Apple Offers iPad Self-Publishing

On Wednesday, Apple announced that they would be offering support for individuals seeking to self-publish to the iBook Store.  MacLife has the details at http://www.maclife.com/article/news/apple_reveals_new_service_authors_sell_their_books_directly_ibookstore

In short, Apple will allow you to publish directly to the iBook Store if you meet the following criteria:

  • The eBook must have a valid and unique ISBN number;
  • The eBook must use the ePub format;
  • You must have a US Tax ID;
  • You must have a valid iTunes Store account with a credit card on file; and
  • You must have an Intel-based Mac running OS X 10.5 or later.

All in all, this sounds pretty simple.  None of these requirements are at all difficult to get.  You can buy an ISBN through a number of services, you can Storyist (like I will) to convert your manuscript into .ePub, almost everyone has an iTunes account with their credit card ready to go, and Macs are pretty much a necessity for the serious writer anyway.

Obviously, there are numerous advantages in publishing directly through Apple.  They take a smaller cut than Amazon or Smashwords, you don’t have to go through an aggregator to upload your content, and the interface (like Amazon’s Digital Text Platform) will be simple and elegant.  Does that mean that i’m going to change my business plan once again, avoid Smashwords and Lulu, and go straight through Apple?

No.

There are two reasons for this.  The first is that I don’t have a US Tax ID.  This isn’t really a problem as I’m certain that within the next year, Apple will expand to service to multiple countries including Canada.  That’s what happened with Amazon’s Digital Text Platform.  But I would prefer to publish my novel this year.  I would rather not wait if I don’t have to.

No, the second and bigger reason is a financial requirement that is being underreported in the press.  Under financial requirement from the iTunes Connect page (https://itunesconnect.apple.com/WebObjects/iTunesConnect.woa/wo/0.0.0.5.7.7.1), reads the following:

Apple does not pay partners until they meet payment requirements and earning thresholds in each territory. You should consider this before applying to work directly with Apple as you may receive payments faster by working with an Apple-approved aggregator.

So in other words, you have to sell a significant number of books in order to get paid.  Now in my case, I don’t expect to sell more than a couple of hundred copies if I’m lucky.  Of course, this makes sense for Apple.  It would be extremely difficult if their account department had to handle hundreds of thousands of business partners, most of whom would be doing business in the single digits.  However, considering that Amazon offers a similar service without any problems, it is a little disappointing.

Apple helpfully provides a link to a list of Apple-approved aggregators which you can find here.  These include the following:

  • BiblioCore
  • Book Baby
  • Constellation
  • INgrooves
  • Ingram
  • LibreDigital
  • Lulu
  • Smashwords

Now I admit, I have only heard of Lulu and Smashwords, the rest are completely new to me.  I will have to do some research into these options in order to see which service would serve me best when I launch my novel this fall.  If any of you have any thoughts or reviews about these sites, please don’t hesitate to comment.

So while Apple’s announcement is a step in the right direction, it will only serve established authors at this point.  For us little folks, we will have to go through a third party.  Here’s hoping that Apple follows Amazon’s path and makes it available to everyone.

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