Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Beware self-publishing your books using iBooks Author

Anyone currently using iBooks Author or contemplating doing so should go read this article, "Apple’s mind-bogglingly greedy and evil license agreement”, on The Ed Bott Report on www.zdnet.com.

In short, the EULA for iBooks Author says you can’t sell manuscripts that you create in iBooks Author for anything else other than Apple (even if Apple won’t sell your book).

So, all that work you did to format your book for iBooks Author. Nope. Can’t use that file to submit to anything else.


  1. Yeah all the posts on this software all over the web this morning sounded great until you get into licensing. Too bad, Apple might have actually been able to give Amazon a run for it's money freeing up another amazing outlet to sell self published books.

  2. Not optimal...and yet how is that different from Amazon, who created their own (Kindle) format and provided a free tool to generate that format? There's no other sales channel you can sell a Kindle format book on, other than Amazon. Apple is doing it via a license agreement, whereas Amazon is doing it via a proprietary format and reader units and software that only accept content from Amazon's servers and a license agreement.

    As constricting as these moves are to authors and publishers, they're the norm, not the exception. I wouldn't be surprised if Amazon is partly behind the current hoopla over Apple's new software. Let's not fall into a habit of unwittingly wielding one channel's spear to poke at another. They're both equally complicit in such attempts to create monopolies.

    Authors and publishers still must create different formats, different files with different tools, to sell via different channels. Be warned, yes, but don't be surprised, and don't be one-sided in any condemnations. Apple ans Amazon are locked at the horns over dominance in this space, and neither one of them invented pawn-squashing policy.

    If you disagree with me--if I'm overlooking some distinction here--I'm very happy to learn something and admit my faulty viewpoint, so by all means set me straight.

  3. Anonymous, I'd like to chime in here.

    With Apple's program, you can craft an iBook, but that .iBook format can only be used in submission to Apple, unless you're listing the "Work" as free. It means, if you use the program, your only source of revenue with the resulting file would then be Apple - who may very well reject your book, negating all your work (as you cannot resubmit that file elsewhere). The only thing you CAN do is export the file as a plain text - then take it somewhere else and REformat it, which is a huge hassle.

    With Amazon, you have a myriad of options. You can format the book yourself and submit it to their free Kindle converter for personal use. You can sell the converted file. You can use easily use supplemental free programs such as Calibre to reformat them cleanly into other formats. You can sell your .azw (Amazon's proprietary format) anywhere, even your own site. You can get a .mobi converter, MobiPocket from Amazon for free to make .mobi's to sell. Those files can be converted and used anywhere.

    In short, Apple is saying, "Our program, you can only make money through us... oh and by the way we also reserve the right to reject your work, so they may actually be no money in it for you."

    While Amazon is saying, "Here is how you do it! We even made a program so you can get your book ready (it's free!). Make books! Oh, and you can list them here and we'll pay you up to 70% in royalties, dependent on your price. And as long as that specific book/story isn't listed on KDP Select, you can sell it anywhere. Kthnxbai."

    Hope that helps to clear it up. For myself, it's a huge dick move by Apple and I won't be using their program anytime soon.

  4. Well, let me try to summarize very simply:

    Apple: Use their software, and agree to only sell that edition in their store. Meanwhile use other software to create a literarily equivalent but non-Apple-SW-generated edition, and sell that in other stores.

    Amazon: Use their software and the resulting eBook edition can only be viewed by Kindle units and Kindle apps, so will only be bought from the Amazon store. Meanwhile use other software to create a literarily equivalent but non-Kindle-format edition, and sell that in other stores.

    Isn't that an accurate picture? If it is, it sure seems to me like they're both trying to achieve the same thing. But maybe my assumptions are still off?

    You said, "You can sell your .azw (Amazon's proprietary format) anywhere, even your own site." This may be technically true, but practically I think only Amazon can sync an azw file to someone's Kindle unit, right? So azw files from a practical standpoint really only move via the Amazon store. Or is that wrong?

    1. ...and I'm assuming in the above that the Apple SW can import a manuscript from a generic word processor, which would mean a writer can easily write a novel for all formats, and simply "convert" for the various sales channels, using each of their SW in turn (or using Calibre for generic ePub formats). If that's incorrect, then I see more of your point.

      I too do not intend to use their SW, btw. I don't think they've said (yet) that it's the ONLY way to get a book in their store. I think we can still create an ePub book and upload it through Producer...at least I hope so.

  5. The biggest difference between your Apple/Amazon comparison is that you won't have to reformat an Amazon file by hand like you would an exported Apple file, because they strip it down to plain text in Apple.

    For syncing, it doesn't matter what reader you use, every store only syncs it's own products/format. Apple syncs iBooks, Amazon syncs .mobi, most others sync .epub... but for pulling it off a cloud after purchase, it would be the same for any ereader.

    I'm saying to create in iBooks, you'll have to do twice the work because you'll have to format it by hand twice. If you format for Kindle, you can use a conversion software that does the work for you. Also, iBooks can only be sold on Apple, with Apple's approval (which they may withhold). .azw... or ANY other format, can be sold ANYWHERE. Yes, Amazon will only sell .mobi, but you can take that file and sell it on your personal website, or any other website. If you create an .iBook, it can ONLY be SOLD on Apple. Selling an .iBook anywhere else is a breach of EULA. It's an insidious and predatory clause that many people won't even realize they've broken until it's too late. Yes, they might realize if they read the EULA, but pragmatically, how many people do you know, do? Honestly, less than should.

    (From your second comment)
    iBooks can only be created through Apple's software. You can't import material (to my knowledge).

    I've looked into publishing on their (Apple's) store and yes, it IS almost the only way to get into their store. They have put up a myriad of barriers to writers/independent creators. Smashwords allows you to get in through their extended catalog, but I have a number of issues with Smashwords, itself. Aside from the facts of: they only accept .doc format (which then grinds into ugly, unprofessional-looking manuscripts), and their horrible AutoVetter... they are also rife with piracy and most of their extended catalog (Apple and others) requires ISBNs to be submitted.

    1. > and yes, it IS almost the only way to get into their store

      I created my ePub using Calibre and ensured it was up to Apple's standard. I submitted via iTunes Producer. It's been in the iBookstorew since March of 2011. As long as they still allow us to use our own tools to create an eBook, we can still go that route.

      The Smashwords path is a VERY lose-control-of-your-price-setting-timing path. But, you can go that route without first applying to be a formal commercial vendor to Apple...there is that advantage.

      It's always a lot of work to create a different format. It was for me, even without their new SW. In fact the Apple file prep wasn't *quite* as bad as some others (although they often make strange rulings later...for example I also submitted a short story to them, and they insisted for weeks that it had to have a TOC...until I pointed out enough times that for a short story, the TOC is the title; finally they relented).

      If I had to use this new SW of theirs, I'd write the manuscript in my favorite word processor, then create a text-only file, copy the text, and paste it into their SW, then create their edition. I certainly wouldn't create in their SW and have my work locked forever in that application.

      That's probably your point! Okay, certainly valid, and it illustrates that we have to use all these tools intelligently.

      Thanks for this dialog; I'm learning something, no question. I hope my alternative vantage point is of some value too.

    2. This article helps a lot; some of my assumptions are false. Some capabilities of their new SW are interesting though.


      It really just means more work to get around it all. More manual formatting effort. Inconvenient, but still achievable with enough strength of will. :)

    3. I'm really interested in some information on the iTunes Producer... when I looked, the only information I could find was that individual creators could not submit - you had to be part of a business or publishing house. The page I read was very clear about singular independent entities not being welcome! So for myself, I'll be looking into it... unless you're saying it's the commercial option? Ehehe... :)

      Thanks for the chat, hope I helped a little!

    4. Two problems with iTunes direct:

      1) You have to be using a Mac. I do, but not everyone does. This is the same with ibooks author though, so whatever.

      2) You have to supply an ISBN. That there is the only reason I go through Smashwords to get to Apple. I don't feel like thunking down $100 a pop for each short story I want to publish so I can have the honor of getting it on iBooks. I'll take Smashwords' free ISBN, thank you.

  6. Amazon has introducing different software and devices for the helping of people.This one is a good opportunity for the people having great work for their apps and others software.Kindle book,kindle library and software are spreading all over the area and getting positive results.

  7. > you had to be part of a business or publishing house.

    True; they have stringent standards for who they accept as product providers. They prefer enterprise entities for that. Individuals (who are usually amateurs as well) take a lot of bandwidth and Apple doesn't really accept them, by all accounts. The cost/payout ratio is very small from their perspective, and you can hardly blame them.

    In this sense, Smashwords has always been the only path for most people I think; now there is this new SW, but you can still go through Smashwords, right? At least I think so.

  8. Hey, nice site you have here! Keep up the excellent work!


  9. I think iBooks Author is an important new tool for people who feel their written work will benefit from a media-rich presentation. It's way easy to use and will be great for Mac users already familiar with Pages. It imports from Word, so you can take a manuscript in Word and import into IBooks Author. Then take advantage of the advanced, easy, media-rich features.

    Yes, for now, the ebook needs to be free or sold on the iBookstore. If you are writing fiction, I doubt it is worth it. But non-fiction eBooks will benefit greatly.

  10. But don't Books use an open standard for it's format? I think it is ePup? Please correct me but that means you should be able to sell that book in that format off your own web site.

    The only thing that comes to mind that is foggy is how would a person get that book onto their ipad... Maybe one can download it and save it to iBooks.

  11. It’s all there right in front of anyone who cares to look. iBooks Author has ushered in an entirely new genre of literature. Straight commentary at: http://www.MultiTouchFiction.com

    For those who want to see the future; and it doesn’t look pretty for Big Publishing.