Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Self-Publish Direct to the iBookstore

Well Apple announced it's launch into the Self-Publishing arena, like we all knew they would. Apparently the announcement was billed as the Sell Your Books Initiative, which lets authors get their books into the new iBooks store without having to deal with publishers and aggregators like Smashwords and Lulu among others. However, Apple is quite restrictive when it comes to adhering to certain criteria for acceptance into the iBookstore, those being:

  1. Books need to have a 13-digit ISBN.
  2. Books need to be in ePub format, validate against epubcheck 1.0.5, and contain no unmanifested files.
  3. Authors need to have a Tax ID number and a credit card on file with Apple.
  4. But here is the big one: Authors must use a Mac running OS X 10.5 or later in order to upload the files.

Well I don't know about you, but I am certainly not going to purchase a new computer just to load books to the iBookstore directly so I can cut out the aggregator split. That just wouldn't be cost effective. I suppose one could rent time on a Mac to upload the files, but that might not be convenient for many either. Course I am speaking for us PC users here. Mac users would have it a bit easier, that is once they get their epub files to validate. For most self published authors, that will be the major hurdle to overcome. ePub files are easy to make, but they aren't easy to get past epubcheck 1.0.5. If you think you can just save your Word doc to an HTML and then run it through Calibre, you are sadly mistaken. Oh you'll get an epub file, and it will probably work on most readers, but it won't pass epubcheck without errors. You can create the epub file directly in Sigil too, or InDesign, but they won't pass without errors either, so unless you are HTML savvy and can fix the errors, going with an aggregator who can properly convert your files is still your best option.


Kristine said...

The epub file isn't even the biggest issue for me - it's the "must have credit card on file with Apple" part.

That's what keeps me from EVAH using the Apple iTunes store - sure, you can use Paypal, but only if you give them your credit card number to keep on file.

It's not easy being a Blank and functioning within today's society, but I still try whenever and wherever possible. Paranoia pays off, in the end.

duskpeterson said...

Calibre's creator has said that he will not make Calibre compatible with epubchecker, because he thinks the results actually make e-books unreadable in certain e-readers. So I'm going to have to look for another epub creator, darn it.

DED said...

Yeah, I'll stick with Smashwords.

Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

@Kristin, I don't tend to worry about the credit card on file thingie. I have a seperate card for online stuff. I have never had an issue with it.

@Dusk, I saw that too and it's a shame really because if it were reasonably priced and was compatible with epubcheck, he could be making a ton of sales to Indie authors. We are so in need of a standalone epub creator that would take the guesswork out of it for those of us who are HTML challenged. I think he is missing a real opportunity.

@DED, yes, in light of all that, I'll just stick with Smashwords until we have something that looks like Amazon's DTP platform for epub. Now I just wish Smashwords would let us upload our own formatted PDFs. I get people asking me all the time where they can buy my books in PDF, and I have to refer them to Scribd because I don't like Smashword's stripped down PDFs.