Apple Makes Some Major eBook Announcements: iBooks 2, iBooks Author, iTunes U
A couple of weeks ago we heard rumblings about an eBook-related media event that Apple planned to host in New York City. The rumors indicated it would be about self-publishing and digital textbooks--and those rumors were true.
Apple just announced iBooks Author, a free app that's available in the Mac Store and will (supposedly) make self-publishing dead simple. Here's the description:
Now anyone can create stunning iBooks textbooks, cookbooks, history books, picture books, and more for iPad... Start with one of the Apple-designed templates that feature a wide variety of page layouts. Add your own text and images with drag-and-drop ease. Use Multi-Touch widgets to include interactive photo galleries, movies, Keynote presentations, 3D objects, and more... Then submit your finished work to the iBookstore with a few simple steps. And before you know it, you’re a published author.
While the focus of this app seems to be on textbooks and interactive books, I don't see any reason why someone couldn't self-publish a novel with it.
I can't speak to how well the app works, or how easy it is to upload to iBooks, or what the pricing scheme will be like. But this is clearly a shot across the bow at Amazon, currently the most popular destination for self-published authors.
As of now, authors have to go through third parties like Smashwords to get listed in iBooks. By streamlining the process, Apple is making a play for the self-pubbing crowd. And while uploading an eBook to the Kindle store isn't terribly complicated, it's also not as simple as a dedicated, one-stop app. If this is embraced by the novel-writing community, I wouldn't be surprised if Amazon responds to this with their own app, or some mechanism to make self-publishing easier.
In addition, Apple announced two major education initiatives. The first is partnerships with Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt--the three companies responsible for 90 percent of textbook sales in the United States. Together they'll create interactive and affordable textbooks for the iPad. This is possible thanks to iBooks 2, an updated version of the company's eBook app, currently available as an upgrade.
The initial focus is on high school textbooks, and they'll be priced at $14.99 or less. They can be updated by the author, as well as make the learning experience more interactive.
Apple also announced an iTunes U app, which will let teachers come up with a curriculum, teach, assign homework, and communicate with students, all through the iPad.
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