It’s taken a while but, finally, my second Apple i-Book has hit the virtual shelves – an updated version of Travel Photography – 50 Top Tips.
It’s a selection of some of my best photographs, with insights into how they were captured and important lessons I’ve learned about travel photography over more than a decade. The book’s aim is to help photographers improve their photography by providing 50 powerful tips – with examples – which can be easily applied to their own work, regardless of what equipment they are using. It’s been popular as an e-book in a pdf format but I wanted to try Apple’s new i-Book software and expose my book to this new global market Apple’s been raving about. As you will see, the books are amazing when viewed on an i-pad (and, yes, at this point, you need to be an Apple i-pad or i-Phone user to see it).
For those thinking of publishing an i-book with Apple, here’s a few things I’ve picked up along the way:
– The i-book is incredibly simple to create; just download the free, i-book Author program (http://www.apple.com/au/ibooks-author/), drag and drop pics and text into a template and check it on your i-pad. As you’ll see, it looks fantastic; you can drop in galleries, video’s and links and the templates are stylish, graphic and they work well with photography – vastly superior to the host of e-book formats that are available (the difference in appearance is like comparing a paper novel with a few pictures inserted between paragraphs to a beautifully designed coffee table book).
– Uploading can be the hard part. Prepare to spend ages trying to get a straight answer from a host of faceless “Aggregators” who Apple will refer you to if you haven’t got an American tax file number or you don’t want the hassle of getting an ISBN number (two things you will need to get it published). Some will ignore you while the others will want to charge you, shaft you and waste your time. However, for AUD$100 a book (less if you have more books to publish but this will get you started), a company called Tablo Publishing will represent your interests, organise what’s needed and get your book up there. Prompt, efficient service, I can highly recommend them (http://www.tablo.com.au).
– You may want to experiment first. I produced another i-book called Impressions of Papua New Guinea which I produced and uploaded myself to i-books but I listed it as a free book (as opposed to one people would pay to download for which I needed the tax file number) to see if there was any interest. There was (mind you, who doesn’t want anything for free, he says). Without any real effort on my part, an average eight books a week were downloaded over three months which I could track through the Apple monitoring service. I have since taken it off the shelves and will re-upload it to a paying section later.
– Be careful to disconnect your portrait setting if you have a designed it for landscape viewing as the translation to portrait (i.e turning your i-pad vertically) – didn’t work well in my case.
– You have the option to make the book available on i-phone (though I passed, recognising I have enough trouble already trying to read a book at A4).
– You’ll need to put your marketing/design cap on to have it stand out on the shelves. There are a lot of free books in the Bookstore which you will easily get buried under if you haven’t got an eye-catching cover design or a blurb likely to “pull in the punters.” My suggestion: Check the competition, download a few samples in your area of specialty and work out what you need to do to “beat them.” You’ll also have to place a price on your work that is both competitive and provides a reasonable return on your effort.
– Access to the book will be a issue to others who aren’t with Apple (though surely this will change as cross-platform publishing solutions develop). As I wrote earlier, you will only be able to access your i-book by going through the Bookstore in Apple I-Tunes and seeing it on your i-pad or i-phone which is a shame as a download link you could send out, and people being able to read it on any device, would make life a whole lot easier. If you have an i-pad though, you’re fine. In the case of my book for example, finding is as easy as going to the i-book store through I-Tunes, entering David Kirkland into the search and you’ll see it there, ready to download.
Whether or not this proves to be a financially worthwhile exercise for photographers and authors remains to be seen but I like to keep up with new technologies so we’ll see. I’ll keep you posted.