Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Archive for January, 2012

Taking up the challenge – iBooks Author some ideas

Posted by shannonclark on January 20, 2012

Taking up the challenge – iBooks Author – some ideas

So there is a lot of huff & puff at the moment across the Internet about the EULA for the new Apple iBooks Author software which they released early this week. The software itself is getting mostly rave reviews for making the process of building a solid, good looking, engaging, modern multimedia eBook and especially a electronic textbook designed for tablets, really easy and open to far more people.But at the price of agreeing to only “sell” the resulting ebooks in the Apple iBooks application (so only for the iPad and other iOS applications since at least currently iBooks does not have a version for the MacOS).

However the EULA also allows for the FREE distribution of those books in any way you want – it just requires that commercial use be limited to via Apple (and subject to a separate agreement with Apple – i.e. they will pick and choose which books they distribute).

So below a few ideas which people should explore – whatever your feelings about the EULA. (and if you refuse to sign it – don’t forget that you can just not use the iBooks Creator and just write your book via more traditional tools – though this may require that you work with someone with the right (and often expensive) software and the skills to lay out the text, images etc. And building an immersive application or electronic version is yet another skill set).

1. Use iBooks Author to layout PUBLIC DOMAIN resources (see for one) adding layout, public domain illustrations – or CC licensed works with the right licenses and credits. Then make these works available (for FREE) via Apple’s iBooks app. But also make the files available outside of that app (and perhaps explore whether Apple’s HTML5 output can be converted to another eBook format and/or rendered inside of a standards compliant HTML5 aware browser as a webpage.

2. Use iBooks Author to create updated textbooks for use by online educational offerings such as Khan Academy ( perhaps even including the appropriate videos from Khan Academy inside of your work. Again make these available for FREE – submitted to Apple for the iBooks store but also via downloads and if conversion is possible in other apps as well as perhaps as HTML5 webpages.

3. Leverage the fact that iBooks Author is a FREE application and use it to create a new form of globally collaborated upon book. Perhaps use a service such as Dropbox to share you files with co-authors across the Globe and use the free software to collaborate on writing an authoritative work on a subject upon which you and your collaborators are experts. Here if you like sell this (limited to the Apple iBooks store and possibly subject to agreements between the co-authors about the distribution of income etc) but also consider making these works FREE – and both submit them to the iBooks store but also make them available in other apps and online.

You might as “why go through all of the effort to make an iBook only to give it away?”

Consider two scenarios.

Scenario 1

You and your co-authors are talking with a prospective client. They want to see how you work and what you think about. You suggest that they go to your website, fill out a request form and download one of your “White Papers”. A 64+ page, text (and limited black & white illustrations) PDF file. They do so but barely can keep their eyes open past page 3, don’t have easy access to a printer (since they are on the road and working from their laptop) and you don’t hear back from them.

Scenario 2

You and your co-authors are talking with a prospective client. You send them an iTunes Gift which is of your book (should work whether or not the book is free). They open up iBooks, download the book and are greeted with an interactive and highly modern textbook on your area of expertise. It opens with videos of you (and your co-authors) and the text is in modern fonts and in full color with illustrations. The client reads your textbook on their next plane flight and when they land send over a contract.

Yes, “white papers” aren’t always dry and dull but these days if you are going to be giving away your content to sell your services (the model of countless consultancies) why not take a look at iBooks Creator as a possible tool to integrate content types and as a way of creating a more compelling and actionable content.

And if you are thinking about selling that content then sure you could sell it on your website (lots of tools for that) but if you have to spend the time (and money) but mostly time managing an ecommerce website you have to sell a great number of white papers. Sure 30% adds up (and if you as I might recommend sell your book not for $9.99 but for 10-40x of that amount) the percentage is all that more meaningful. But in the end if you just gave the book away you likely will make more from a single consulting project than you will from the book.

If not your consulting rates and project scope is vastly too low

Okay if you are +Tim Ferriss consider disregarding this advice (Tim’s third “4-hour” book The 4-Hour Chef (see
is now available for pre-order on Amazon – and he’s almost certainly on his way to yet another NYTimes Bestseller. But even Tim might have some non-NYTimes bestseller content that might make a good free book – compilations of blog posts + videos from his blog or video series with +Kevin Rose for example might be one idea. Go see his FOUNDATION video interview when you have some time)But for the rest of us non-NYTimes bestselling authors Apple has just given us a fantastic tool. A tool to help possibly spread education and a tool which savvy professionals may use to stand out from a sea of similar consultants.

(originally posted to my Google+ stream)

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I’m thinking about pushing the “reset” button…

Posted by shannonclark on January 3, 2012

I’m thinking about pushing the “reset” button on most of my media consumption and rebuilding all of it this month.That means:

1) not renewing any print magazine subscriptions & deciding on a case by case basis was print publications to subscribe to for 2012. I’d like to have 3-5 magazines a month – considering The Atlantic Monthly, Monocle and possibly a few others – what would you suggest? (serious news, politics, tech or non-serious games, rpgs, science fiction or fantasy are all options)

2) unsubscribing from the 300-400+ blogs I currently get via Google Reader and adding back just the ones I actually miss not reading. I’d like to ADD a lot of ones I don’t currently read – especially looking for good, unique perspectives on Business – technology & non-tech with a strong focus on design and innovation. But equally I want to read some great political blogs, some great gaming (not just video games but also paper RPG’s and boardgames) blogs, some blogs on writing – especially science fiction, and some “geek” blogs. As well as the still active blogs of friends of mine

3) Unsubscribing from many of the podcasts I currently subscribe to (especially the ones that have remained mostly unlistened to for many months). I’ll keep a few of the gaming podcasts that I keep up with, the comics podcasts I listen to but would like to add some great (but focused) tech podcasts (audio preferred to video) and possibly some political or general interest/geek podcasts?

4) unsubscribing from still more email lists – especially the ones that have remained mostly unread and/or which I rarely engage with these days. I’d also like to add a few new ones IF I can identify really interesting & active communities (and/or exceptionally currated content sources)

5) Picking a few online communities to really engage deeply with this year. I’ve never “gotten” Reddit but folks I really respect love it deeply. Clearly there is something worthwhile happening there. Equally I haven’t “gotten” into either LiveJournal or Tumblr and both might be worth really engaging with in 2012.

6) Creating my own content. Starting with posts here in Google+ but also writing on my personal blog(s) and soon our new corporate blog (more on that in a few days) but not ending there. I’d like to write more guest posts for other media outlets, write some articles perhaps for magazines or other publications and by the end of 2012 I’d like to have at least one book if not published then in the works.

Suggestions for great content I should consider adding to my media diet in 2012 are welcome – especially if you know me well and have some unique suggestions…


What changes are you planning for 2012?

Posted in Entrepreneurship, geeks, personal | 5 Comments »

Looking back on 2011 and forward to 2012

Posted by shannonclark on January 1, 2012

2011 ends in just minutes as I write this and it has been a year of highs and lows, perhaps too many lows. In any case I am looking forward to 2012, the first full year of marriage for me – I was married this past Fall – that’s definitely a major highlight of my year. But as well there have been some major lows – sudden deaths, professional disappointments (both my own and those of close friends) all in all 2011 has been a rough year and one that can’t end too soon.

Every year however I look back on the last year and forward to the next and wonder what I will be doing this time next year, what will have happened in the year to come and what will seem so common by the end of year that I can’t even quite imagine as the year begins.

Last year at New Years Eve I would not have guessed that this year I would end the year a married man, sitting at home watching local tv with my wife – very very happily doing so. The new year will start with a day of home chores – laundry and house cleaning and then the week begins with work.

A few years ago I spent New Years Eve at a friend’s house – at the time I was single – there was a tradition in that household (I think) where you wrote down one word that would be your theme (and goal) for the year to come. My word that year was “companionship”.

In 2011 I more than got that and I enter 2012 with the best companion in the world – my wife.

I love you Usha.

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