IBooks Author is Apple’s new eBook publishing application, a drag-and-drop tool that allows publishers to create interactive books without having to write code.
From Apple:Available free on the Mac App store, iBooks Author is an amazing new app that allows anyone to create beautiful Multi-Touch textbooks — and just about any other kind of book — for iPad. With galleries, video, interactive diagrams, 3D objects, and more, these books bring content to life in ways the printed page never could.
Notwithstanding the fact that books have hardly failed to bring content to life these past five centuries since the introduction of the printing press, iBooks-Author looks pretty slick. However, Apple’s latest offering comes with sticky licensing restrictions that are unprecedented in the software industry.
There is a direct relationship between the number of sales you can expect from a book distributor and the value-added services they provide to publishers and readers. Publishers are best served to ally themselves with book distributors that do the most to earn their sales commissions and inspire customer loyalty. What do they offer in exchange for their cut?
Brick and mortar retailers generally demand 50% or higher commissions from publishers and therefore offer decreasing value. The idea that book retailers should make more money than writers and publishers do for wedging a tiny piece of merchandise spine-out on a shelf full of competing products is absurd, but the state of retail bookstores tells its own story. Publishers and readers have already switched en masse to online book distributors. Some physical retailers do sell eBooks, but it’s hard to justify going to a physical bookstore to buy one when you can sample books, read reviews and purchase them online. Selling eBooks at a bookstore is like selling DVDs of a stage performance at the box office. Continue reading →
It’s the latest big deal in publishing: Big publishers are being sued; accused of using the ‘agency model,’ to keep prices of eBooks artificially high. Amazon, the world’s largest bookseller, is complying but only offering agency terms to the Big Six publishers. But in spite of all the brouhaha, independent publishers don’t need to worry themselves about it.
Certainly, Amazon has well-founded concerns that if they don’t meet the terms of their largest suppliers, they could lose the right to distribute their eBooks. Not only would that be costly, it would dilute Amazon’s strategy for the Kindle; namely having the world’s largest selection of popular, desirable eBooks.
But small publishers—especially self-publishers—operate under an entirely different set of business conditions. While the judicial system referees the conduct of the publishing industry’s big players, other market pressures are more deserving of indie publishers’ attention. Continue reading →
As a book designer, I’ve been disappointed with eBooks. The design of a book once involved careful selection of typefaces, margins, leading (line spacing) and other other fine details until the eBook powers-that-be declared that a book is simply a container for text. Don’t get me wrong; eBooks have some wonderful advantages, and they’re far from illegible, but the HTML-based ePub format used for most of them (Kindle uses a proprietary wrapper for a virtually identical set of HTML files and graphics) is the equivalent of where the world wide web was in the late 1990s.
Enter Adobe InDesign CS5.5 with good responses to several of my eBook objections. Continue reading →
Note: This book scaler is a semi-finalist entry in the 2011 Adobe Design Achievement Awards Education Category.
Flipbooks and page turning effects have been around for years; a variety of flash plug-ins, conversion services and source files have made them accessible to everyone. Though print designers have been able to export flipbooks directly from Adobe inDesign since version CS4, the tutorials and sample files here will help you get the most from the effect.
Along with a set of video instructions on how to fine-tune the InDesign export process to produce more attractive results, I’ve developed a “book scaler” in flash that allows adjustment of a book’s size relative to the screen. An “autoscale” feature fits the flipbook to a viewer’s screen when it first opens. “Page jump” buttons have been added for the front and back covers, table of contents, next and previous pages or any page number you care to type in. An invisible “drag area” in the book’s gutter/spine allows it to be manually positioned on-screen. Optional settings allow ranges of pages to be hidden from the viewer. The full source code is available to customize, but is set up so people with no coding skills can easily modify it to suit their purposes.
By popular request, full-screen capability is now available.
A good word processor is an essential writing and editing tool, but many authors struggle with expense, computer problems and software issues. Though Microsoft Word is the standard for word processing, there are excellent, free and commercial alternatives.
I do encourage you to use Microsoft Word. It’s not cheap, has an annoying tendency to try to think for you, is bloated with too many difficult-to-turn-off features and long menus with cryptic choices—but it’s the standard. It has excellent spelling and grammar check features and a suite of essential editing and annotation tools. Continue reading →