iBooks Author – Try Again?

Ibook Author and iBooks iconsLately, Apple has been acting like an anorexic supermodel. It’s not enough for the new iPhone to be thin, it has to be super thin. It’s so thin that the camera sticks out like a bone against the skin. It’s the same trend with their Macs – thin, thin, thin. I began to have a technological-existential crisis. Are Apple products and services really right for me? Am I hindering my potential by staying within Apple’s ecosystem? I decided to approach this issue scientifically.

My main gripe with Apple is not #bendgate. If I was only worried about a bendy iPhone or a camera that sticks out, I could just get a sturdy case. However, Apple’s limiting of their flagship phone to 1GB of memory and 16GB of base storage does annoy me. Why not just make the phone just a little bit bigger so that it has better specs, is more durable and make the camera aligned with the body? These design decisions makes Apple seem cheap. Yet, that’s not the real issue that’s bothering me. Surprisingly, my iPhone 4 is still good and I feel it could easily last another year.

The real problem is with iBooks. I’m disappointed with the sales of The Interactive Stencyl Textbook. I feel that the issues with iBooks Author are to blame. Not everyone has a Mac or iPad. Additionally, iBooks are not available in every country. The main feedback about the book is not that it’s good or bad – only that it’s not available to them.

However, my rational might be emotional than logical. In recent days, sales have picked up. Also, despite numerous attempts to convert the book to another format, iBooks is still the best looking version. The pixel perfect layout is solid, interactive and attractive. I think Apple has created great software. The problem isn’t technical, it’s political.

Realizing that I shouldn’t just let one setback deter me, I started wondering about my next project. Out of many different possibilities, I’ve been thinking that I should work on another book – another iBooks exclusive.

You might be wondering, “Are you crazy?!” Why would I repeat the exact same thing and expect a different outcome? It seems like insanity. Fortunately, I have learned some things. So, a second attempt should have a better outcome. Here’s what I learned…

  • Improved Listing – I forgot about the lessons learned through the App Store. iTunes is a bit of a mess, but there are tricks in getting to the top of the rankings. I missed one of the most obvious ones.
  • Target Audience – Stencyl is not just for Macs. It can run on Windows and Linux. It was risky to release an Apple exclusive book for software that is multiplatform.
  • Retina Display / HiDPI – Apple didn’t feature my Stencyl book. I was a bit surprised, as it seemed like the perfect match for iTunes. I’m not exactly sure why this happened, but I do know that Apple is fussy. I wondered if Apple didn’t feature my book because Stencyl would detract from the launch of Swift. Maybe it’s because I don’t have the marketing muscle of a big publisher. Maybe it was just bad luck, as there are lots of other books for Apple to feature. Apple does reject books and apps over the slightest things. Getting featured is even more selective. While I don’t control what Apple features, I can take away a reason for them not to do so. HiDPI screenshots would dramatically improve the quality of the book.
  • Cheaper Price – I think it’s better to sell 1,000 books at $10 than 400 books at $25. Looking at the prices of other iBooks, even the interactive ones, it seems that $24.99 was just too high. I learned a lot while working on the Stencyl book, so I should be able to complete the next book sooner.

It seems like a lot of stress to work with Apple. There are so many restrictions that can take the joy out of book/app publishing. Yet, I’m thinking about try again because of three main reasons – iBooks Author is my favorite software for creating digital books, iBooks has Digital Rights Management and I like Apple.

I’m still in the planning stages, so a new book project is not definitive yet. Right now, I’m waiting to see what Apple has planned for later this month. There’s a rumor that new Mac hardware is on the way. That’s good, as I’ll probably need to upgrade my computer in order to create HiDPI screenshots.

3 thoughts on “iBooks Author – Try Again?”

  1. Just out of curiosity, what would your next book be about?

    And I’ve always thought the same thing about iPhones and macs! If you can make them so thin then why not have a thicker model with more power and storage? :P

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