Last week, Apple unveiled its new iPhone 6 without saying one word about its function as an e-reader. E-books? A market that Amazon has drawn blood for, and for which Barnes & Noble might have lost their business? Pah, small potatoes?
The omission struck Jeremy Greenfield in Forbes, who wondered if Apple was squandering an opportunity to make waves in the e-book business. To us book peeps (read take-it-to-Amazon-pow peeps), the omission was especially galling as the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are now the best Apple e-readers on the market, with larger screen sizes and improved screen resolution. What were they thinking?
This week, Apple made another little announcement. As of yesterday, Apple has begun updating all its device users to iOS8.
So? So, for the first time, iBooks comes standard. That little orange open-book icon is going to be popping onto lots of little screens.
How many screens are we talking about? Eight hundred million. 800,000,000! I feel like putting my pinkie to the corner of my mouth and going “bwah-ha-ha” in a Dr. Evil/Mike Myers impersonation.
The latest figures released by Apple showed 150 million iBook installations as of June 2013. So, simple math would tell the iBook self-publisher that with one fell stroke, Apple has added an extra 650,000,000 to your potential market. (This does not count any new users brought into the Apple fold by the iPhone 6.)
Of course, we should be cautious and give due respect to the word “potential.” All those people have to a) upgrade their operating system — which is something that I, myself, am notoriously slow at; b) double click on that little icon; c) find your book; d) like your book; e) buy your book. But, potentially, a market of 800,000,000. You have every right to celebrate that! (If you’d like another cut at the numbers, here’s a great article in DBW.)
And, to my mind, iBooks also extends another huge advantage to indy/self publishers: iBooks Author. This is such a powerful and elegant piece of software — something Adobe would charge thousands for, but being Apple, easier to use and stocked with templates that are oh-so-beautifully designed.
It’s free. Yes, FREE — insert pinkie and Dr. Evil bwah-ha-ha again.
And it can bring a level of interactivity to your e-Books that is worth exploring. Its built-in bells and whistles may not be necessary for a straight novel, but are rife with potential for nearly everything else. Even for novels, the interactivity brings new opportunities. It would be very easy to put together one of those “choose your own ending” stories, for example…hmmmmm…
On that note, I have to end. I have a new idea that needs writing.
Needless to say, an extra 650,000,000 potential readers is of no use to you if you can’t get their attention. So, to help with that, here are a few promotional opportunties:
The deadline for entering the Third Annual Shelf Unbound Writing Competition for Best Independently Published Book, sponsored by Bowker and Blurb, is October 1.
Foreword Reviews’ IndieFab Awards program is now open to indie books published in 2014.
And Publishers Weekly has just announced a new blog for independent authors.
Happy writing and publishing!
If you’re in the SF Bay Area, join my latest publishing course at Stanford on September 27th if you’d like a few more tips.