Why publish on iBooks?

Edit: Please note, while this article is still valid, as of 2021 I have moved my efforts towards publishing on an independent web store.

Something that’s been of interest to me lately, is why so few of the local comics people I know publish on Apple’s iBooks store. It seems obvious to me why you would, but I can also see the reasons why you wouldn’t – it’s a single platform (Mac and iOS) reading solution, and requires that you have an American taxation registration. There’s also only one graphical tool for producing books for it, InDesign Creative Cloud, which is a $20-$30 monthly subscription cost (or $240/year). Note, Apple offers the iBooks Author application, but it doesn’t do paginated reading, or allow images to be zoomed larger than full screen.

But, if you were to look at iBooks, here’s a list of the reasons to compare against whatever solution you’re using currently:

  • Revenue Cut: The basic revenue split is 70% you, 30% to Apple. Any other comics reading / buying app that offers in-app purchasing means the app vendor is paying you out of their 70% cut of the cover price.
  • First Party Application: iBooks is already on the device, and customers can buy books within the application.
  • Price Control: Apple can never override your price to discount your book and lower the market’s expectation of the value of your work.
  • Product Control: You do all the authoring, Apple doesn’t change your files, resize your images etc. What you create and test, is what the reader gets.
  • Preview Control: You can author the preview separately to choose what it contains, and Apple adds a page with a “buy full version” button to the end.
  • Free Books Cost You Nothing: Offer your books for free, you don’t pay any fees at all. If you’re only offering free books, you don’t even need to fill in the financials and tax information.
  • Quick Approval: Apple claim that 90% of books get reviewed within 1 day. In practice I’ve found it takes about 7-10 days from submission to being on sale.
  • Copy Protection: If you want to use DRM, Apple’s solution is unobtrusive and effective. If you choose to go DRM-Free, your file is still watermarked to the buyer, so you can get an idea of where that torrented version originated.
  • Analytics: live sales and revenue data broken down by territory and exportable to spreadsheets.
  • Good Tech Support: I’ve only had positive experiences with Apple’s book developer support staff. They have an Australian freecall phone number, and the staff take ownership of issues.
  • No Multiyear Contract: You can pull your book from the store or suspend sales at any time. People who’ve already bought it will still be able to download it, but it won’t be available to anyone else.
  • No Exclusivity Requirements: you can put your book in any other store (the iBooks Author application, which isn’t really good for comics, only produces files for the iBooks store).