Apple Releases iBooks Author Starter Kit

18 May 2015

From Ink, Bits & Pixels:

Apple’s on again, off again interest in iBooks is on again as of last week. Bradley Metrock noted on LinkedIn on Friday that Apple has released a how-to book for iBooks.

iBooks Author Starter Kit is a no-frills beginner’s guide which lays out all the steps required to produce an ebook in iBooks Author. The Starter Kit walks a user through a detailed set of step-by-step activities, and provides all of the materials required to create a basic interactive book, including an iBooks Author template, images, color palette, copy decks, videos, keynote presentation, and more.

. . . .

While I think that Apple has been generally disinterested in iBooks, this book was published only days after we learned that iOS 8.4 will enable iPhones to read ebooks produced by iBooks Author.

Link to the rest at Ink, Bits & Pixels

What if printed books went by ebook rules?

9 May 2015

From OUPblog:

I love ebooks. Despite their unimaginative page design, monotonous fonts, curious approach to hyphenation, and clunky annotation utilities, they’re convenient and easy on my aging eyes. But I wish they didn’t come wrapped in legalese.

Whenever I read a book on my iPad, for example, I have tacitly agreed to the 15,000-word statement of terms and conditions for the iTunes store. It’s written by lawyers in language so dense and tedious it seems designed not to be read, except by other lawyers, and that’s odd, since these Terms of Service agreements (TOS) concern the use of books that are designed to be read.

But that’s OK, because Apple, the source of iBooks, and Amazon, with its similar Kindle Store, are not really publishers and not really booksellers. They’re “content providers” who function as third-party agents. And these agents seem to think that ebooks are not really books: Apple insists on calling them, not iBooks, but “iBooks Store Products,” and Amazon calls them, not Kindle books, but “Kindle Content.”

. . . .

[I]f you get hurt in the park while reading an iBook, don’t blame Apple—they’re simply go-betweens who provide the product but take no responsibility for it:


Conventional printed books, or “book books”—which in the old days we simply called books—don’t require a click-to-agree before reading. Imagine if Gutenberg made his readers accept these conditions from Amazon’s Kindle Store before they could read the Bibles he printed on that first printing press, back in the 1450s (readers is an archaic term for what we call end users today):

Unless specifically indicated otherwise, you may not sell, rent, lease, distribute, broadcast, sublicense, or otherwise assign any rights to the Kindle Content or any portion of it to any third party, and you may not remove or modify any proprietary notices or labels on the Kindle Content. In addition, you may not bypass, modify, defeat, or circumvent security features that protect the Kindle Content.

I mean, try plugging that into Google translate and see what comes out.

. . . .

What if that applied to “book books” as well? An analog version of Kindle’s Digital Rights Management agreement (DRM) wouldn’t let you lend your Gutenberg Bible to a friend, give it away, sell it at a garage sale, donate it to an adult literacy program, or use it to press flowers. Nor could you make it publicly available, for example, by reading it aloud during a religious service. Plus it turns out that unlike Apple, which has more money than God, Gutenberg barely made ends meet selling his Bibles, even though the few copies that survived the ravages of time are worth millions today. If Gutenberg had had the foresight to license his Bibles instead of selling them outright, his descendants and heirs would still own the rights to those first books, or as they might prefer to call them, those Analog Scriptural Piety Artifacts (aSPAs).

Link to the rest at OUPblog

Apple pushing music labels to kill free Spotify streaming ahead of Beats relaunch

8 May 2015

From The Verge:

The Department of Justice is looking closely into Apple’s business practices in relation to its upcoming music streaming service, according to multiple sources. The Verge has learned that Apple has been pushing major music labels to force streaming services like Spotify to abandon their free tiers, which will dramatically reduce the competition for Apple’s upcoming offering. DOJ officials have already interviewed high-ranking music industry executives about Apple’s business habits.

Apple has been using its considerable power in the music industry to stop the music labels from renewing Spotify’s license to stream music through its free tier. Spotify currently has 60 million listeners, but only 15 million of them are paid users.

. . . .

Apple is seemingly trying to clear a path before its streaming service launches, which is expected to debut at WWDC in June. If Apple convinces the labels to stop licensing freemium services from Spotify and YouTube, it could take out a significant portion of business from its two largest music competitors.

Link to the rest at The Verge and thanks to Paul for the tip.

E-Book Antitrust Monitor Says Apple Cooperation Has ‘Sharply Declined’

20 April 2015

From re/code:

Apple’s cooperation with a court-appointed monitor has “sharply declined” as he reviews the iPad maker’s antitrust compliance policies, the monitor wrote in a report to a judge.

Michael Bromwich, who became Apple’s monitor after it was found liable for conspiring to raise e-book prices, said in a report on Thursday that Apple objected to providing information and “inappropriately” attempted to limit his activities.

Bromwich, whose relationship with Apple has been testy since the start, had indicated that relations had improved in a report in October to U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan.

However, he said in his latest report that the company recently had taken a more “adversarial tone” in discussions.

“We have conducted no interviews since January, and Apple has rejected our recent requests for interviews,” Bromwich wrote.

Link to the rest at re/code and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

Amazon vs Apple

10 February 2015

From the Self-publishing Advice Blog of the Alliance of Independent Authors:

Everyone knows that Amazon sells more books than Apple, but it’s becoming obvious that Apple has moved past B&N into the number two position, and Apple is continuing to grow. According to iBooks Store Director Keith Moerer, addressing publishers at Digital Book World 2015, Apple’s ebook businesses is gaining 1 million new customers every week. That’s a lot of new readers.

. . . .

If you’re an author, and your books aren’t being sold through Apple, you need to rethink your strategy. Of course, that would mean you’d have to abandon Kindle Select as Amazon demands exclusivity if an author is in Select. And that brings up a question many authors ask.

Should You Be Exclusive On Amazon?

I’ve never been a big fan of Amazon’s exclusivity clause. I also haven’t been a fan of the way that Amazon treats authors in relation to how other companies treat authors.

But let’s leave exclusivity aside for the moment, and focus on…

Who Is The Best eBook Retailer For Authors?

. . . .

The answer to the question of who is the best eBook retailer is more complicated than it might appear. Amazon sells the most books. We all know that. And in an article last March regarding which eBook retailer is number two, Jeremy Greenfield from Digital Book World had this to say.

I wish I could give you a clear answer, but after nearly a month of investigation into whether Apple or Barnes & Noble is now the second-largest ebook retailer in the US, this is the best I have: It depends.
I think with developments we’ve seen in the last half of 2014, Apple has secured the number two spot, but let’s move off the sales topic and focus on other issues.

I hear a lot of complaints about Apple, most of them having to do with how difficult they are to deal with, or how strict they are about accepting material, or how you need a Mac to submit a book. All of that is true—to an extent. But none of that has much to do with the long term.

Even if it takes you two weeks to upload a book—what’s two weeks when your book will be there for years, theoretically, forever. And yes, Apple can be strict about what material they accept, but I’m convinced that’s better for indie authors in the long run. As to needing a Mac… I wish it wasn’t so, but it is. That leaves you with a few choices, the easiest of which is using a good distributor, which isn’t a bad idea anyway.

. . . .

Categories 2 3
Commission 99c–2.98 35 70
Commissions 2.99–9.99 70 70
Commissions 10+ 35 70
Commissions Int’l[1] 35 70
Coupons X
Delivery charges 15c per megabyte up to 2 Gig free
Exclusivity required for some benefits X
File types .mobi epub
Free books w/Select 5 days per quarter anytime
Free books w/o Select X anytime
Payment terms 60 days 32 days
Price matching enforced X
Pricing internationally some control complete control
Reach globally 12 territories 51 countries
Sales reporting updated every few hours daily
Scheduling promotions with Select anytime
Series manager tool X
Uploading easy need a Mac

. . . .

Delivery Charges

This is one of those things that—when first looked at—seems like nothing. But the more you analyze the cost, it becomes apparent how serious it is. (Amazon only charges you if you are in the 70% commission plan.)

My charges for normal mystery books average 10–12c per book. On a book priced at $2.99 that reduces your earnings from $2.10 to about $2.00. That represents an effective cut of about 4%. So in reality, you’re getting 66% instead of 70%.

The actual charges amount to 15c per megabyte. This could get serious if you have a 10-meg file and are selling your book for $4.99. Instead of receiving $3.50, you’d get $2.00. That’s taking your commission from 70% to 40%. A huge cut in commissions.

This is so important, I want to spend a moment on it. If you’re a typical novelist and your book is primarily text it won’t affect you much. Maybe the 3–4% I cited above; however, if you produce cookbooks, illustrated books, non-fiction books heavy with charts, tables, graphs, and images—then these delivery charges mean a lot.

Link to the rest at ALLI and thanks to Suzie for the tip.

About that Impending Amazon-Apple Digital Textbook War

1 February 2015

From Ink, Bits & Pixels:

The launch of Amazon’s new Kindle Textbook Creator a couple weeks ago has caused a flurry of speculation about what this could mean for digital textbooks.

Many have mistakenly looked at the vaguely similar uses for iBooks Author and Kindle Textbook Creator and concluded that a great textbook war is about to commence.

I don’t see that happening.

While the edtech market is going through a period of upheaval and that is affecting digital textbooks, I think it’s wrong to frame the upheaval in terms of digital textbooks.

. . . .

To start with, anyone who foresees an impending textbook was between Amazon and Apple mistakenly assumes that Apple gives a toss about content sales. As I pointed out in July 2013, Apple’s profit is in hardware, not content.

. . . .

Speaking of hardware sales, that brings me to the next point which Flavorwire missed.

Apple can’t fight, much less win, a digital textbook war because they’re already losing the hardware battle. Apple’s ebookstore is irrevocably tied to Apple hardware, which means that the digital textbooks sold there cannot be read on Windows or Android devices, or Chromebooks.

Guess which devices are outselling iPads in schools?

Windows PCs still make up the bulk of the devices going into computer labs, obviously, but for the past several quarters Chromebooks have also been outselling iPads in the 1:1 device category.

Link to the rest at Ink, Bits & Pixels

1 million new iBooks customers each week since iOS 8 launch

16 January 2015

From Gigaom:

Apple’s iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, which launched to the public this fall, come with iBooks pre-installed. That decision has paid off: iBooks has averaged one million new customers every week since mid-September.

Keith Moerer, the director of iBooks at Apple, revealed that statistic in a rare public appearance at the Digital Book World conference in New York City on Thursday. It’s startling to anyone who dismisses Apple as an also-ran in the ebook market and might encourage publishers and authors who haven’t focused on the platform to begin doing so.

. . . .

Moerer also spoke about other reasons that iBooks downloads are increasing. Since the launch of the larger-screened iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, “We are seeing more of our book sales starting to come from the phone.”

. . . .

“It’s in Apple’s DNA to support creative professionals of all types … many of whom use our hardware, many of whom use our software. That support carries over to the way we run our media business,” he said, adding:

Whether an author chooses to self-publish or work with a small or large publisher, I’m very proud that our business terms are the same. The same 30-70 split applies to a self-published author as well as an author published by the very biggest house. Because we’re not a publisher ourselves, we work very closely with publishers and we view them as partners. We view what we do as an expansion of our support of print professionals on the hardware and software side and the way we run our other media businesses.

. . . .

“One hundred percent of our merchandising is editorially focused. We accept no co-op payments, no pay for placement,” Moerer said.

. . . .

Asked if there are categories where iBooks might be outperforming other retailers, Moerer said the company sees particular strength in movie tie-ins: Apple can “leverage those customers” who come to iTunes to buy movies and music and also read.

Link to the rest at Gigaom

Apple Says App Store Sales Rose 50% in 2014

9 January 2015

From The Wall Street Journal:

Apple Inc. has a largely straightforward business model: It makes hardware, sells it at a premium, and pockets the difference. The rapid growth of its App Store is starting to change the formula.

Apple said total billings from paid apps and purchases made within apps for its mobile devices rose 50% last year, from more than $10 billion in 2013. That implies App Store sales of roughly $15 billion, making Apple’s take around $4.5 billion. Apple keeps 30 cents of every dollar that flows through the App Store.

That is still a relatively small slice of Apple’s $183 billion in annual sales. But it is growing much faster: Analysts estimate that Apple’s revenue grew 10% in 2014, according to CapitalIQ.

Moreover, the vast majority of App Store revenue flows directly to the bottom line—making it an increasingly meaningful contributor to Apple’s profits. Apple’s net income for the year ended in September 2014 totaled $39.5 billion.

. . . .

Apple said it has created—directly and indirectly—more than one million U.S. jobs. Roughly two-thirds, by Apple’s count, are developers creating programs to run on the iPhone, iPad and iPod.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)

Book Publishing Predictions for 2015

1 January 2015

From Flavorwire:

What will book publishing bring in 2015? Shrouded as the industry is behind a veil woven of billions and billions of dollars, it’s difficult to say. But if you look hard enough — at the bestseller lists, the court cases, the controversies — you can glimpse through the metaphorical keyhole and into the back rooms where the deals are made. With this in mind, here is a somewhat reliable predictor for the publishing industry in 2015.

. . . .

Next, we have the big “A” — Apple. Ever since it was sued by the government for conspiring to fix e-book prices, Apple has been forced to slow its inevitable crawl into book publishing. But in 2015 the crawl may build into a sprint. The early indication is that Apple will likely win its appeals hearing, now that the (new) judge seems to appreciate that Amazon monopsonizes 90 percent of the e-book market. My prediction here is simply that Apple will win its appeal in advance of Apple vs. Amazon: The Great Publishing War of 2016.

Speaking of Amazon: now that Simon & Schuster and Hachette have penned shadow deals with Bezos, it looks to be a fairly positive year for the “everything” Leviathan. Look for them to refine Kindle Direct, their self-publishing platform, with perhaps more “success stories” on the YA and genre fronts. And, now that we know that Simon & Schuster paid more “coop” money for “prominent display of their titles” in their deal with Amazon, it’s a reasonable assumption that, at some point in 2015, Amazon will announce design changes to its hideous marketplace.

Meanwhile, the Big 5 will continue its search for ways to circumvent Amazon. Already this month Hachette announced a short-term plan to sell select books directly through Twitter. It remains to be seen whether this venture will be successful, but it’s safe to say that the industry will likely see more partnerships between big publishers and middlemen, like Gumroad, who facilitate direct sales through social media and other platforms. Will readers buy books through social media? 2015 will likely decide.

Link to the rest at Flavorwire and thanks to Dotti for the tip.

Did Apple Fix E-Book Prices for the Greater Good?

17 December 2014

From The New Yorker:

Had you listened to the lawyers presenting oral arguments to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit between ten o’clock and eleven o’clock on Monday morning, you might have assumed that someone was suing Amazon. Much of the discussion centered on whether Amazon had a monopoly on e-book sales a couple of years ago. At one point, a judge even suggested outright that Amazon could be described as a monopolist company that engaged in predatory pricing.

But the case before the court that day wasn’t about Amazon—not directly, at least. It originated in 2012, when the Department of Justice sued Apple and five book publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster) for allegedly conspiring to raise the prices of e-books in the run-up to the launch of the iPad, in 2010. Amazon, whose Kindle e-reader had a ninety-per-cent market share for e-books before the iPad’s introduction, had been buying them at the wholesale prices set by publishers, then reselling them at retail prices (typically $9.99 per book) that were often at or even below the original wholesale price. Amazon didn’t mind losing money on each sale, as long as the strategy helped sell Kindles and expand the e-book market. But publishers believed that the low retail price of e-books eroded the public’s perception of what books are worth. They also worried that the heavily discounted e-books were hurting hardcover sales, on which they depended for much of their revenue.

. . . .

So why the discussion now of whether Amazon was a monopolist before Apple came along? According to recent case law, price-fixing schemes designated as horizontal (that is, coördinated among competitors) violate antitrust law, no matter the parties’ intentions or the effects on the market. But “vertical” price-fixing (between a retailer and a manufacturer) may not be a violation, depending on such factors as the companies’ motives and the outcomes of their actions.

Last year, a federal judge named Denise Cote found that Apple had, in fact, collaborated in a horizontal price-fixing scheme, not that it had orchestrated a vertical one. Cote noted that Apple executives kept the publishers informed about what other publishers were up to; she also pointed out that Apple made clear to the publishers that it was important for as many of them as possible sign on to the proposed deal. Both of these activities, among others, Cote argued, showed that the company had facilitated horizontal price-fixing.

. . . .

On Monday, comments from the appellate judges in New York—especially Judge Dennis Jacobs—suggested that they might be more receptive than Cote to Apple’s line of reasoning. According to Agence France-Presse, Jacobs said, “What we’re talking about is a new entrant who is breaking the hold of a market by a monopolist who is maintaining its hold by what is arguably predatory pricing.”

. . . .

According to the Associated Press, when one of the judges, Raymond J. Lohier, Jr., asked a lawyer for the Justice Department how Apple and the publishers “could have broken Amazon’s monopoly of the e-book market without violating antitrust laws,” The lawyer noted that Apple could have let the competition among companies play out naturally without pursuing explicit strategies to push prices higher—or it could have sued, or complained to the Justice Department and to federal regulatory authorities. First told me, “My view of this has always been that vigilante justice is not appropriate—it was not even appropriate in the Wild West.”

Link to the rest at The New Yorker

PG suggests that, even if Amazon was abusing its position in the ebook world (not a certain thing by a long shot because it was trying to push prices down, a good thing for consumers), the solution to monopoly power is not to create another monopoly that abuses its power – by price-fixing, which is what the Price-Fix Six did.

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