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Why iBooks Author is a big deal for publishers

#1 User is offline   Macworld 

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 05:31 AM

Post your comments for Why iBooks Author is a big deal for publishers here
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#2 User is offline   Luis_Alejandro 

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  Posted 20 January 2012 - 06:18 AM

When Apple talked to the labels to introduce iTunes, they said: "Apple is small, let's go."
Then, when iTunes succeded, labels "got afraid..."
Movie studios and TV producers also "got afraid..."
The same for newspapers and magazines...

But now, textbook editors took another option: "They join Apple!"

This is, in my opinion, the most important data from yesterday announcements.

One of the CEOs in the video said that digitation of textbooks is the challenge of the XXI century, and --I think-- they took the safest way: "Join Apple!"

If newspapers and magazines take the same way... maybe they could get "iNews Author" and "Magazine Author" (maybe they are just a couple of templates away!)
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#3 User is offline   ChristopherCasey 

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  Posted 20 January 2012 - 06:33 AM

I was disappointed to learn that books created with iBooks Author can only be sold in the iBookstore. I understand Apple wants to "own the channel," but lining their own pockets with the product of their users' creative output is excessively greedy.
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#4 User is offline   federoffm 

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  Posted 20 January 2012 - 06:36 AM

Forgive me, but when I saw the demo, I realized I'd seen it before. It was called HyperCard.

Working in the K12 space, I will tell you that we're not impressed. Old wine in new wineskins. The entire textbook metaphor is out of gas at this point.
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#5 User is offline   Golddragon214 

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 06:53 AM

View PostChristopherCasey, on 20 January 2012 - 06:33 AM, said:

I was disappointed to learn that books created with iBooks Author can only be sold in the iBookstore. I understand Apple wants to "own the channel," but lining their own pockets with the product of their users' creative output is excessively greedy.


Remember that the app is free, for now, and since it's free, I think being closed is the right option. Maybe later it will open up to other formats. Im sure competitors are scrambling to get something out there to make all the other people happy, just like always.
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#6 User is offline   citizenbfk 

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  Posted 20 January 2012 - 06:55 AM

I'm impressed.
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#7 User is offline   klahanas 

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  Posted 20 January 2012 - 07:01 AM

Excellent article.

There's an overarching question here, on this extremely important topic, that you touched upon. I don't know the answer to it today, but it needs to be addressed on the broadest possible level. Today, and for the forseeable future, the only medium where you can have the ability of guaranteed access to the content is print. A book always "executes". Print has a ton of drawbacks, which we all know. When I go on vacation my Nook and tablets are more liberating because I can bring more books with me and have a larger choice of reading material, without needing my own airplane.

My quandry, and I suspect your's as well, is how to ensure all of a works informational content is deliverable among devices without losing the potential benefits a device such as the iPad has to offer. It just hit me! Could it be HTML5 or some standards based variant? The plethora of file formats and mutually incompatible devices has made a mess of things. We've also perhaps become a bit too "App happy"? The web has been the greatest achievement in disseminating information ever. Wouldn't it be great if we could buy a single title and have transparent access between print and eBook? In a device independant manner?

I shudder to think that the market dominance of a single publisher, device maker, or retailer having control over educational content due to market forces. This applies to Apple, Adobe, MS, Amazon, heck, any company. It runs contrary to what the web has rightly stood for.

This post has been edited by klahanas: 20 January 2012 - 07:02 AM

"One likes to believe in the freedom of music,
But glittering prizes and endless compromises
Shatter the illusion of integrity."

-Rush
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#8 User is offline   MacTechAspen 

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  Posted 20 January 2012 - 07:06 AM

As a small publisher with a backlog of titles that we want to get into ePub format, this is a god send.

We have been working on ways to create these interactive and graphic rich titles and it was looking to be a nightmare, until yesterday. Unquestionably there are limitations to both creation and distribution, but it is still a dream come true for us.

Ok, no Kindle, but could the Kindle really utilize all the bells and whistles of this not exactly compliant ePub format anyway? What Apple has done, from our point of view, is given us an outlet for ePub the way we have invisioned it and have to been able to actualize.

Eventually we may be able to get these titles on Kindle, and if not, so be it, we use and promote iPads and are putting our money where our mouths are.

Oh, for all the bloggers and commenters complaining that Apple is just restricting sales for a piece of the pie... Give you books away free to anyone and every you want. That is your right and Apple is not standing in your way.

For today, Apple has shown they are willing to partner with us. Have a flat text based book, sell it where you want. Have a book that will only run on the iPad, Apple has an app for that.
Life, like wine, is all about balance.
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#9 User is offline   WayneJ 

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 07:11 AM

View PostLuis_Alejandro, on 20 January 2012 - 06:18 AM, said:

When Apple talked to the labels to introduce iTunes, they said: "Apple is small, let's go."
Then, when iTunes succeded, labels "got afraid..."
Movie studios and TV producers also "got afraid..."
The same for newspapers and magazines...

But now, textbook editors took another option: "They join Apple!"

This is, in my opinion, the most important data from yesterday announcements.

One of the CEOs in the video said that digitation of textbooks is the challenge of the XXI century, and --I think-- they took the safest way: "Join Apple!"

If newspapers and magazines take the same way... maybe they could get "iNews Author" and "Magazine Author" (maybe they are just a couple of templates away!)


OK, I'll bite. Tell us what is the correct amount of "greed"?
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#10 User is offline   WayneJ 

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 07:17 AM

This will work. Mostly because Apple usually gets things right and the whole textbook business is a mess. College students understand they're being ripped off (why does it cost $125 to buy and is only worth $20 when you sell it back to the bookstore?). Amazon, for sure, will mimic Apple for their Kindle products and they make millions on sales of physical textbooks. This was going to happen anyway, now there will be at least one elegant solution.
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#11 User is offline   klahanas 

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 07:19 AM

View PostWayneJ, on 20 January 2012 - 07:11 AM, said:

View PostLuis_Alejandro, on 20 January 2012 - 06:18 AM, said:

When Apple talked to the labels to introduce iTunes, they said: "Apple is small, let's go."
Then, when iTunes succeded, labels "got afraid..."
Movie studios and TV producers also "got afraid..."
The same for newspapers and magazines...

But now, textbook editors took another option: "They join Apple!"

This is, in my opinion, the most important data from yesterday announcements.

One of the CEOs in the video said that digitation of textbooks is the challenge of the XXI century, and --I think-- they took the safest way: "Join Apple!"

If newspapers and magazines take the same way... maybe they could get "iNews Author" and "Magazine Author" (maybe they are just a couple of templates away!)


OK, I'll bite. Tell us what is the correct amount of "greed"?

Even Adobe, nasty as they are, gave away the Flash player (such as it is) for free as a cross platform solution. Perhaps that could be your "minimum greediness" level. Not that it will be a good thing either, just more ebook fragmentation, but where's the iBooks App for the other platforms?

This post has been edited by klahanas: 20 January 2012 - 07:20 AM

"One likes to believe in the freedom of music,
But glittering prizes and endless compromises
Shatter the illusion of integrity."

-Rush
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#12 User is offline   ziggybop 

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 08:03 AM

Yes, I seem to recall Steve Jobs had some thoughts on Flash.

Something along the lines that Flash was the lowest common denominator, slow to keep up with all platforms and didn't allow Apple to showcase it's technologies.

So now you're asking Apple to produce an eBook authoring app to work across all platforms, take development time to code for other platform's technologies, and ignore the strength of the Apple's technologies? Just like Apple did for iPhoto, iMovie, Garageband, iWork apps and Final Cut Pro?

iBook Author's output can be exported as a PDF for any platform. If the ePub standard was expanded to include Apple's add-ons for navigation and interactive media, could any other platform adequately present it?
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#13 User is offline   Inkling 

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  Posted 20 January 2012 - 08:28 AM

iBooks Author does deal effectively with the #1 problem in digital publishing today: the lack of tools to create an ebook with formatting more complex than that of a novel. I've got about a dozen titles that must have complex formatting. I should be able to do them (finally) with IBooks Author fairly effectively. Any other approach requires a lot of hand tweaking of the ePubs or Kindle code. That I refuse to do. I've got better things to do with my time.

Looking at the app, it's obvious that iBooks Author is still a 1.0 version. For instance, someone thought it'd be "clever" to have the style menu display text as it'll look in the book with no other choice. The result is virtually unworkable, with some style choices having lettering so big, they can't be read without filling half the screen with the paragraph style pullout. What were they thinking? I don't need 48-point type to tell me that I should use a style called Chapter Heading for my chapter heading.

There's also a woeful lack of must-have features. One of the ugliest things about most ebooks are all the widows and orphans that result in screens with one or two words on them. iBooks Author needs options for widows/orphans and one for keep with next/previous paragraphs, so section heading don't come on one page while their text starts on the next. Fixing that sort of thing manually (and keeping it fixed) is a real headache.

Finally, while iBooks Author is a great move, it doesn't eliminate the tangled work flow for present-day authors and publishers. My current work flow as a small publisher is messy. The only good part is that the writing and editing is done in Scrivener. From that point on, it's a headache.

For Kindle, I simply use Sciverner's Kindle export. If Amazon wants better than that, it'll have to give me the tools. And since I can't do any complex layouts with the current setup, a lot of books simply aren't going to have Kindle versions.

For the iPad, it's now Scrivener to a Word-formatted file that (I've checked) imports into iBooks Author. The only hangup is a nasty one. Because OS X's text tools don't support style tagging (shame on Apple), the Word document that Scrivener creates isn't tagged with styles (unlike 'real' Word documents even though iBooks Author understands those tags. That means I have to apply styles in iBooks app.

For others such as B&N and Kobo, I send a Word document to Smashwords and let it worry with the details.

For print versions, I also export for Scrivener to a Word format and into InDesign, again facing the same lack of tagged styles. If you're counting, that means I'm having to apply styles twice. Not good. OS X needs tagged styles. It should have had them in Tiger.

And yeah, this evolving, convuluted workflow is a real headache, nothing like my simple print-only workflow. A typo spotted near then end has to be fixed in all these different version rather than in one source.

--Michael W. Perry, Inkling Books, Seattle
(Inkling Books was begun in 1999 and has no ties to the more recent Inkling (in a special font), the publisher of digital textbooks.)
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#14 User is offline   tbutler67 

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 08:31 AM

View PostWayneJ, on 20 January 2012 - 07:17 AM, said:

This will work. Mostly because Apple usually gets things right and the whole textbook business is a mess. College students understand they're being ripped off (why does it cost $125 to buy and is only worth $20 when you sell it back to the bookstore?).


To be fair, textbooks cost significantly more to make than general-audience books (authors should be experts in their field and their time doesn't come cheap, and there certainly ought to be a lot more editing and fact-checking on a textbook). Furthermore, the potential audience is much, much smaller, so those costs need to be spread over far fewer sales. (5,000-10,000 college students a year, considering a textbook is of interest only to students taking a particular course? Compare this to millions of readers in the general audience.) So by their very nature, textbooks are going to cost more.
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