarify whether (or when) PDFs will be offered in the iBookstore. He did say that better PDF reading was “one of the biggest requests we’ve gotten for the iPad.” PDFs wil show on a separate shelf, accessed through a button at the top of the iBooks screen.

    Many publishers, including TidBITS, are excited about this change, because the PDF format allows us to retain “page fidelity.” Page fidelity means that we can retain the layout we created in the ebook. Page fidelity works well for anything that has a lot of graphics or tables—cookbooks, technical books, children’s books, text books, and so forth. EPUB is best for books that have a simple layout with only a few graphics or with graphics that can sit nicely on a line by themselves.

  • Notes: You’ll be able to afix virtual notes to pages in your ebooks, much like attaching a sticky note to a real-life sheet of paper.

  • Fast bookmarking: You’ll be able to tap in the upper right of the iBooks screen to bookmark a page. Also, there appears to be a few new options for working more efficiently with bookmarks and a table of contents.

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