What to expect when you are publishing on Apple iBookstore – AC de Fombelle | Guest Post

AC de Fombelle continues her popular series of posts: What to expect when you’re publishing on… 

You may have followed them from the beginning but you may also be new to this publication: this is the fourth post of the “What to expect when you are publishing” series intended to give a global light on the different book stores we partner with. I started with the “big ones”, the ones on the top of the charts when I check the “number of transaction per store”.

The idea isn’t to single out one store or the other but just: know where you are going but don’t hesitate to go everywhere.

Apple devices

The same way getting your book into the Google Play Store means getting it to every Android device on earth, getting your book into the iBook Store means getting it by default to every Apple device on earth. Note however that it doesn’t mean exactly the same thing.

First, the distribution of those devices across the earth is unevenly distributed:


Reduced to mobiles and tablets:

So, depending on the language of your book, for instance, it may be more relevant to choose one over the other (but, again, and I promise I won’t repeat this until the end of this post: why choose?)

On top of that, both on cultural and financial standards, Apple products are de luxe, which would have an influence on the kind of audience you’ll reach via their iBook Store. However, I wouldn’t necessarily judge the kind of books people read according to their background.

The reach

The iBooksStore currently offers books in 51 territories:

  • In Europe: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom
  • In North America: Canada, Mexico and the United States.
  • In Central and South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela.
  • In Asia: Japan
  • In Africa:
  • In Oceania: Australia, New Zealand

Apple will distribute your books in 51 territories, which is a lot, but also unevenly distributed around the world: with zero countries in Africa and just Japan in Asia, remember that reaching Apple iBookStore means mainly reaching readers in America (North and South) and in Europe.

If we narrow down to the American market, it’s interesting to note Apple has been on the podium of eBook sellers for years, competing with Barnes & Noble for the second place behind Amazon.

On our side Apple is indeed in the top 5 sellers worldwide but is behind Kobo and Google Play. Apple’s good place among our top 5 selling stores, even though — as you saw above — Apple devices aren’t leaders in a majority of countries may lead us to conclude that people reading eBooks are also people more inclined/better situated to own Apple devices than non-eBook readers. (You could also conclude that Apple devices are convincing more people to read eBooks, but I wouldn’t go that far personally.)

I asked through their support email if this list of countries also concerns the places people can publish from. Their answer gave me 3 things to note:

  • Anyone can publish from anywhere in the world but should take note that the books will only be distributed in the countries mentioned above.
  • They answered promptly (within 24 hours) and politely which can portend a good support team on their side
  • The email started with “Hello Anne-Catherine” while I actually didn’t sign my email with my name and it shows on mailboxes as “AC” so, either the person who answered took the time to look me up to know who I was (entirely to her credit), or some weird event happened :) anyway, that’s off topic…

Meeting the Apple Standards

Reading different authors and publishers experience with Apple, and knowing how our partnership with them goes, it sometimes feels a bit hard to get an eBook online as they have a lot of requirements on how the ebook should be made, what it look slike, what content it holds etc.

It should come at no surprise that they want to have quality content on their bookstore. It aligns well with their usual politic and, actually, is a commandable goal.

It may make things a bit hard on the publishers part and, maybe, they don’t provide the sufficient help and support for people to easily meet their standards but I still think it’s an effort worth making if it means getting into a catalog that aims to hold only good quality content.
It also gives a kind of “quality stamp” to your work.

A couple of years ago, Giacomo Giammatteo compared Amazon to Apple for the Alli Blog and stated:

Apple treats authors fairly. All authors.

There’s no question in my mind who the best retailer is. I may not sell as many books with Apple — yet — but it’s a whole lot more fun working with them. And I’d much rather work with a true partner…so I’ll be rooting for Apple to continue to gain market share and provide more competition.

Now if you want to be left alone and avoid dealing with complications while publishing your book, you could decide to avoid them completely. Or… you could just go through an aggregator! At StreetLib, we work to make your work the easiest possible, and not only we’ll help you get a good quality eBook (with StreetLib Write, or converting the file for you) that will be accepted by all stores, including those with high standards, but we also are the ones who will be dealing directly with Apple if ever there is an issue.

Which gets me to the last part of this post:

How to get there

To publish directly to Apple, you’ll need to use iTunes Connect and need an Apple ID with a valid credit card on file. And before being able to use iTunes Connect, you’ll need to submit an application to ask for the authorization to publish your content with them. It’ll be much easier if you own an Apple device. However, that’s not something to bother about if you go through StreetLib or another aggregator to reach the iBookStore.

Apple has a proprietary format (.ibooks) but also publishes the standard ePub. If you use their author platform (iBook Author, available for free on Apple’s app store) to create an ebook in .ibooks format, you’ll then only be allowed to sell it on the iBooks store but if you distribute it for free you can do so anywhere. You can also just aim for the ePub format and then be allowed to sell it anywhere you’d like.

You can find more information on what you can do when going direct with them here and here.

With us, Apple is just another partner that you can check — or not — in your book’s distribution list. Also note that we have more and more opportunities to propose to our StreetLibers (publishers and authors equally) to participate to Apple book promotions. And of course, signing up with us allows you to manage all your distribution channels in one single place.

Anne-Catherine de FombelleBIO

I’m AC de Fombelle: book lover and tech aficionado, working for the thrive of StreetLib internationally (which really means working for the thrive of books). I write, scribble, rhyme sometimes and tell stories. Here and there you will find me, publishing blog posts and always happy to converse and answer the needs of StreetLib’s community. I love cinema and am always on the move.

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