iOS 8 wants: Comic book reading mode for iBooks

Okay, technically this is an iBooks wish rather than an iOS 8 wish but what better time to ask for something as amazing demonstrable as a comic book reading mode than when Apple's about to kick off their first Keynote of the year? And given the recent sale of comiXology to Amazon and the subsequent removal of IAP from the Comics app, when better for Apple to give their own comic book reading experience some attention?

Right now you can buy comic books and collected editions right inside iBooks, right from the iBook Store. That's something you could never do from Amazon's Kindle app, and something you can no longer do from comiXology. It's a huge advantage for Apple and for the direct sales divisions at Marvel, DC, and other publishers. However, iBooks doesn't offer a comic-specific reading mode. Like Kindle, they open what's essentially a static page and let you pan, scan, and zoom your way through it. It's okay if you're on a large screen like the iPad Air and reading a recent, super-decompresed style comic with huge panels and few words.

Try to read anything dense, either in panel grid or word balloon, and you're left to gesture like your falling from a building and your web shooter just ran out. And that's a stark contrast to the magic comiXology's engine pulls off.

I realize building a great user interaction model for comic book reading is non trivial, and no doubt getting all the existing material into a format — and dealing with the publishers involved — makes non trivial look downright easy peasy, but wouldn't it be fantastic?

Anyone and everyone alienated by the changes to comiXology could just switch over to iBooks.

Of course, the cherry on any WWDC iBooks announcement would be a new, update version of iBooks Author that includes support for the iPhone. That and, you know, enabling all of iTunes, including iBooks and the App Store, to support international gifting. I can gift stuff from Amazon Canada to my U.S. friends, but not iTunes, and that makes all of us sad.

What? That's why they call it wishing, right?

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • How would comic book reading mode work? Posted via the Android iMore App!
  • The easy way is just to point at comiXology's mode and duplicate that, although I think there are probably other takes that could work as well. Even something as "simple" as smart panel detection, so you could zoom in, and then move from panel to panel staying zoomed in, could work.
  • While I agree I'd love to see Apple give more attention to comics, I think the ideal solution would be a standalone comics app like the podcast app. Break it out from iBooks.
  • Can Apple duplicate comiXology's reading mode without the threat of lawsuits though?
  • Cool! Sent from the iMore App
  • Having a comic mode in the iBooks app would encourage me to buy comics there instead of the native publisher's app. If they have competitive pricing & ability to have subscriptions; I would use iBooks exclusively. I have been able to buy DC comics in the their app since the Comixology buy out. So only smaller publishers with out their own app would have problems. I know Image & Marvel have their own app.
  • "That's why they call it wishing, right?"
    We'll know in about a week. My biggest iOS 8 wishes are: 1. EasyPay in stores other than just Apple Stores. Sure, you can wave your iPhone at the barcode scanner to buy junk food (and junk coffee) at Starbucks. But I want to be able to point the "iPhone 6" camera at the barcode of any item at, say, the Nike Store at Union Square in SF, buy the item through my iTunes account, and walk out of the store without getting tackled. In other words, I'd like Apple to offer the EasyPay security and inventory management system to general retailers. 2. iOS password management system. Now that there's a TouchID sensor and "secure enclave" for storing fingerprint data in iPhone 5S (and presumably all future iPhones and iPads), maybe it's time to disrupt the whole horrible password management system as we know it. iOS could handle the automatic generation, encryption, storage, decryption, and application of all passwords. Tap the TouchID sensor to log in to,, etc. in Safari. Tap the TouchID sensor to create a new password for each of your email accounts handled via the Mail app. Tap the TouchID sensor to log in to the Fandango, Amazon, etc. apps on your iOS device. No more god damned password apps. I think Apple can and will leverage their TouchID and "secure enclave" technologies.
    Looking forward to it.
  • How about a golf-swing camera mode in the photos app ala Samsung? Come on...this is pretty niche. Let's think big: better inter-app communication, split screen apps, things like that.
  • I appreciate your point, but the Comixology guided view is patented and at least from my standpoint, I'm already too invested over at Comixology to change now.
  • iBooks is really really bad for reading comics. That's why I don't buy any comics for iBooks anymore. I'm wondering how is their comic sales on iBooks? It's very annoying to read a comic in iBooks.
  • +1 for international gifting. Sent from the iMore App
  • Hi guys, I am again at the same place, and reading this post, it is also a pleasurable article, so stick with it.