E-Books that originate in newsrooms are an increasingly common phenomenon. The Washington Post and POLITICO, to name two publishers, have both gotten into that business lately, and have had success with porting their work to the longform platform.
Apple’s recent introduction of iBooks 2 and iBooks Author brings the ability for much smaller newsrooms with limited budgets to create and sell e-books for iOS devices. And these are not just any e-books: these are interactive e-books that gives you the ability to embed videos, photo galleries, quizzes and interactive images.
Apple made a conscious decision to make the iBooks Author software free. They could have gone with the business model they currently have for iOS app development, where developers have to pay a fee to give them the rights and tools to develop for the devices. But they clearly want as many content creators as possible using the tools. And, importantly, they made the software consumer-oriented. It’s user interface resembles Apple’s iWork suite of tools, and creating an iBook is a point-and-click experience.
So the potential is great here. It’s not an overnight process, as there is an application process required to be able to sell iBooks. An ISBN number is required, which costs $125 for a single title. But it’s still a cheaper and simpler process than going through an agent or aggregator to do this. And with anything sold through the iTunes platform, Apple takes a cut of the revenue.
And, of course, your audience will be restricted to those who own the iOS devices, which run the platform-exclusive iBooks 2 app (which, of course, is the only app that can display the interactive features). But, it’s a start, and perfect for newsrooms with limited budgets and experience in e-book publishing.