Update on iBook Submission

Here’s an update to my June 5th post about submitting to the iBookstore. Pastoral Letters was finally accepted and as of today I’ve sold 13 copies, which means I’ve sold several more to iBook users than to Kindle users, and in a much shorter timeframe. So prospects are good for that title. The Way of the Cross is a different story. I’ve submitted it about 8 times now, and each time get a mysterious “import error.” I’ve written to iBookstore support a number of times, and finally got a response from a rep called Sandi who said she would look into the error and for me to check the status again on Tuesday, July 6th. As I sell a lot more of Mantle’s book than I do of the McCheyne title, prospects are good that once it goes live I could see some good sales numbers. I’m toying with whether to sell the ePub versions of both these books from the Kingsley Press web site also. People could download the files and then sync them to their iPod Touch or iPad using iTunes.

Submitting books to the iBookstore

On May 27th I read on MacNN.com that Apple were allowing smaller, independent publishers to submit their books to the iBookstore. I followed the provided link and was soon giving Apple all kinds of personal and financial information like my social security number, bank account number, and other stuff they claimed they needed in order for me to sell books on the iBookstore. I had to agree to all kinds of terms and conditions. I had to prove I was an existing publisher and submit example ISBNs.

Finally, everything was complete, and I was informed that it could take anything from several weeks to several months to be approved as an iTunes content provider. As it turned out, I waited all of five minutes, and received an email telling me I’d been accepted and that I could now sign a contract, download the iTunes Producer software, and start preparing my titles for submission to the iBookstore.

I have to say that the process of actually preparing the books for the iBookstore was fairly smooth because in the case of Pastoral Letters I already had a suitable ePUB file due to my submission to the Kindle Store. And that experience helped me greatly in preparing The Way of the Cross for iBooks.

iTunes Producer is a typical piece of Apple software. It guides you through the process of preparing your title for submission. The only problem I had at this point was that the filename for my The Way of the Cross ePUB had a period in it and this is not allowed. However, I didn’t learn this through a nice, informative error message. I just got a very vague message saying my book couldn’t be submitted and asking me if I wanted to submit an error report to Apple. Well yes, of course I did. How else was I going to know what the problem was? After submitting the error report three times (for good measure), I decided to read it, and figured out that the extra period in the filename was what it was hollering about. I took that out, resubmitted, and the book was accepted. Or was it?

Apparently not. I waited a while to see if the books would just show up in the iBookstore on my iPad. They didn’t. I logged into my iTunesConnect account and clicked on “Manage Your Books” and it said “You have no books to manage.” Really? I thought you told me I successfully submitted two titles?

Waiting still didn’t get me anywhere, so I wrote to iBookstore support. I got a very brief reply from one of their techs saying that there was a file in the ePUB archives that was not listed in the ePUB manifest. Hmmm. Well I’m sure glad the iTunes Producer told me that! Turns out that only Pastoral Letters had the offending extra file. I removed it, resubmitted the book, and it’s now showing up in my iTunesConnect account as “Pending.” The Way of the Cross is still missing in action though. I’ve written to iBookstore support twice to ask them why. So far I’ve heard nothing.

So, either the folks at Apple are having problems with the iBookstore or they are being overwhelmed with submissions now that they’ve opened it to more publishers. We’ll just have to wait and see.

eBook Progress

I’m pretty sure that when Steve Jobs announced earlier this year that Apple’s iBooks application for the (then) upcoming iPad would use the ePUB format I’d never heard of it before. eBooks I had purchased up to that time were usually in .prc or Kindle format (.mobi).

For months now whenever I have logged into my Amazon Advantage account (I sell books through Amazon.com and they keep a small inventory of each title) I’ve been reminded that I should be making all my published titles available to the multitudes of folks who are reading books on their Kindles. So I finally gave in and started looking into it. Come to find out that one of the best ways to get books onto the Kindle platform if you are using InDesign CS4 (I am) is to export the publication to ePUB first, and then use a program called Calibre to convert to .mobi, which is the Kindle’s native format.

It all sounds so easy doesn’t it. You open your book in InDesign, go to File>Export for Digital Editions, choose your export options, and click Go. Ahhhh. If only!

The first thing I learned is that you really should break the document up into separate InDesign documents for each chapter. Not trivial when you have created each of your books as one long document. Breaking them into chapters makes it easier for ebook reading devices to load the pages to be displayed. It also means that during the export, InDesign will create a table of contents that will be used by the ebook reader to provide easy navigation for your readers.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I successfully converted Pastoral Letters to Kindle format and within a few days it became available for sale on Amazon’s Kindle Store. I downloaded a free sample (first 10 pages) so I could see how it performed on the Kindle app for iPad. I quickly found some shortcomings in the formatting and made some edits and re-uploaded it. After that, I purchased my own copy. Cool.

Since then I have uploaded a second book to the Kindle Store, The Way of the Cross by J. Gregory Mantle. As of this writing it has been accepted by the review team but will not appear on the store for another 24-36 hours. I sell ten times more of these on Amazon.com than I do of Pastoral Letters, so it will be interesting to see how they sell in Kindle format.

In my next post I’ll tell about my experiences submitting books to Apple for the iBookstore.

iLove my iPad!

What’s not to like about a device that lets you surf the internet, check email, read ebooks (including Kindle books from Amazon.com), and play games; and do it all on a gorgeous touch screen that can be viewed well at almost any angle?

I guess as a publisher/distributor of books produced with paper and ink, I shouldn’t be so into the whole electronic book craze, but I am. I’ve been reading ebooks on my iPod Touch for a year and a half now with apps like eReader and the Kindle app. And the same goes for the Bible: I almost never read a paper and ink Bible any more. And the iPad just made it easier and more enjoyable than ever!

One of my favorite books of all time is A. W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God. Just the other day I downloaded a Kindle version of this book for $0.99. That’s crazy! And with the Kindle app, I can make notes and highlights. And guess what, if I make a highlight on my iPad, that highlight gets transferred to my iPod copy of the book! It also remembers where I finished reading. So if I am on page 65 when I finish reading on the iPad in the morning, if my wife picks up the iPad in the evening, I can resume reading the book on my iPod and it will take me to page 65 automatically. I don’t even have to remember where I was or put in a bookmark. I don’t know about you, but to me that’s awesome.

The iPad is also the best platform, in my view, for Bible reading and study. How else could you have a boat load of Bible translations and hundreds of reference works, commentaries, Bible dictionaries, etc. all at your fingertips on one touchscreen device? I have two Bible programs, one from Logos and one from Laridian, called PocketBible. They are both great programs in their own right. Both are “universal” apps, which means they run on iPod or iPad (when you launch the program, they detect which platform you are on and adjust accordingly).

One of the best features of the iPad is the amazing BATTERY LIFE. Apple claims the battery will last up to 10 hours. Users everywhere are reporting that this is a conservative estimate and that they actually get more than that. What’s amazing is that this applies no matter what you are doing. In other words, you still get 10 or more hours of battery life even if you watch videos or play games all day (not that I would ever try either one). I haven’t verified the battery life for my own unit because I typically don’t spent more than a couple of hours per session (usually much less).

All I can say is, get your iPad today! 🙂

Of Magic Mice and Men

My Logitech mouse starting acting up on me the other day (Logitechs have a way of doing that!), so I started thinking about replacing it and decided on the Apple Magic Mouse. UPS delivered it yesterday and I started using it immediately. But oh, what a disappointment! It’s an ergonomical nightmare, being much too shallow for my hand. The tracking leaves quite a bit to be desired. Downloading and installing the free Magic Prefs certainly helped speed things up and give more control, but at the end of the day, I found it pretty much unusable for the kind of work I do. So today, after having the thing in my possession for just over 24 hours, I packaged it up and sent it back to Amazon and ordered a Logitech Performance Mouse MX instead. I’ve read great things about it and am hoping it will be a good purchase. A three year warranty helped clinch the deal. It should be here tomorrow thanks to Amazon Prime shipping.