Lessons Learned Publishing Our First iBook

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When apple announced the iBookstore for textbooks we were both really excited. My fiancee is a knitting pattern designer and we’ve been looking for ways to get her increased exposure. We started playing with the tool the day it launched. Today we’re live on the iBookstore. Here’s what we’ve learned:

  1. You need an ISBN to get on the store – Yikes! ISBN numbers are really expensive. The only official place to get a ISBN with your name as the publisher is ISBN.org. They cost $125. However if you search around you can purchase an ISBN from other places for much less. The only downside is that if someone looks up that ISBN it’s not going to list you (or your publishing company) as the publisher. This is not a big deal for the iBookstore.

  2. The templates are very generic in iBooks Author – We found the templates to be incredibly boring. They look like textbooks. It seems like Apple isn’t ready for other kinds of publishing just yet. I think that this is going to change. I hope that apple opens this up to all kinds of publishing (like knitted patterns)!

  3. Getting on the iBookstore is a process -  There’s a lot of paperwork that needs to get filled out, proof of identity, banking information, and then the book needs to be reviewed by Apple. None of it is hard, it’s just time consuming.  Press through it and you’ll be published in no time.

  4. Users don’t understand the defaults, yet - We put the iBook in front of friends and family. What we found is that users don’t know how the books work. For example, you can pinch to close any chapter. That takes you back to the table of contents. Also books can but don’t have to be portait and landscape.

  5. You have to design (re-design) your book for both orientation -  The iBookstore supports both landscape and portrait. However they’re different. The landscape view is for your beautiful, interactive, graphical iBook. The portrait view is for the simplified view. I think this is a great default, when users understand it.

  6.  Videos help build excitement - Not everyone has an iPad.  It’s pretty quick and easy to shoot a video using anything from an SLR to your camera phone.  Creative commons licensed music is also abundant.  We shot the video at the top of this post in about 45 minutes and then I edited it down using iMovie in about 20 more.  It’s a good investment to show your users (especially when they don’t yet understand the behavior) how your book works.

Winter’s Howl Cowl by Caroline Moore is available now on the iBookstore

Comments or Questions? Contact Nick @nixterrimus on twitter.

Nick is a software engineer, geek, web enthusaist, open source contributor, home automation tinkerer, ocean admirer and all around general optimist living in San Francisco. Want to get in touch about professional matters? Nick Rowe is also available on LinkedIn.