Apple & iBooks

Let me start by stating that I am a fan of Apple products.

There are those who seem to take pride in slating every breath that Apple take, that Apple is the monster set on World domination, whose actions restrict and profit from everything we do.

I just enjoy the fact that the products I buy from them certainly seem to do what they propose to do and all work together without hassle. Certainly since I switched to Mac in 2005, the time I spend with IT issues now seems limited to helping out others with their PC woes rather than my own problems. If you want to spend time making products from different companies work with each other, that’s up to you. I’m happy to possibly pay a little more and have everything work well. In fact, taking into account time spent and the longevity (and resale value) of the Apple products I’ve owned, I reckon the cost of ownership is LESS than other brands.

Now we mention the word ‘brand’, I reckon therein lies one of the issues. Many people avoid major brands in the belief that they are evil or something – the recent recall announcement by MINI is a case where some have said it’s a “PR disaster” and then doubting the quality of the product. Other lesser companies seem to get less press for potentially worse issues, like the Toyota brake scare for example. At least it will be fixed with no fuss, and owners will get a coffee and a free valet clean into the bargain!

Apple just announced the new iBooks initiative, together with iBooks Author – effectively a free desktop publishing program that allows you to easily generate electronically publishable content as if it was a word processor, desktop publishing or presentation program. In reality, it’s a combination of all of those, allowing you to include interactive diagrams, video content as well as easily manageable text content.

For the last few years, I’ve kept a few recipes in a document, initially in Microsoft Word, then Apple’s Pages and now into the iBooks Author program. Moving the text into it was simple as you’d expect then tweaking the text to make it fit well was easy.

The output works straight away on the iPad – but is also exportable as a PDF if you so require.

People are complaining about the EULA that Apple operate with this program – simply put, if you want to sell books produced by iBooks Author, then you HAVE to sell them via Apple’s iBook store, where Apple take a cut.

Well, you can choose to publish your books other ways. I wrote a book a couple of years ago and it was a major process, using Adobe InDesign, ensuring that PDF output was exactly the right format and so on. For the newbie, there were many pitfalls – apart from the fact that I am typographical design challenged, so required the help of my cousin who runs a design company to guide me on page layout. iBook Author has templates ready to go, so although your book may look like many others, at least it will be readable and easy on the eye.

So, I don’t subscribe to those who say that Apple are restricting authors, they can still choose the old ways of publishing.

Electronic distribution gives more to authors, my print book would give me about 5% of the cover price as revenue. The publisher, printer and book distributor all make their margins, most at 50%. When it’s sold electronically, the cover price is about 40% of the print price – much better for the reader, and I get about 40% of the cover price as revenue – this isn’t Apple by the way setting this level, although it is available there too. So, I sell more copies and get a larger cash amount per book.

Apple are making the route for self-publishing much easier – and, if I choose to put books through the Apple iBook store, readers will get updates automatically.

If I don’t want to charge for books, I can make them available for download where I like (as I have here).

So, if you want to see my little recipe book, it’s available here for the iPad. Also here as a PDF for other systems. I don’t claim any literary prowess for this, it’s more a simple demo of what can be done quickly with iBooks Author. Both files are output from iBooks Author, but I think you’ll agree that the user interface and readability if way better using the iBooks program – and you can add notes, highlights all for review later if you like.

The book doesn’t have any fancy animations, callouts or videos yet, but it does demonstrate the concept and has been very easy to produce.

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3 Responses to Apple & iBooks

  1. Nick Horrox says:

    From a fellow Apple fan. I think iBooks is great. As for the fact that the “product” has to be sold through the store – isn’t that exactly what iTunes did to the music industry? (whilst saving its bacon!). Makes a lot of sense to me. As a writer myself I think it’s a great initiative.

    Great blog btw. Oh and I loved your recipe book too.

    • simontaylor says:

      Thanks! Seriously thinking about republishing my Safari book, would allow me to add a lot more pictures and video as an iBook.

  2. Nick Horrox says:

    That would be cool.

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