iBooks, is there a change happening?


Just recently I’ve had two clients who have either had their books rejected at Apple without reason, or books have been taken down after they’ve been live for a considerable length of time. Let me start with the latter first, because it is most troubling.

A client sent me a Smashwords doc (Smashwords converts a Word file to an epub and distributes to Apple) with the comment that Apple said that there were many font inconsistencies in the book and they were taking it out of publication.  So, since this is something I do everyday, I opened the file to look. Well, it wasn’t formatted as I would format a file for Smashwords, 1.25 spaces between paragraphs instead of single space, the centering of lines wasn’t actually centered (this is easy to do as you have to not just push that ‘center’ button but go into ‘Paragraphs’ and make sure that there is no indent at ‘Special’). The font was Times New Roman throughout, so no font inconsistencies here! There were some errors, typos and formatting, but nothing egregious, something I see in almost every book I read on my Kindle or iPad, usually  not in books I’ve formatted though.

So instead of arguing with Apple or Smashwords, I just purged the file, re-inserted the italics, re-formatted the styles: Normal, Title, Center and Heading 1, and sent it back to the client for re-uploading at Smashwords.  I also warned her that since it was past the July 15 date for those new cover specs, that she should remember to upload her big honkin’ cover, 1600×2400 or something around that.

The next client (and I did do the conversion on this one) forwarded me an email from Smashwords saying that Apple/iBooks had rejected her file but gave no reason. The guys at Smashwords said that they were looking into this and would get back to her… no news yet. But again, if she wants to try once more at Apple, we’ll have to get the new bigger cover uploaded. What a pain!

What I’m thinking, and I’d like your opinions here, is that Apple is trying to upgrade the look of their site and taking down some books which they don’t think (the covers, not the content) look good enough from this new make-over. Hmmm. At least Amazon has assured us (when they put out the new covers specs which are pretty much the specs you’ll need for Apple) that they wouldn’t be taking down books with covers that didn’t fit to their specifications, but that the covers might not show up on their product page.

Personally and professionally, I’m troubled by all these changes. I know the eRetailers want their sites to look good, but their business is supporting authors. Without those authors they don’t have a business, now do they. I’m hoping that these two instances are just aberrations, and that this won’t be happening to any other clients. I’m also concerned that if there were errors in the content of these books, that Smashwords (who actually converts them into epubs) didn’t catch the errors before the books made it into their Premium Catalog. They’ve always done that in the past, and early on in my career I had a couple of books that had to be re-formatted and sent back to Smash because of some font and content issues, thankfully nothing in the last year though. So will I be getting more books back from Smash? And if there’s nothing wrong with them, and I dump Word docs into HTML to make sure, what do I do?

It’s a conundrum and I and my clients would like your feed-back.

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About athirstyblog

If you're a published author and are sitting on a basement full of backlisted books, then you've found the right blog. Although I formerly filled these pages with book reviews, they will now be filled with tips on eBook formatting, talk about the current technology of eBooks, and other stuff that interests me and hopefully interests you. I'm currently an eBook formatter, formerly a bookseller, archaeologist, illustrator and lover of all things historical and scientific. And I'm now a permanent citizen of DownEast Maine with my own beach and 175 year old house and everything! Come along for the Journey!
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