iBooks: A Saga in Publishing
Back in January, Apple announced the release of a new application for OS X, iBooks Author. iBooks Author is intended to be used as a conduit to allow anybody, whether they are an independent author, an established author, or even a school district to publish their books in the Apple iBooks store.
Apple did a press conference n New York City to show off iBooks and all that it could do. This is not anything out of the ordinary for Apple. When it was all said and done, the price of the fabulous application, Free.
I didn’t really have a use case for iBooks, until I started writing my OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion Client and Server review. I figured, along with doing a version for the web, I should do an iBooks version too. I figured it would give me practice with the application as well as another outlet for allowing people to purchase my review.
I submitted an iBooks version of my OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion Client and Server review to Apple back on July 16th. This went smoothly and within a few hours it was available for Pre-order with release on July 25th, the rumored date for Mountain Lion’s release.
Being naturally curious, and a data nut, I checked on my pre-orders throughout the remaining 11 days. I did receive a few pre-orders over the next few days. I went to go and look at pre-orders on July 22nd and noticed that I had not received any pre-orders in the past few days. I attributed this to nobody really noticing it.
Fast forward to July 25th. I checked on pre-orders for July 24th, knowing that there would have to be at least a couple more since Mountain Lion was to be released the next day. To my surprise, I did not have a single one.
Everything for iBooks is managed through Apple’s iTunes Connect website. I logged in to see what could be the issue. It was simple, it was removed from all 32 iBooks stores.
The part that bothered me was that under reason, it was ‘unknown’. Naturally, I contact Apple’s iBooks support through the Contact option. I received the immediate notification acknowledging that I contacted them. I knew I would probably have to wait a couple days for a reply.
So, I waited, and waited, and waited. Finally, today, July 30th, 2012, I received a reply. A full five days after I submitted the issue I receive a response. Granted, they did tell me why it was not on the stores. At 5:50 tonight I fixed the issue, and submitted it to Apple. By 7:45 my review was back in the store. I will give kudos to Apple for being quite responsive.
There is an application that is used to submit your iBooks to the store, iTunes Producer. With iTunes Producer you create a package that is then submitted to Apple for items to be sold in the iTunes Store.
Specifically for iBooks, there is information like the ISBN, Title, Author, description, the actual book and rights and pricing that must be filled in, before you can submit the item.
One of the required items, for iBooks, is a sample that readers can get for free to preview the book before they actually purchase the title. Here is where my issue arose. At not point throughout the submission process did state, ‘Hey, dummy, you don’t have a preview, this won’t go on sale without it.’.
I am not going to hold Apple entirely at fault, as it was my fault for not reading the iBooks user guide. I will hold Apple responsible for not providing sufficient feedback within iTunesConnect and iTunes Producer, regarding why my review was removed from the store.
Apple has previous experience dealing with individuals that submit items to their store. This experience is with developers, of which there are considerably more. I would expect Apple to take their knowledge, in providing feedback to developers and translate that knowledge to their new ventures, like iBooks.
Providing instant feedback as to where the trouble with a submission lies, before it is sent, would go a long way towards reducing the number of problem submissions faced by Apple’s iBooks team.
It may be a different audience that is submitting an iBook versus an application, but these rules can apply to both groups.
I have a couple of tips. They are quick, and simple. The first, read the guides provided in iTunes connect, they will be tremendously helpful in telling you what you need to do to get your iBook contact on the store, with as little issue as possible.
The second tip, is that you will need an ISBN, if you plan to sell your iBook. You can buy an ISBN for roughly $125, or less if you buy in bulk, from ISBN.org.
iBooks, despite my issues with it, is a pretty good way to get your books published. Yes, it will cost a bit to purchase an ISBN, but there are other places to get them as well, for a bit cheaper. I cannot stress enough to read the documentation. My failure to do so, resulted in lost sales. A loss in sales is not something that anybody wants, myself included.
If you are so inclined, you can purchase my OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion Client and Server review from the iBook store.