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NewsPoster Sep 26, 2013 09:37 PM
Apple adds features for authors, publishers to iBookstore
Apple on Thursday sent out an email to authors and publishers that announced a number of new features geared toward content producers in the <a href="" rel='nofollow'>iBookstore</a>. Among the changes is support for versioning, allowing readers to be automatically notified when a book they've purchased has been updated with a new version. Also included in the updates are new catalog reports, updated documentation, a rise in the pixel limit for book images and more.<br />
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The versioning change will be a boon for textbooks, technical manuals, instruction books and other instances where content or corrections are often needed. Instead of creating a new edition, books can be optionally augmented with the additional content for free. Authors are required to submit a "What's New" file, not unlike a software changelog, to accompany the notification to users.<br />
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New tutorials on how to deliver custom samples of e-books, new European toll-free numbers for support, updated documentation and an update on (US) Thanksgiving deliveries are also available. The change in pixel limits on images has gone from two million pixels maximum to 3.2 million, covering only in-book images and thus not including cover art.<br />
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Apple will be unveiling <a href="" rel='nofollow'>iBooks for Mac</a> at long last with the OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) update, which is expected to debut next month. The program is free for Mac and iOS, but is not included as built-in software on iOS devices and is instead offered as part of a bundle of free iOS software users can choose to download.
Inkling Sep 27, 2013 10:04 AM
Apple's iBooks team is doing good work despite limited staffing. Recently, they helped clear up a glitch that kept me from being able to revise one of my books. They also seem more responsive to the needs of writers than Amazon, whose attitude is "our way or the highway." For instance, Apple doesn't have convoluted rules about pricing and royalty like Amazon does. And as a writer I'm delighted that Apple lets me choose what goes into the free sample. Amazon's first part of the book sample only works with novels. I also like being able to choose sample screenshots from my iPad, although I wish they'd allow more than five.

But publishing an ebook through the iBookstore is still too technical. Authors aren't software developers and shouldn't be treated as such. The app for uploading files and data, iBooks Author, seems designed for programmers. There are too many gotchas where X can't be done until Y is done but with no explanation. (X just won't let you enter data.) Also, as I recently told them, IBA's error messages are far too cryptic. I spent about half an hour trying to get it to accept a wrong-sized cover image file before I realized the error messages were about the cover image in the ePub file and not the cover image uploaded separately. Error messages should come with plain English explanations.

To their great credit, when contacted, their team is very helpful and quick to respond. But it'd help if iBooks Author gave us fewer reasons to need their help, particularly as they get more popular. I'm a writer and not a programmer or HTML editor. It'd also be great if they and Adobe worked together so InDesign can export ePubs that turn footnotes into pop-up notes. I've got about a dozen already published print books that I could send iBooks if that were a feature.

--Michael W. Perry, author of My Nights with Leukemia: Caring for Children with Cancer
Charles Martin Sep 27, 2013 06:42 PM
Glad to hear you are working with them, I'm sure you and other authors will help make iBA a better product. Change never happens as fast as we want it but it sounds like Apple is getting there.
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