The painful process of updating a book purchased in the iBookstore

I’ve never been interested into reading books on my iPad or iPhone for a couple reasons. First, I spend all day staring at a screen, so when I want to relax and read a book, I want to look at anything but another screen. Second, and maybe more importantly, having developed bad carpal tunnel syndrome from spending too much time on a computer, I really don’t need to make things worse by holding an iPad in my hand when I want to read.

This being said, I understand the practicality of reading books on an iPad or any eReader. You can fit many more books in an iPad than you could in the trunk of your car. Besides, this post isn’t about why I like or dislike the iBookstore. It’s about the process of updating a book purchased on it…

A couple weeks ago though, I decided to go against my health concerns and buy my first book in the iBookstore. For those interested in knowing what I purchased, I downloaded Inside Apple, by Adam Lashinsky.

In a matter of hours after I started reading the book, my carpal tunnel was killing me, reminding me why I didn’t want to read a book on my iPad in the first place. So I kind of gave up on reading this book in a digital format, and to be honest, I actually forgot about the book all together until I received an email from Apple telling me there was an update available for download.

Being able to download updates to a book is definitely a great advantage over a hard cover book. But Apple managed to make this process incredibly painful, at least in their explanation of how do it. This is a copy of the email I received from Apple:

Dear Sebastien,

Thank you for purchasing “Inside Apple”. A new version of the book is available to you at no charge.

Here is how to download the new version:

1) Tap the iBooks app on your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. If you are already in the iBookstore, tap on “Library”.

2) Tap the “Edit” button.

3) Locate “Inside Apple”, tap “Edit” and then “Delete” to delete the book.

4) Tap the “Done” button.

5) Tap the “Store” button, scroll down to the bottom of the page and sign out of your account.

6) The page will refresh. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and sign back in to your account.

7) If you are not already in the “Purchases” page, tap the “Purchases” icon at the bottom right corner of your screen.

8) Locate “Inside Apple” in your purchases and tap the “Redownload” button.

You will now have the updated version of the iBook in your library. Thank you for being a loyal Apple customer and have a great day!


iTunes Store Team

Eight steps just to tell me to delete and download the book again! To be honest, I got really confused when I first got this email, to the point that I made sure it was really coming from Apple and not from some scammer trying to phish information from me. It just seemed too bad to be true.

You could argue that Apple is intentionally being very descriptive about the iBook update process, but then why don’t they do the same with apps? Or maybe a better question would be why doesn’t Apple update books the same way they update apps? A simple notification badge and an “update” button inside the iBookstore would be much more effective in my opinion.

I tried to wrap my head around why Apple doesn’t make things easier but I couldn’t find a reason.

Maybe you will light my way and find a good reason why Apple makes this process painfully complicated when it could be beautifully simple. If so please feel free to enlighten me.