June 23, 2015 Last Updated 9:24 am

Apple tweaks iBooks rules for publishers, submitting pre-orders without assets now allowed

Also, beginning on July 8 all eBooks submitted, even free eBooks, will now be required to include a free sample when submitted via iTunes Producer

The Apple iBooks Store team last night sent book publishing representatives an update on changes made for iBooks. The changes are minor, but might help major publishers used to long production cycles.

iBooks-smThe first change involves pre-orders. Previously, a publisher needed to submit their book materials at the same time they set up a pre-order. This meant that the publisher really could input their new book into Apple’s system until everything was finalized. While no big deal for smaller publishers, or self-publishers, it was a bit of a pain for the big guys who often set their final publication dates far out in advance.

With the change, a publisher can now submit their metadata into iTunes Producer then proceed to the pricing pane where they complete the pre-order start date and pricing information. The publisher can do this even if they don’t have their cover art finalized.

Apple cautions not to submit dummy copy at the time they set their pre-order – in other words, don’t submit an early version of the book’s cover just to have something there. Because of this, it might be a good idea to finalize the cover artwork as early as possible so as to avoid having nothing seen.

This brings up the idea that many eBook publishers have been discussing: creating simplified eBook covers. The standard approach remains to have an eBook cover that is the same as the print book (assuming there is a print version). But readers only see the cover of the book first as a very small icon, and then quickly the first time they open their new eBook. Unlike a print book, the cover of an eBook is not seen in its larger version more than a couple times (as opposed to the print book that is seen every time the reader puts it down for the evening).

Here are the instructions from Apple for submitting eBooks for pre-order without assets:

To set up a pre-order without assets:

  1. Open the latest version of iTunes Producer, available in Resources and Help.
  2. Enter the book’s metadata in the Details pane.
  3. Go to the Price pane.
  4. Fill in the Pre-Order Start Date and Sales Start Date fields, as well as the rights and pricing details.
  5. Choose Save from the File menu.
  6. Click Submit.

Another feature Apple mentions in its email is Link Maker, something I have never used myself. With the feature, you can create an iBooks Store link to a book. The code created is a bit clunky and does not work well in WordPress (it tends to disappear when you go into Visual editing mode) – but you can see it at work at right with this link to Talking Digital.

Finally, Apple says that beginning on July 8, publishers will now have to submit book samples for any multi-touch book delivered. In the past, only those with a paid books account was required to do this, and the process is pretty easy and automatic. But soon even self-publishers who only submit free eBooks will be required to submit a sample via iTunes Producer.

iBooksStore-ebooksI don’t know if the July 8 date, mentioned above, has any significance or not. It is widely expected, because Apple said so, that iOS 8.4 will be released on June 30.

Most consumers will be interested in iOS 8.4 because it will mark the launch of the new Apple Music service. But iOS 8.4 is also supposed to bring iBooks support to the iPhone for multi-touch eBooks.

Apple has not mentioned any updates for either iBooks Author or iTunes Producer, though they could come at any time. The feature I would be looking for in an iBA update is new templates that take the iPhone into account.

Another reason to expect an update is that now a publisher can preview their eBook on a Mac or iPad. The ability to preview on a Mac was added when iBA was updated to 2.0 (the 2.1 update fixed an issue with embedded fonts, 2.2 involved importing ePub and InDesign files). I assume publishers will want to see how their books look on an iPhone so allowing iBA to have this option seems a natural thing to include in an update.

(TNM Digital Media is currently working on a film book that currently is designed exclusively for the iPad, and designed in landscape. The thought is that a redesign might be appropriate once iBA eBooks begin working on the iPhone. At the very least, books designed in landscape, without a portrait option, might want to consider adding that portrait option knowing this is a more appropriate book orientation for the iPhone.)

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