Publishing e-book on Apple’s iBookstore (Part 1)

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iBookstore is Apple’s platform for selling e-books and delivering them directly to Apple devices like iPhone, iPad, Mac etc. Given the kind of reach Apple devices have, getting your e-books on iBookstore is important. Thankfully, Apple provides you with a way to get on iBookstore. But their system is a little more complicated than most other publishing platforms. So, let’s start with understanding the various components of their publishing system.

Components of Apple’s Publishing System

  • iBookstore: This is where the books are sold.
  • iTunes Producer: This is a downloadable software that is used to upload the content for publishing on iBookstore. It runs only on OS X (Mac) machines.
  • iTunes Connect: This is a collection of online tools that lets you manage your books, view sales reports, and enter or modify any account or financial information.
  • iBooks Author: This is a tool to author books for iBookstore. Using this is optional. You can create your e-book files elsewhere too. Using it makes your e-book exclusive to iBookstore. Like iTunes Producer, this software also runs only on OS X (Mac) machines.

Now let’s try to answer some of the common questions you would have about publishing on iBookstore.

How does the process of publishing on Apple’s iBookstore work?

Assuming your files are ready

  1. You have to start by creating a Free or Paid Books account on iTunes Connect. Paid Books account needs to be verified by Apple and it may take some time. More information about the two types of account is available in the second part of this article.
  2. Then you need to download and install iTunes Producer. You log into it with the account created in step 1. You upload the books files, cover and metadata through iTunes Producer.
  3. Once the book has been successfully uploaded (“delivered” is Apple’s parlance), you can check its status through iTunes Connect.
  4. If there are any issues with the book, they raise a ticket which you have to resolve.
  5. Once everything is set and the book is live, you can track your sales, royalty accrued and payments made through iTunes Connect.

Do I need to have an Apple machine to be able to publish?

Unfortunately yes. iTunes Producer, which is required to upload your book to their system only works on OS X. So, you need a Mac machine to be able to use it. If you want to create your book using iBooks Author, then also you will need a Mac machine.

iTunes Connect can be accessed through any browser on any platform. This means that Mac machine is needed only while uploading the content or making changes to the book. Some metadata and information about the book can be edited from iTunes Connect itself.

What formats does Apple accept?

Apple accepts two formats

  • ibooks, and
  • EPUB

ibooks is a proprietary Apple format. To create a book in ibooks format, you can use their authoring tool called iBooks Author. These books also called a multi-touch book and the format supports various features that may not be available in EPUB. These books may not be readable of some older devices and apps, however. And the format is also exclusive to Apple.  It is a good format to use if you have certain advanced ideas about using media, which EPUB format is unable to support.

EPUB is an open format, about which you can read in our earlier post. All EPUB files submitted to iTunes Connect must pass the latest version of epubcheck. You can create EPUB using InstaScribe. It ensures that the resulting file is compliant and passes all the checks iTunes Connect puts it through.

EPUB is the recommended format, because it can be read on all the devices and the file can be used on other platforms as well.

In the next part, we will answer more queries about pricing, royalty, different types of accounts and more. Let us know if you find the information provided here useful.


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  1. Pingback: 4 Popular Platforms to Publish your E-book | InstaScribe

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