Searching for the Moon

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

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)

One Response to “Taking up the challenge – iBooks Author some ideas”

  1. I love this article. Well written – instead of looking at all the negatives you have pointed out a way for others to take whats there and put it to good use. I have been experimenting with the program but also want to make ebooks I can sell so had been looking elsewhere as I don’t like Apples trying to totally control the market. Great way to just use whats there. Thanks

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