It's worth mentioning that it's not always your content that drives the decision to make an app or an eBook. One factor is cost. It's much cheaper to make an eBook. Another is your target market. Do they prefer apps or eBooks? Do they even know how to access the iBookstore or are they just discovering the AppStore? Do they own an Apple, Android or Kindle device? Or maybe you're not concerned about selling your app or eBook and want to give it away for free or use it to promote your printed books? Where will you get the most exposure? How will people discover your app or eBook?
If you'd like to discuss this with me in more detail, please get in touch via the contact form.
While not strictly an eBook file format, many eReader devices and apps also display PDFs. However, PDF is considered a lesser eBook format as PDF files don't include many of the features readers expect from eBooks.
Standard ePub and mobi
Standard eBooks generally include the ability for the reader to change some display options, such as text size and fonts, and the ability to search, highlight and make notes on the text. The standard eBook file format is what you might see on older Kindle eInk Readers and are most suited to fiction books.
Enhanced eBooks can include multimedia content such as audio and video. More advanced versions can also include animation and greater interactivity with the page.
Out of all the eBook file formats, fixed-layout eBooks most closely resemble printed books. Fixed-layout eBooks often also include enhanced features, such as audio, video, page-by-page narration and animation. A correctly formatted fixed-layout eBook will allow the user to highlight and search the text of the book. An improperly formatted fixed-layout eBook is more like a PDF and won't allow the reader to highlight or search the text. Unfortunately, despite the poor user experience (no search, no highlighting, no word definitions) some publishers have opted to produce their fixed-layout eBooks in this way. If you download an eBook that you think is just a PDF masquerading as a fixed-layout eBook, you should complain and ask for a refund.
These are the most popular ones:
ePub DRM-free ePub files work on most eReaders and within many of the eReader apps for smartphones, tablet and computers. Content is generally created as HTML/XHTML pages with CSS styling and embedded images.
The ePub format is maintained by the International Digital Publishing Forum
Kindle AZW (Mobi)
This is Amazon's proprietary version of the basic mobi eBook file format for Kindle apps and eReaders. It limits the amount of formatting to headings, bold, italics and basic justification in order to support the ability for the user to resize the text and change fonts. Images display 'in-line' and are often limited to black and white. AZW/Mobi files are sold via the Amazon Kindle store.
This is Amazon's newer file format developed for the Kindle Fire tablet and now being introduced to Kindle apps on tablets and smartphones. It supports color and 'fixed-layout' features, utilising some HTML5 and CSS3 features (like this website does). It is also a proprietary file format, which includes backwards compatibility on the Kindle Fire for AZW files.
Kindle eBooks are sold via the Amazon Kindle store.
Apple iBooks iBooks are eBooks sold through the Apple iBookstore and use the iBooks app on iPhones and iPads.
There are two types of iBook files:
iBooks produced with Apple's iBooks Author program for the Mac produce .iBooks files. These can be distributed freely to others via email or submitted to the iBookstore where they are encoded with DRM.
Apple supports many features of ePub3. ePub files submitted to the iBookstore support many of the latest ePub3 standard features but also allow ebook developers to use some enhanced features built specifically for the iBooks app. Apple ePub in the iBooks app support basic ePub files and fixed-layout and enhanced ePub.
When you produce an ePub file and can email it to someone and they can read it your file is 'DRM-free'.
When you upload an ePub file to most of the online eBook sellers like Amazon, Apple or Barnes&Noble your file will usually include DRM and will only work on the purchaser's devices. However, you may be able to sell an eBook as DRM-free. Apple allow this as an option with iBooks.
See this link to read more about eBooks and DRM.
I can also produce magazine-style apps for iPad, iPhone and Android, including Newsstand apps for the iPad.
There are two options:
• Cheapest to produce
• Good built-in interactive widgets, including quizzes, slideshows, notes and video
• Intro video available
• Ability to easily add HTML5 widgets
• Easy to edit and update
• Easy to preview and distribute
• Once a template is customised, authors can often produce subsequent titles themselves
• Currently iPad-only
• No read-along audio narration
• The book format is locked to the standard iBooks Author cover and content dimensions
• No page turn animation (although this could be considered an advantage to some)
• Currently limited to device fonts (no embedding of custom fonts)
• iPhone and iPad compatible
• Greater control over the formatting, page size, image resolution and book cover dimensions
• Embedding of free or licensed custom fonts possible
• Page-by-page audio narration feature (great for children's books)
• More time consuming and expensive to produce
• Involves editing code (while there are some exporting options from programs like In Design, there is currently no way to avoid editing the final code)
• ePub files are harder for authors to update themselves
Apple offer the free iTunes Connect app.
Appfigures offer tracking of iOS apps, iBooks and Android apps. There is a small monthly fee. Appfigures is one of the best browser-based services offering daily, weekly or monthly email reports. If you log in to the portal you can view the number of daily downloads and updates, and reviews and rankings from all countries. It can also generate custom reports and graphs.
AppAnnie is a free service with many of the features of AppFigures. It is also a great site that allows you to search historical rankings and appstore features. You can also research your competitors' apps. They offer a daily email.
AppViz is a Mac app with a great interface that imports data from iTunes Connect and allows you to view downloads and updates, reviews and rankings for iOS and Mac apps. It is good for creating custom reports and graphs. The developer is great at updating the app and responding to support emails.
Position App is a free iPhone app that tracks the ranking of iPhone apps on the appstore.
• Setting up and maintaining websites
• Setting up and/or running social media accounts
• Creating custom URL shortening services (mine is its.so, for example its.so/hungry)
• Basic video production and editing
• Graphic design and photography
• Concert posters, business cards etc.
• Writing grant applications
• Writing, proof reading and editing
I also work closely with business partners who offer printed book design and production, pre-press production, illustration, limited edition prints, professional photo scanning and digital asset management solutions.
I have over 4 years experience developing, selling and marketing successful apps on the appstore. I also have experience across a range of digital media and a background working on creative and collaborative media projects.
Please feel free to get in touch via the contact section on this site, even if you're in the early stages of your app idea or are an author looking for some basic advice on where to start with eBooks. Or maybe you want to write to say that you just don't like eBooks and want to tell me all the reasons why. That's fine, but expect a reply challenging your arguments.