Brett Kelly, author of Evernote Essentials, has independently sold and distributed over 10,000 copies of his e-book. Accordingly, as an active member of the Apple community, and given the book's existence as a guide for an interactive service, many have posed the question: why not rebuild the book using iBooks Author?
Simply put, the adoption of iBooks Author, regardless of any benefits it may hold for the interactivity of the book, simply holds far too many negatives for Brett's business model. Whether it's Apple's restrictive pricing, potentially far-reaching EULA, or the distinct lack of direct interaction with the consumer, Brett writes that the answer to the aforementioned question is, unequivocally, "absolutely not."
One of the most striking problems -- one I had not considered -- is the matter of communication with the reader. Brett writes:
Like I said in that other post I wrote about eBook writing/selling, I capture an email address and name for each person who buys from me because, a) I want to keep in contact with them and try to add more value than just the eBook itself and b) having a list of names and email addresses of people who buy your stuff is extremelyvaluable. Sounds like Internet douchebaggery or whatever, but this is a business, after all.
At the moment, iBooks Author seems ideologically fantastic, but practically flawed -- at least as an independent publishing tool. The potential for iBooks Author is irrefutably present, and indeed, as I've argued in the past, the app is clearly destined for greater purposes than just textbooks (as is betrayed by the app's name). But, for now, for writers in Brett's position, the negatives evidently far outweigh the positives.
I have no doubt that iBooks Author will evolve beyond the bounds of textbooks and, accordingly, I hope the licensing and agreements will associatively grow. But that is much more difficult to discern. iBooks Author has a wealth of potential for independent authors, and I can only hope Apple will make concessions for such potential users. Otherwise, realistically, I doubt it will be long before a (marginally) viable alternative surfaces.
As an aside, the success of Evernote Essentials, in my eyes, is a ringing endorsement of the potential for digital and independent publishing. Undercutting the middle man, sustaining a level of accountability and communication between author and reader, and fostering a much more personal and up-to-date experience are all admirable and impressive goals -- goals that Brett has evidently attained.
So, as Stephen Hackett writes, regardless of what you might feel about iBooks Author, "Brett’s sold a bunch of copies of his ebook, so unlike most of us, he actually knows what the heck he’s talking about."
You can buy Evernote Essentials here.