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Apple updates iBookstore for authors with enhanced versioning, larger in-book images

post #1 of 10
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In an email sent out to authors and publishers on Thursday, Apple announced a number of new features recently added to the iBookstore, including versioning support and increased pixel limits for book images.

iBookstore


According to a copy of the email provided to AppleInsider by reader Gregg, Apple added eight significant backend enhancements to the iBooks Store on iTunes. While the new features may not be immediately visible to the end user, they will make for an easier and richer shopping experience once implemented by content providers.

Apple notes the addition of the following features and updates:
  • New Catalog Reports
  • Versioning for All Books
  • Updated Documentation
  • Pixel Limit Increased for Book Images
  • How-To: Deliver Custom Samples
  • New European Toll-Free Numbers
  • iBooks Author Tips and Tricks: Creating Custom Samples
  • Thanksgiving Deliveries

Of note, versioning for all books looks to be one of the most substantial upgrades as it will automatically customers to be notified when a new version of a book is available for download. Authors need to submit the new version along with a "What's New in Version" description for the notification to be pushed out to users.

As for the pixel limit increase, Apple notes that the size limit for in-book images has been increased from 2 million to 3.2 million pixels. This does not include cover art, screenshots, or other images not included in the ebook file.

In addition, Apple has updated all iBooks documentation and examples, including best practices for creating iOS and OS X book with JavaScript interactivity and other performance optimization suggestions. iBooks will launch on Mac for the first time with the upcoming OS X Mavericks, which is slated for release later this fall.

Apple's iBooks iOS app was most recently updated on Sept. 18 and can be downloaded from the App Store for free.
post #2 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

As for the pixel limit increase, Apple notes that the size limit for in-book images has been increased from 2 million to 3.2 million pixels.

Alas, not 5Mpx for the rMBP then.
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post #3 of 10
Yes, images in iBookstore ebooks can now be up to 3.2 meg in size. They actually slipped in the change a few weeks ago. This just makes it official. That's great. But the last time I checked, images in Kindle ebooks still have to be under a pitiful 127K, which only 4% as large.

My latest book is about caring for children with cancer. Each chapter open with a photo, typically a stock photo of a hospitalized child to get across that the children I'm writing about are real children. The photos vary from 300K to 900K, so Apple had no problem with any of them and the results look marvelous. I was so delighted by this book, I went back and added pictures to my previous hospital book.

Unfortunately, to satisfy the file-size scrooges at Amazon, in the file I sent them I had to squeeze those images down terribly. The jpeg compression inside InDesign had to go from a respectable 8 or 9 to a gosh-awful 3. With some pictures, even that wasn't enough. I had to crop them terribly, and I hated that. Those pictures of cute kids add a lot to the book.

To add insult to injury, Apple doesn't charge download fees for their ebooks even though they're typically larger. Amazon does charge and at highway robber rates. On a typical book that's 30-40 cents that no other retailer charges.

I realize that Amazon sometimes has to pay cellular download fees, but that's the result of a business decision they made several years ago. It's none of my doing or of any other author. It's not fair to stick us with paying for their bad choices or to make us pay through the nose for WiFi downloads that cost Amazon virtually nothing. Where is the DOJ when they might actually do some good?

Those who'd like to see the difference these file size limits make can download the free samples from Apple and Amazon. Keep in mind, though, that the iBookstore images don't even come close to the limits Apple has set. With iBooks, pictures can be larger and look even better than those I used.

This means that iBooks should be a great platform of high end art and travel photo books, with this recent change making it even better. And perhaps the competition will force Amazon to change their rules.

--Michael W. Perry, My Nights with Leukemia: Caring for Children with Cancer.
post #4 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Inkling View Post

[^ post]

Wow. Did know Apple always shines with these kind of issues. Didn't know Amazon was this lame with bandwidth. Guess we get what we paid for. EDIT: wait, Amazon, what? $6, while Apple asks $3? How come?

For simplicity's sake:
https://itunes.apple.com/book/my-nights-with-leukemia/id690916827?l=en&mt=11

Props to you sir.
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post #5 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Inkling View Post

Yes, images in iBookstore ebooks can now be up to 3.2 meg in size. They actually slipped in the change a few weeks ago. This just makes it official. That's great. But the last time I checked, images in Kindle ebooks still have to be under a pitiful 127K, which only 4% as large.

My latest book is about caring for children with cancer. Each chapter open with a photo, typically a stock photo of a hospitalized child to get across that the children I'm writing about are real children. The photos vary from 300K to 900K, so Apple had no problem with any of them and the results look marvelous. I was so delighted by this book, I went back and added pictures to my previous hospital book.

Unfortunately, to satisfy the file-size scrooges at Amazon, in the file I sent them I had to squeeze those images down terribly. The jpeg compression inside InDesign had to go from a respectable 8 or 9 to a gosh-awful 3. With some pictures, even that wasn't enough. I had to crop them terribly, and I hated that. Those pictures of cute kids add a lot to the book.

To add insult to injury, Apple doesn't charge download fees for their ebooks even though they're typically larger. Amazon does charge and at highway robber rates. On a typical book that's 30-40 cents that no other retailer charges.

I realize that Amazon sometimes has to pay cellular download fees, but that's the result of a business decision they made several years ago. It's none of my doing or of any other author. It's not fair to stick us with paying for their bad choices or to make us pay through the nose for WiFi downloads that cost Amazon virtually nothing. Where is the DOJ when they might actually do some good?

Those who'd like to see the difference these file size limits make can download the free samples from Apple and Amazon. Keep in mind, though, that the iBookstore images don't even come close to the limits Apple has set. With iBooks, pictures can be larger and look even better than those I used.

This means that iBooks should be a great platform of high end art and travel photo books, with this recent change making it even better. And perhaps the competition will force Amazon to change their rules.

--Michael W. Perry, My Nights with Leukemia: Caring for Children with Cancer.

I think your point is a little strong about download fees.  If a cellular-equipped Kindle downloads the ebook over Wi-Fi there is no fee.  Also - Kindle owners pay no monthly fee for Kindle cellular access, therefore they only pay when they use it, so I'm not sure how that's a bad thing.  

 

As for image sizes, you can always go with the alternative format that the graphic novel authors are using.  They allow for very large image sizes, with the trade off that some files are not readable on all Kindles.  The link below is an example - the download file size of 54MB is due to the image sizes.  This ebook specifically lists most of the Kindle models for compatibility, including the plain Kindle, Keyboard, Paperwhite, and Touch models, so you're really not losing much.  From the publishing guidelines:

3.6.2 Image Guideline #2: KindleGen Performs Automatic Image Conversions
    The limitation on the image size depends upon the book’s format:
    • Reflowable books (fiction and non-fiction): 127 KB maximum
    • Fixed-layout books (other than comics): 256 KB maximum
    • Comic books: 800 KB maximum

 

http://www.amazon.com/Entertainment-Essential-Graphic-Chronology-ebook/dp/B00CYXOU5C/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1380246983&sr=1-1&keywords=graphic+novels

 

I have not read this, but maybe it could help you get better images out to your Kindle readers:

http://www.amazon.com/Pictures-Kindle-Publishing-Formatting-ebook/dp/B00CYPKEN2/ref=pd_rhf_dp_s_cp_2_TRKA?ie=UTF8&refRID=1WJ0M6Y24ASHT7XE8GN1


Edited by runbuh - 9/26/13 at 7:33pm
post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post


Wow. Did know Apple always shines with these kind of issues. Didn't know Amazon was this lame with bandwidth. Guess we get what we paid for. EDIT: wait, Amazon, what? $6, while Apple asks $3? How come?

For simplicity's sake:
https://itunes.apple.com/book/my-nights-with-leukemia/id690916827?l=en&mt=11

Props to you sir.

 

Kindle edition is also $2.99.

http://www.amazon.com/My-Nights-Leukemia-Children-ebook/dp/B00EOVP15A/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1380248041&sr=8-1&keywords=My+Nights+with+Leukemia

post #7 of 10

Great, the new pixel limit slightly exceeds Retina iPads. Also rMBP for two side-by-side pages.

post #8 of 10
I'm happy they are finally bringing iBooks to the mac. I've never actually bought an iBook, but that's because I don't like reading long stuff on my iPhone and I don't yet have an iPad. Nice to see they will support even higher resolution images now.
post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by runbuh View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Inkling View Post

..........
Unfortunately, to satisfy the file-size scrooges at Amazon, in the file I sent them I had to squeeze those images down terribly. The jpeg compression inside InDesign had to go from a respectable 8 or 9 to a gosh-awful 3. With some pictures, even that wasn't enough. I had to crop them terribly, and I hated that. Those pictures of cute kids add a lot to the book.

.........
I realize that Amazon sometimes has to pay cellular download fees, but that's the result of a business decision they made several years ago. It's none of my doing or of any other author. It's not fair to stick us with paying for their bad choices or to make us pay through the nose for WiFi downloads that cost Amazon virtually nothing. Where is the DOJ when they might actually do some good?

.............
This means that iBooks should be a great platform of high end art and travel photo books, with this recent change making it even better. And perhaps the competition will force Amazon to change their rules.

--Michael W. Perry, My Nights with Leukemia: Caring for Children with Cancer.
I think your point is a little strong about download fees.  If a cellular-equipped Kindle downloads the ebook over Wi-Fi there is no fee.  Also - Kindle owners pay no monthly fee for Kindle cellular access, therefore they only pay when they use it, so I'm not sure how that's a bad thing.  

As for image sizes, you can always go with the alternative format that the graphic novel authors are using.  
.......

I have not read this, but maybe it could help you get better images out to your Kindle readers:
.............

Did you actually read Mr Perry's comment?

Then, you would understand that "I realize that Amazon sometimes has to pay cellular download fees" means that Mr Perry is well aware that you, the user, is not paying the cellular download fees, but Amazon is, because the carrier still wants to charge someone. Amazon, who is thus paying the cellular downloads, is trying to recoup the cost off the book authors, because they are a much easier target than raising the price of the kindle to cover these costs, and isn't differentiating between how the book is downloaded in its fee.
Simply because someone might use wifi to download does not mean they might not use cellular at other times, or even some people might exclusively use cellular. Heck, I know people whose wifi router is connected to a cellular network modem.

Also, a graphic novel format is not Mr Perry's layout so a bit of a tangent there. Mind you, your marvellous effort to show how to jump through all those hoops to try and make a picture heavy ebook conform to Amazon's rules is appreciated. It helps to prove the point about how ibooks author is so much easier. 1wink.gif
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post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Entropys View Post


Did you actually read Mr Perry's comment?

Then, you would understand that "I realize that Amazon sometimes has to pay cellular download fees" means that Mr Perry is well aware that you, the user, is not paying the cellular download fees, but Amazon is, because the carrier still wants to charge someone. Amazon, who is thus paying the cellular downloads, is trying to recoup the cost off the book authors, because they are a much easier target than raising the price of the kindle to cover these costs, and isn't differentiating between how the book is downloaded in its fee.
Simply because someone might use wifi to download does not mean they might not use cellular at other times, or even some people might exclusively use cellular. Heck, I know people whose wifi router is connected to a cellular network modem.

Also, a graphic novel format is not Mr Perry's layout so a bit of a tangent there. Mind you, your marvellous effort to show how to jump through all those hoops to try and make a picture heavy ebook conform to Amazon's rules is appreciated. It helps to prove the point about how ibooks author is so much easier. 1wink.gif

But to imply state that a user isn't charged cellular download fees for iBooks is pure B.S.  You can't download an iBook over cellular without paying for the cellular service (sure - APPLE doesn't charge you that fee, but the carrier does, thus the user is "paying" for downloads).  Therefore, here's the simple logic: If you purchase and download ebooks over a cellular network, regardless of which device or carrier you use, you will pay for cellular service.   The only exception to that rule that I'm aware of was the 1st Generation Nook.  It had "fast and free" 3G wireless via AT&T (only in the US).  The Nook 3G cellular model was discontinued back in 2011.  Once the Agency model dropped everyone's book revenues, B&N couldn't absorb the cellular costs for book downloads via the price of the book.

 

The graphic novel format encompasses text and images and may be just the route that the author is looking for.  Only the author can tell for sure.  The main difference is that the graphic novel format allows an entire page/chapter to be made up of images with no text, yet the reader is still able to navigate through pages and chapters.   The format also allows for more control over the layout of the text/images.  Most graphic novel ebooks are more fixed in their layout because the author/artist is looking for a certain visual arrangement, rather than following the totally reflowable format of regular ebooks.  That could be just what the author is looking for in this case.

 

I think that the main problem most authors have in these situations is that they can't use one tool for writing/maintenance, and they end up having to learn a lot about the underlying technology and differences between how a book works in iBooks, the Nook app/devices, Kindle app/devices, Kobo, Sony, OverDrive, etc.  I wonder if there are "plug-ins" sold for iBooks Author that will allow it to create standard epub/mobil files?  Is there a way to use iBooks Author such that the proprietary extensions (improved functionality) that Apple made can be excluded? 

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