Apple’s iBooks Store – Worth The Effort

Stylized iBooks iconsA posting from October of 2014 (iBooks Author – Try Again?) showed that I was struggling with Apple’s iBooks Store. I wasn’t sure what to do with it. My book sales were underwhelming. Should I just give up or should I keep trying? Ultimately, I decided that I would keep trying. I looked at my past mistakes, which were listed in the article, and then I tried to learn from it. The end result was success. For a few days in December of 2015, A Book About Hype was the #1 “Computer & Internet” book on iTunes.

A Book About Hype – #1 in Computers and Internet (iTunes)

That technically makes me a best selling author. What an honor! (The “Computers & Internet” category is harder to climb than just the “Internet” category.) Yet, while being first is great, this isn’t news. In the “A New Book, A Good Start” article, it was clear that the hard work was being rewarded. So, what’s different now?

Despite the success, there were some problems with iTunes. I wasn’t sure if the iBooks Store was truly helping sales. Potential customers were experiencing frustrating issues. I looked at FastSpring and started to wonder if I even needed Apple. FastSpring takes a much smaller commission. FastSpring supports more countries. Also, with the matter of Japanese Consumption Tax, I felt that FastSpring did a better job.

As your eCommerce provider, we assume the obligations to comply with these taxation requirements and appropriately address the mandated changes on your behalf, reducing the burden to your company.

With FastSpring, I trust the support. Not only do they do a great job, they make me feel important. Sometimes, when working with Apple / iTunes, I felt that the support was lacking. Even though I was a top author, I certainly didn’t feel important.

So, I decided to experiment. I stopped marketing “A Book About Hype” on iTunes. Instead, I started sending traffic to FastSpring. I even did an impromptu Pi Day sale. (Reducing the book’s sale price – by exactly $3.14 – was simply not possible with iTunes.) With all of the amazing features, and the change of marketing direction, I figured that FastSpring would easily win out.

Today, I decided to look at the orders from the past 30 days. Surprisingly, iTunes sales outnumbered FastSpring sales with a nearly 2:1 ratio. In other words, iTunes sales were almost double the FastSpring sales.

This suggests that there is merit to Apple’s marketing power. They charge a higher commission, but they seem to be earning it. This data also suggests that selling digital files on iTunes is not a lottery – it’s a competition. By using skill and determination, success can be found. A lot of research and effort went into making a best selling book. Apple rewards winners.

The Apple / FastSpring combo is strong. The two companies compliment each other. This is the same approach that Tumult uses with the Hype app. Great minds think alike.

Why is this important? Once again, I find myself struggling to choose my next big project. But after seeing the FastSpring vs Apple data, a solution emerged. My book became successful by learning from past mistakes. Shouldn’t the same be true for my game projects? Shouldn’t I use the same approach with the iTunes App Store? It’s something that I’ve been thinking about. Maybe, I should get back in the business of making games.