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The Apple iBookstore and You

Updated: 6/28/10

With many of our members asking: "How do I get my book into the Apple iBookstore?" we have created this page to help streamline the process of searching for the information that goes along with this new paradigm shift.

As you may already know, the new device from Apple will feature an ebook App called “iBook." This App will allow for a proprietary point of sales system through Apple’s iBookstore-much the same as Apple has sold music through it’s iTunes store.

In addition, the iPad can read any DRM-free (Digital Rights Management) epub, or PDF formatted file, as long as it is synced through iTunes 9.1 or later.

This means that you can sell your ebook directly from your Web site to iPad owners, just as long as it’s DRM-free, and they download it to their computer, not directly to their iPad.

This technical shuffle means that the most direct, and probably monetarily efficient, way to sell your ebook to iPad users will be through the Apple iBookstore.

In other words, if you want to be selling a version of your book that is copyright protected, and being read on the iPad, the best way to accomplish this is by having it listed in the iBookstore.

If you would like to publish directly with Apple, learn about the pros and cons of such a move here.The biggest downside to working direct with Apple is that specific payment thresholds have to be met before the publisher can receive a check. Additionally, Apple will not help you market your book at all, meaning there may be definite advantages to putting your book in the iBookstore through 1 of the 8 Apple approved content aggregators.

Each one has a slightly different business model, and variety of distribution options (that extend digitally beyond Apple and the iBookstore). Some are asking for a flat fee up front, others are taking a percentage after Apple’s cut of the sales. Regardless of who you choose, there are four things that will remain constant:

• Apple keeps 30% of the sales off the top

• An ISBN is required for each eBook published

• Your ebook must validate in ePub check v. 1.0.5

• Apple will have a contract with the Aggregator, not with the publisher

Most of the Apple approved content aggregators offer eBook conversion, and some, like Ingram or Lulu, are providing the service in a streamlined fashion to their current print and digital distribution clients.

Author keep 100% of proceeds after Apple’s cut (30% of sales), and is charged a one time up front fee.

Author keeps 100% of proceeds after Apple’s cut, there is a $49 up front fee, and a $19 annual fee thereafter. If needed they can convert your manuscript to the required epub format, and/or help to assign it an ISBN for $19 each, respectively.

They are the largest distributor of independent publishers in North America. Specific pricing is not listed publicly, you can contact them for pricing options.

Allows for digital publishing of content across many different platforms, while the content owner maintains control. Contact them for pricing options.

“Ingram can be the single source for publishers to store, distribute, market, and sell content in both traditional and digital formats.” Pricing is variable and is not listed publicly.

After Apple’s cut the publisher keeps 85.75% of the proceeds. Already working with some of the largest book Publishers in the world to deliver content to the iBookstore.

80% of the proceeds after Apple’s cut goes to the author. Lulu offers eBook conversion and free ISBN registration. As well as “ distribution to other retail channels in all formats (paperback, hardcover, and eBook.”

After Apple’s cut the publisher keeps 85.75% of the proceeds. They require file submission in Microsoft Word .Doc format, and offer support and advice on conversion and formatting.

The biggest difference between the 8 aggregators seems to be the pricing structures. If you have any experience with any of the above companies, please share any information you have in the comments below.

If you would like to be kept updated with any important changes to the iBook distribution puzzle you can subscribe to Scott Flora's, Executive Director blog, where we will be posting updates and information as they appear.

Some of our facts and numbers about the content aggregators came from the Publishers Lunch Daily Newsletter. The online article is no longer available to the general public, but is available to members of the Publishers Marketplace.


You need to be a member of APSS - Association of Publishers for Special Sales to add comments!

Comment by Bradley Flora on October 5, 2012 at 12:41pm

You're right Rick!

We talk about it directly in another article, which is linked on this page as:
"If you would like to publish directly with Apple, learn about the p..."

but I do agree that it should be clearly stated on this text as well.

Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

Bradley Flora

Executive Director

Comment by Rick Carufel on October 2, 2012 at 2:14pm

Theresa, your book gets rejected by smashwords because of poor formatting.  So many authors have run into this problem that I started a formatting and layout service for indy writers.  Smashwords will fail your book because of formatting errors every time.  I now publish books for writers at createspace, Lulu, smashwords and kindle.  Why pay an editor and proofer and not get your book a proper layout and formatting too?  

Comment by Rick Carufel on October 2, 2012 at 2:07pm

You fail to mention that to upload content to ibookstore you have to have proprietary software that only runs on Apple computers, so if you have a PC you will be prevented from selling in the ibookstore.  When asked about this ibookstore told me that only apple users can sell from the ibookstore. 

Comment by Bradley Flora on April 28, 2010 at 5:42pm
Here is an extensive review of both Smashwords and Lulu from Teresa M. Moore.
Comment by Joel Friedlander on April 16, 2010 at 5:31pm
Very helpful, Scott. It would be great to see a step-by-step by someone who's gone through the process with one of these companies.
Comment by M. Gail Woodard on April 16, 2010 at 2:46pm
We worked with Smashwords for the ebook version of just-released Confucius Jade (a novel set in China) by Frederick Fisher. Smashwords's documentation guide is very clear and useful for any ebook production and their customer service is friendly and helpful.

(Because we had followed Smashword's formatting instructions, our conversion to Kindle format was a breeze, by the way.)

We were delighted to be informed that, because it met the criteria for inclusion in Smashwords Premium Catalogue, Confucius Jade was automatically included in the iPad's initial catalogue of available books.

We have not experienced any ebook sales as yet, but our online marketing effort began only a week ago. Confucius Jade is available on in print and Kindle formats, and is being distributed by Smashwords to B&N, Sony and other ebook retailers.

-Gail Woodard, Dudley Court Press, Sonoita, AZ

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