Apple rolled out a self-publishing tool yesterday for indie authors and companies to publish their own books and list them in the iBooks store. There are been some confusion and questions regarding the semantics of their payment structure and exclusivity and we seek to dispel most queries.
Apple takes a 30% cut for each sale as per its normal tactics when an app or book is sold through their iTunes ecosystem. Authors have the ability to set their own prices with a threshold limit of $14.99 and do have the option to publish free books. If you write a book you have the option of offering a sample with a paid offering but if the book is free there is no sample option.
Books are created using Apples new iBooks Author App program that is an exclusive to the MAC operating system. This means you need a MAC BOOK PRO or AIR to get going making your own books. The Author Program is actually fairly intutive and very easy to use. You can drag and drop Keynote slides that you create or even import your own MS Word document right into it. You can start with one of the Apple-designed templates that feature a wide variety of page layouts. Add your own text and images with drag-and-drop ease. Use Multi-Touch widgets to include interactive photo galleries, movies, Keynote presentations, 3D objects, and more. Preview your book on your iPad at any time. Then submit your finished work to the iBookstore with a few simple steps. And before you know it, you’re a published author.
When you publish your book you have three major options to save your book, PDF, Text or iBook. If you publish it with PDF of Text you can distribute it to other stores. If you decide to go ahead and publish your works into the iBooks ecosystem you are stuck with dealing with Apple. You cannot resell your book you created with the Author Tools to Amazon or Barnes and Noble. The reason for this is Apple uses a derivative of EPUB that is incompatible with other devices and is only viewable via the iBooks application. This is mainly attributed to a fair number of enhanced elements like video, audio, 3D and dynamic content. It is this reason that so many companies release their magazine, book or kids book as a standalone app.
Many people are heralding the new Author Tools by Apple as being a breath of fresh air with its easy to use creation tools. Many other companies like Kindle Direct Publishing and PUBIT do not really have great tools to make your book. They merely give you a preview of how it would look on your e-reader. I am fairly happy Apple developed a fairly easy tool-set to use because it will now prompt other companies to develop their own answer. I would really like to see an online HTML5 based ebook creation suite that is dead simple to use and can export your finished product into a multitude of formats.