iBooks Update Brings Illustrated Books, Collections, AirPrint

As we reported earlier, Apple (s aapl) today introduced new illustrated titles to the iBookstore. The titles come alongside an update for the iBooks app, which delivers enhanced support for illustrated books, a new Collections feature and the ability to print PDFs (s adbe) and notes via AirPrint.

The new Collections features allows you to organize your books and PDFs into custom, user-created categories. To get started with Collections, tap the button formerly used to switch between Books and PDFs at the top of the iBooks interface, and you can create new collections or edit ones that already exist. On the iPad, there’s a Collections button next to the one for the Store. Moving titles to collections is as easy as tapping the Edit button on the shelf where they’re currently displayed, selecting the books or PDFs you’re interested in rearranging, and tapping the Move button. PDFs and e-books can intermingle in the new categories, and your Collections automatically sync over-the-air if you have multiple iOS devices with iBooks installed.

Using AirPrint, you can now send PDF documents and any notes you’ve made in iBooks (though not e-books themselves) directly to an AirPlay-enabled HP (s hpq) printer, or to any printer if you have Printopia or another workaround in place. You can also email PDF’s and notes if you don’t have an AirPlay-compatible printer.

New, enhanced, illustrated book support will let you enjoy eye-catching art books, coffee table titles and children’s books in a way that might actually be better suited to photo-rich works than paper, since iBooks can present a vista unbroken by a traditional book’s spine.

Finally, little changes like the introduction of an automatic hyphenation option, and slight changes to the colour of the woodgrain texture in both the app icon and the shelves it uses to display e-books and PDFs show that Apple is dedicated to making the iBooks reading experience as pleasant as possible. Probably a good idea in light of new competition entering the fray.

iBooks 1.2 is live now in the App Store, but be warned that some users are reporting early bugs with this version. I haven’t had any trouble so far, but I haven’t yet done very extensive testing. Let us know how you’re finding the update (and the new features) in the comments.

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