23 June 2010
I've just published an article about how you can make ebook apps for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. It's based on interviews with about 20 industry insiders, including bestselling app creators, authors and publishers.
A much shorter version of the feature appeared in the June 2010 issue of Writers' Forum magazine, but I've extended it online with lots of content there wasn't room for in the magazine.
It was an interesting time to be writing the article, because I think it captured a moment in time when it was easy for authors to build apps. It's already become much more difficult, even in the few months since I wrote the story. Firstly, the companies that enabled people to make apps based on RSS feeds have massively increased prices. The entry price used to be $25 and now it's many hundreds of dollars. That probably reflects the demand they've seen from big brands, and might not be a price that the market can sustain in the longer term, at least not without some consolidation in the companies offering those services. For now, with prices that high, you might as well commission a bespoke design (which the article also covers). Secondly, Apple has responded to the number of apps being created by setting much higher standards for approval.
For this project, I did try to create an iPhone app using RSS feeds, but it was unfortunately rejected by Apple for reasons unknown. It might have been a victim of a crackdown on the service I was using, or they might have visited on a day when I hadn't updated the blog for a week or two. With Apple, who knows? The process of making and submitting the app was easy from a technical point of view, but every support query took a week to get a response, and the admin was hard to navigate.
The new iPhone OS and the iPad support the iBook store, so this might create new opportunities for authors to get their content into Apple's handhelds, if they're happy to publish static ebooks. It will be interesting to see what kinds of content Apple decides to approve and reject, and how this changes over time. I suspect that once the catalogue of books is looking reasonably healthy, we'll see a lot of self-published content get deleted and new rules come into play.
To read some success stories from authors who have created apps and find out how you can create your own, see my article. (If you make audiobooks, check out my tutorial on how to get your music into iTunes and Amazon MP3 too. The same concepts apply for audiobooks).