Mavericks preview: iBooks

Available for iOS since the iPad was introduced in 2010, iBooks is finally coming to the Mac with OS X Mavericks. iBooks for Mac sports some features that will make it a winner especially for students with Macs.

Apple's ebook reader software, iBooks, was first introduced when the iPad debuted in April 2010 and later became available for other iOS devices with iOS 4's release. It's never been essential software - Apple offers it as an optional free download from the App Store rather than including it with every shipping iOS device - but it's an obvious killer app, especially for the iPad. And now, with OS X Mavericks, we'll finally get it for the Mac.

Here's what Apple has to say about iBooks for Mavericks:

Now the books you’ve already downloaded on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch will automatically appear in iBooks on your Mac. And there are over 1.8 million more in the iBooks Store, ready for you to download with just a few clicks. Reading books is every bit as intuitive as it is on an iOS device — turn pages with a swipe, zoom in on images with a pinch, or scroll from cover to cover.

All of the features you're already familiar with from iBooks are present: you can search, you can bookmark pages, adjust font and type size, even switch page color from white to sepia or to night mode, which inverts the color scheme to white type on black pages (less intrusive if you're lying in bed next to someone who's trying to sleep). There's also a scrolling function if you'd prefer not to have to manually flip pages using the mouse, trackpad or keyboard.

WWDC 2013 keynote iBooks preview

So far, iBooks in Mavericks sounds identical to its iOS equivalent, but there are some important differences that will make it a great tool for students and researchers. You can have multiple books open simultaneously, for example. Need to compare or contrast source material from two different textbooks? No problem.

Mavericks' iBooks lets you highlight passages and attach notes - a feature you can find in the iOS version too - but rather than burying the notes as popups that run in the margin of the book, a Notes pane that runs along one side of the page. This makes it much easier to refer to notes you've added or attached as parts of highlighted sections.

WWDC 2013 keynote iBooks notes

iBooks will also sync with its iOS counterpart, so any books you purchase from your Mac (or your iOS device) will appear on other devices. And you're able to import PDFs and ePub books, just as you can with the iOS version.

iBooks for Mavericks is a very welcome - and some would say overdue - addition to OS X. It provides all the functionality of iBooks we've come to expect since its debut in 2010, and smartly extends its capability to make better use of the Mac, complementing what's already there in iOS. Check out more resources below, and let me know what you think - is iBooks in Mavericks what you were expecting, or were you hoping for more? Or is it so overdue that you don't care anymore?