While Apple has redesigned a number of its high-profile apps and stores in recent years, one aspect of the company’s business has noticeably remained untouched: iBooks. According to a report in Bloomberg, that’s set to change as Apple is reportedly redesigning the app with a simpler interface and a new storefront, and has hired a new director to oversee the work.
Bloomberg says that the app will be renamed “Books” and will reportedly be released in the “coming months.” The interface will be simplified, highlighting books that are currently being read, along with a separate tab for audiobooks. The bookstore will also be overhauled to match the recently redesigned App Store. We’ve reached out to Apple for comment, and will update if we hear back.
The publication also notes that Apple hired Kashif Zafar in December, to head up iBooks. Zafar previously worked as the vice president of digital products for Barnes and Noble’s Nook division, before moving to Audible, where he launched the company’s podcast network, Channels.
In 2012, the Department of Justice accused Apple and several major publishers of colluding to raise ebook prices, and a federal court ruled that Apple conspired to raise the price of ebooks, and was issued a hefty $450 million fine. Since then, Apple’s bookstore and apps have largely flown under the radar, while Amazon has dominated the ebook market. The two developments could signal a renewed effort from Apple in the publishing industry.
Recently, Google announced that it was offering audiobooks through Google Play, while Audible (a company owned by Amazon) has made a significant push into the original content business with original productions, audiobook support on Kindle devices, and new digital features. Apple and Audible also parted ways last year over complaints from European publishers that Apple’s exclusive partnership with Audible was stifling competition. With its new hire and a redesigned app, Apple could be positioning itself to become a presence in the publishing world once again by providing a better reading experience for its users, but also by linking together ebooks and audiobooks under one platform.