(Mainz) In the wake of Apple’s important and much-anticipated announcement yesterday of iBooks 2 comes some sharp criticism from the printing shop of Johannes Gutenberg, where it is being claimed that Apple’s new etext interface has copied many innovative features first introduced there.
“I can’t say I’m entirely surprised,” said Peter Schöffer, Gutenberg’s spokesman and CFO, “The Scheißerei at Apple have been trying to buy out our patents for 2 years now.”
Schöffer expressed particular concern over Apple’s new “page finding” feature, which allows users to go directly to a given page in the digital book simply by entering a “page number.” “Look at this!” Schöffer fumes, “When a user interfaces with one of our printed books, all he needs to do to find a particular page is flip through the leaves! No clicks, no entering numbers: if you can count, you can find it! They copied us, but they did it badly.”
The CFO also expressed anger at another feature of iBooks 2, the ability to “bookmark” particular pages for quick and easy later reference. “You’ve been able to do that with our books for years!” snorts Schöffer as he demonstrates by turning down a corner of a paper page, closing the book, and then reopening it again instantly to the marked page. “No clickety-click needed!” he notes.
Schöffer was not entirely dismissive of iBook 2 innovations however. “That index thingy they have – we may want to introduce that feature to our own books eventually too,” he chortles mischievously.
Apple is being fairly quiet about the allegations coming from Mainz, but Apple SVP Phil Schiller did have this to say when we contacted him: “I think it’s inaccurate to say that we ‘stole’ these features from Gutenberg. I mean, “pages” – well, manuscript codices have had those forever. I think it’s more accurate to say that we broke into the scriptorium late one night, only to find that the place had already been burgled by Gutenberg.”
Schöffer was less forthcoming about rumours that the Gutenberg press is looking to sue Apple for patent infringement over their “iBook Author” tool. “Well, we’ll see. Our lawyers are still looking into that one,” says Schöffer, patting the wooden-framed handpress standing beside him.