Apple’s iBookstore not so i-tastic

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Something amazing happened the other day. No, I did not cure cancer, nor world hunger, or even find my mobile phone without having to call it from the home phone. What happened was even more earth shattering than if you were to take all of those things, mash them together and wrap them in bacon for what I accomplished was this: I managed to delete a book from Apple’s iBookstore.

For those unaccustomed to what it takes to get materials up for sale on Apple’s digital literary distribution network, here’s how you officially “remove” a book from the inventory:

How do I remove a book from the iBookstore?
There are several options to remove a book from one or more territories.

Admin or Technical iTunes Connect users can:

  • Redeliver the same book via iTunes Producer. Open the iTunes Store Package with the book, go to Territory Rights, and uncheck the Cleared For Sale checkbox for the desired country.
  • Or, locate your book in Manage Your Books and click Edit Rights & Pricing. Then, click Edit for the territory you want to change, and select No in the Cleared For Sale field.

You may look at that and ask, “But wherefore do I actually delete the book?” and the answer is, you can’t and it just sits there, thumbing its spine at you until it appears you write in and specifically ask them remove it from the system completely. After requesting this twice, they might, as it happened to me.

Of course if not being able to delete something you uploaded to a website (a rather banal feature) was the only glaring issue, I might be able to overlook it as while I’m not an Apple fanboy, I do admire the novelty of their products. But no, there are other issues with their system that have been driving me batshit for the last year and a half.

All Must Use Apple The other ebook publishers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and hell, even Google Play allow people to upload their files through a web interface. It is after all, 13 years in to the 21st century and we’ve had the technology to do this for some time. But Apple, no, you have to use iTunes Producer. While I hate using dumb software, I’ll stoop to it if needbe and in this case, the need does indeed be. Oh, but it only runs on OS X, so thus, you must buy an Apple machine if you want to sell on iBookstore. Reasoning that my sales wouldn’t be great enough to warrant the purchase of a fancy new MacBook, I opted for the cheapest Mac Mini I could find and use it to watch movies on my TV as well.

Web Interface I don’t even know why Apple bothers having a web interface for this stuff as it’s built so incredibly badly it looks like someone spent about one weekend tossing it together and not realizing that if you hit Back in the browser you get the “Reload the Page?” window which, for a website built after 1998 should never ever be happening. Maybe it works better in Safari, but I hate that browser so much, I haven’t bothered to check. My guess is no.

Pending Sale For new books uploaded, it takes several weeks for them to be approved for sale. Thankfully updates to the book file are a bit faster, but Amazon typically take at most, two days. Okay, Apple wants to check everything and make sure it’s of high, “Apple” quality, fine. Then there’s the weirdness with adding new countries. I added the 18 new countries to sell in that became available at the end of October 2012. Three months later, I’m still waiting for approval. This I don’t get as the books are already approved for sale in 32 base countries that existed. It should be automatic. Update: Others as equally frustrated as me pointed out that you needed to agree to a new contract, although Apple doesn’t mention this to you anywhere. You just need to know because, it’s Apple and well, what do you mean you don’t know?

Down Time Thankfully I’ve never needed to make a fast change at an odd time as there are so many outages for iBookstore, it’s mindblowing, such as the entire week of Christmas to New Year’s. I mean naturally, who would want to make a change to a title when people are most likely to buy said titles? It’s this last one that makes me think Apple has two guys working on this system with one server sitting between their desks in a basement. It has all the reliability of several old shitty websites I helped build nearly a decade and a half ago in that someone always needs to be around to restart something that fails often and without warning.

Naturally, given all my bitching, one might ask, “Why do you keep using it?” I use it simply for the reason of wanting more sales (ie money, money) but more because I don’t want Amazon to become the dominant way to get digital books. That terrifies the bejesus out of me because honestly, they admittedly have one of the best systems to get your books out there.

So I keep uploading and dealing with Apple’s crappiness. I even deal with Barnes & Noble despite the fact that I sell next to nothing there, which is a shame given that they have one of the better interfaces. I even deal with Google whose “Play” system is also quite bad. The only epub company I couldn’t do was Kobo. They have (or maybe had) this weird FTP system that was super primitive with uploading via an Excel spreadsheet. That was even too much for me to deal with above and beyond Apple’s un-approach to epub distribution.

One Reply to “Apple’s iBookstore not so i-tastic”

  1. I published my collection of short stories, The First Time using the services of a self publishing company in December 2012. The book has appeared on a number of ebook retailer’s websites including Amazon and Cobo, however as of today I am still waiting for it to appear in the Ibook Store. I am blind and love the accessibility of my Ipad (which I use with voiceover), however I am not impressed with what I hear about getting one’s work published on the Ibook Store!

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