Apple iBooks Author & media rich books

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geoff3h

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Hi,

I'm just wondering if anyone in this group has had experience of releasing their book on the Apple iBooks platform?

We are thinking of going this way as we want to create an immersive experience for readers with active links, but would love to hear if you've done this, regretted it, loved it, or were disappointed by it. Any pearls of wisdom to share?

Thanks.

Geoff
 

Jason

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Done it and regretted in almost unilaterally. I don’t know it if was how the iBook was done, but the download was huge, there were lots of online databases it referenced (so wouldn’t work on a plane), and the swiping was not really as fluid as on my Kindle.

Not worth the color graphics, the “interactive” and “immersive” experience imho.

I suppose it could have been the producer, but was not a fan.
 
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Denevius

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Hellbound Books has an iBook app. It seems to work pretty well. I’m not sure how immersive it is, however. You can go to their site and take a look at it to see if it’s similar to what you’re thinking of.
 
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lizmonster

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Are you all talking anout iBooks Author (or whatever it's called now)? Because I use iBooks to read regular epubs, and I don't have issues with those. I did read an Author book when they were first introduced, and had the same kinds of performance issues Jason reported.
 
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You can do really super things with iBooks author.

You've got to know what you're doing, and understand the digital costs and the benefits to the reader.

And you've got to do some user testing.

I'm going to move this to Self-Publishing: Print, Audio, Digital, Papyrus or Clay where more people will see it.
 
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cool pop

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I have books on Apple Books. I go through Draft 2 Digital because I don't have a Mac.
 

geoff3h

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Thank you.

Was this a good experience for you? What about advertising it? Did they help in any way with formatting? They probably have certain standards for you to have the book formatted in a particular way, much they do if you use iTunes to sell or rent your film, I guess? Perhaps I should ask how easy is it for people to find your book? Is the site a good one for readers to find your work?

Sorry, that’s a lot of questions. I’m just looking for pitfalls and also advantages for immersive storytelling.

Best,
Geoff
 

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Yup, I think I am, lizmonster.

Do your books have interactive links for a more immersive reader experience? Did that cause you any problems that you could share with me please?
 

geoff3h

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Hi Jason,

Thanks for providing me with a cautionary tale! When you say it was referencing online databases, were these included in the book or were they just linkages to the databases?

Apologies if this is a dumb question.

Best,
Geoff
 

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Not a dumb question at all - they were linked to an API
 

cool pop

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Thank you.

Was this a good experience for you? What about advertising it? Did they help in any way with formatting? They probably have certain standards for you to have the book formatted in a particular way, much they do if you use iTunes to sell or rent your film, I guess? Perhaps I should ask how easy is it for people to find your book? Is the site a good one for readers to find your work?

Sorry, that’s a lot of questions. I’m just looking for pitfalls and also advantages for immersive storytelling.

Best,
Geoff


Apple is just a retailer. Unless you get picked to participate in advertisements then you won't get any. Also, you have to be direct with them to even have access to advertising. YOU have to advertise and promote your own books anyway you can.

No, Apple does not format your book or do anything for you. YOU have to do all this yourself or hire someone to do it.

It's not easy to for anyone to find your book anywhere if you're not promoting it. You have to promote and it's harder getting visibility on Apple than say Amazon so it takes patience. Most authors try to get Bookbub Feature deals or run ads to promote their books.

The site is good for readers but once again unless you lead them to your books or they know about them, they won't find them.

Good luck!

- - - Updated - - -

Yup, I think I am, lizmonster.

Do your books have interactive links for a more immersive reader experience? Did that cause you any problems that you could share with me please?

About links, you can't have links in Apple books that lead to other retailers, etc. You can have them that lead to your website or social media pages but no retailer allows links to other retailers in books.
 
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Apple is just a retailer. Unless you get picked to participate in advertisements then you won't get any. Also, you have to be direct with them to even have access to advertising. YOU have to advertise and promote your own books anyway you can.

No, Apple does not format your book or do anything for you. YOU have to do all this yourself or hire someone to do it.

It's not easy to for anyone to find your book anywhere if you're not promoting it. You have to promote and it's harder getting visibility on Apple than say Amazon so it takes patience. Most authors try to get Bookbub Feature deals or run ads to promote their books.

The media rich books made with iBooks Author are only readable/usable on iOS. There is no other retailer for them.

They're in some ways closer to apps than to ebooks.
 

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I admit I am confused by this thread. The OP started out speaking about Apple Books so I was speaking generally about putting books on Apple. Please disregard what I said if I got it wrong.

As for the media rich books, never heard of them. I'm not an Apple person at all. Never bought one Apple product in my life. Way too expensive IMO. I considered buying a Mac but they are so expensive and a friend who has one told me I wasn't missing anything so I ditched that idea.

Except for publishing books on Apple, never had any dealings with them as a customer.
 
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I researched iBooks Author some time back & agree with everything said about it above. Too, you have to have a Mac to use it; there is no PC or Linux version.

To widen the topic, you can create media-rich content for general platforms on general platforms. The best-known tools are available through Amazon for the Kindle platform. When I looked at them they seemed capable but somewhat crude to use; they may have improved since I last looked about a year ago. (At Boeing one of my jobs was to evaluate software usability and capability, so I have a certain prejudice that colors my views. I'm very critical, maybe too much so.)

You don't have to own a Kindle ereader to view Amazon ebooks. The several emulators for the PC are quite good. So if you do create media-rich Amazon ebooks you are not limited to Amazon hardware.

If you want to create such ebooks be honest with yourself. Do you have the skills to not only produce the text, but the images and videos that would go into them? To do a job that won't shame you, you must be an artist with not only text, but the audiovisual arts.

Maybe you think you can avoid all the work that would go into creating original content by just linking to someone else's work, say on YouTube. The problem is that such content may go away at any time, or go to a different URL.

I'm sure our future holds more media-rich ebooks. Maybe you'll be one of the pioneers at making them popular. Good luck with that.
 

geoff3h

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Hi, cool pop.

Yes, we thought as much, re linking to other retailers, but we decided a while ago to limit links to Apple products and our own websites and blogs. So that seems to have been a wise decision.

Thanks for your help.

Best,
Geoff

- - - Updated - - -

I’m glad my publisher is also a UX designer. One to pass over to him, methinks!
 

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I researched iBooks Author some time back & agree with everything said about it above. Too, you have to have a Mac to use it; there is no PC or Linux version.

To widen the topic, you can create media-rich content for general platforms on general platforms. The best-known tools are available through Amazon for the Kindle platform. When I looked at them they seemed capable but somewhat crude to use; they may have improved since I last looked about a year ago. (At Boeing one of my jobs was to evaluate software usability and capability, so I have a certain prejudice that colors my views. I'm very critical, maybe too much so.)

Laer the Kindle tools are not at all in any way comparable to what you can do with iBooks author. The other options require a fairly sophisticated programmer and designer production team.

The titles produced with iBooks author are best thought of as apps; they are comparable to the multimedia titles produced by high-end production companies like Voyager. They can contain other apps within them, interactive widgets, as well as media of various sorts.

But as you say, it requires expertise in several areas; I've only produced media rich titles with access to designers and a/v creatives.
 
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geoff3h

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I’m happy to say that my publisher is a UX designer and I don’t have to worry too much about the development of this, but as a writer I think I need to know what the possibilities and limitations are, so that it informs my writing process.

We are looking at immersive storytelling and initially our Editor was against that, as he said that there is a contract between you and the reader to maintain the world you’ve created and that clicking on links breaks that contract, as you take them out of that storyworld. However, I like to think that such immersive processes take us deeper INTO the story and not out of it.

In terms of product testing, how extensive should that be, before the iBook is released on the unsuspecting world?

Cheers,
Geoff
 

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In terms of product testing, how extensive should that be, before the iBook is released on the unsuspecting world?

If you're talking about basic functionality - that's really a software development question. Ideally, you'd test the book on every hardware and software platform on which it'll be available. In reality, you acquire stats about the platforms it's most likely to be run on (the latest iOS version, for example), and allocate resources accordingly.

If you're talking about readers to evaluate the effectiveness your immersive experience - I don't know. That's sort of a beta reader thing, although a bit different. I'd probably want at least 6 unrelated people to give it a try, but I don't know how easy it would be to find such people.
 

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I’m happy to say that my publisher is a UX designer and I don’t have to worry too much about the development of this, but as a writer I think I need to know what the possibilities and limitations are, so that it informs my writing process.

We are looking at immersive storytelling and initially our Editor was against that, as he said that there is a contract between you and the reader to maintain the world you’ve created and that clicking on links breaks that contract, as you take them out of that storyworld. However, I like to think that such immersive processes take us deeper INTO the story and not out of it.

In terms of product testing, how extensive should that be, before the iBook is released on the unsuspecting world?

Cheers,
Geoff

Very. You need to test on various versions of iOS; at least iOS 11 and 12, and depending on what features you use in iBooks Author, it would be best to support iOS 10.

You need to test on multiple iPhones and iPads; screen size will make a difference.

If you're going to support voice over, you need to test for accessibility.

And you'll need to do iterative testing; if you fix or change something, test again.
 

VeryBigBeard

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We are looking at immersive storytelling and initially our Editor was against that, as he said that there is a contract between you and the reader to maintain the world you’ve created and that clicking on links breaks that contract, as you take them out of that storyworld. However, I like to think that such immersive processes take us deeper INTO the story and not out of it.

Just my opinion, but good linking enhances my experience of a story. I see it best used in online journalism (including with multimedia) where links allow, say, a documentary film to be extensively sourced. You see it a lot in museum apps, too.

For uses within a specific story, interactive fiction does this well. Tools like Twine and Ren'Py are bit more niche, but allow the user to control the flow of text on the page using some pretty basic CSS and javascript. Some of them are not that far off what it sounds like you're trying to do (as far as I can tell).

Speaking from a games perspective, a lot of the immersiveness of the experience comes down to how the story both excites and involves the reader. So really not that far off old-fashioned good writing: pacing, tension, conflict. But you can use the links to let your user move deeper into different aspects the story you're creating, even take on a degree of agency in what subjects/sources/scenes she reads. Giving up that level of control takes a lot of trust, but can really pay off.

This sounds like an interesting idea, and I know a couple people who have released e-books this way and found it a useful way to let an audience explore a (sometimes niche) subject. Sadly, I can't really give you any opinions on iBooks, but looks like others can.
 

geoff3h

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You can do really super things with iBooks author.

You've got to know what you're doing, and understand the digital costs and the benefits to the reader.

And you've got to do some user testing.

I'm going to move this to Self-Publishing: Print, Audio, Digital, Papyrus or Clay where more people will see it.
 

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