Publishing to the iBookstore: Avoiding Trademark Issues

Learn from my experience.

iBooks Author CoverSome readers may know that back in early March I submitted a “Special iBooks 2 Interactive Edition” of iBooks Author: Publishing Your First Ebook to the Apple iBookstore. The 242-page book included many interactive elements, most notably a full three hours of original screencast video.

And then I waited for Apple to approve it.

And I waited.

And I waited.

Today, after nearly four weeks of waiting, I finally heard from Apple. But it wasn’t the approval I’d been hoping for. Instead, it was a pair of “tickets” for problem in the book file and cover art.

Apple’s complaints were all pretty much in the same vein. Here’s one of them:

Copyright Page, the following text appears: “iBooks 2 Special Interactive Edition”. Your book has been ticketed because of its use of the phrase “iBook” to describe it. iBooks is the trademark for Apple’s book reading software, and iBooks Author is the trademark for its electronic book creation software. Books created with Apple’s iBooks Author software and/or sold on the iBookstore should be described as a book, ebook, electronic book or interactive book, but not an “ibook.” Please use any Apple trademarks in compliance with the Apple Trademark Usage Guidelines available at http://www.apple.com/legal/trademark/guidelinesfor3rdparties.html. Note: Changing the phrase to “iBookstore Special Interactive Edition” would be acceptable.

So basically, I had described my book as a “special iBooks 2 interactive edition” and the folks at Apple didn’t like that. But they kindly suggested “iBookstore Special Interactive Edition” instead.

(I could argue here that iBookstore is just as much a trademark as iBooks, but where would that get me?)

This problem appeared twice in the book’s content, once on the cover, once on the cover art, and twice in the metadata. It took me 20 minutes to locate and fix all problems and then export new versions of the book and sample chapter. And then fix the meta data in iTunes Producer. The book is uploading as I type this.

So my point is this: be very careful about your use of the word iBooks when describing a book you create with iBooks Author. My main concern was being able to differentiate between the standard epub edition and the multimedia edition that blows it away.

Now I just hope they hurry it through the review process and don’t make me wait another four weeks.

March 31, 2012 Update: Although I addressed all issues of the tickets on my book and uploaded new files three days ago, there is still no indication that Apple has received my modified files. I don’t know if I screwed up on the resubmission or if Apple is so backlogged they haven’t marked them as received. Clearly Apple needs to rework both its iTunes Connect interface and its system for dealing with book approvals and revisions.

April 7, 2012 Update: One of the two tickets on my book has disappeared, but the other remains. Despite several attempts to contact Apple, it’s still unclear whether they realize that I have resolved this ticket. I keep getting canned responses that do not indicate whether they are following up on my problem. It seems to me as if they’re just sending out a response without even looking up the situation. I’m frustrated beyond belief at this point and angry about potential lost sales. And there’s no one at Apple who I can contact to get a definitive answer. Clearly, the iBooks Author publishing experience is broken and Apple is uninterested in fixing it.

May 28, 2012 Update: This continued to go on for quite some time, even after tickets disappeared. After a lot of nagging and nasty emails to Apple, my books finally appeared. One took 55 days for approval. The other took 75 days.

How to Prep a Video Clip for Inclusion in an iBooks Author Document

It’s a lot easier than you might expect.

iBooks Author’s Media Widget enables you to include video files in your books. I recently took advantage of this feature in the iBooks 2 Interactive Edition of my book, iBooks Author: Publishing Your First Ebook by including a total of 53 videos in the book.

iBooks Author is picky about video formats, however. It only accepts videos encoded with the AAC and H.264 codecs with the .m4v filename extension. While this format isn’t uncommon, it’s not the QuickTime format you might have expected.

So how do you convert a movie file that isn’t in that format to the format iBooks Author can understand? Oddly enough, you can use QuickTime. There are a number of different ways to do this. The easiest is to use the Export command.

  1. Open the movie file in QuickTime Player 10.1 or later.
  2. Export DialogChoose File > Export or press Shift-Command-S to display the Export dialog.
  3. Enter a name and choose a disk location to save the new file.
  4. Choose a FormatChoose an option from the Format menu. I normally choose iPad, iPhone 4, & Apple TV. This gives me high enough resolution for the iPad’s screen without generating a very large file. You can experiment with other formats if you like.
  5. Click Export.
  6. Export ProgressWait while QuickTime Player exports the file. A progress dialog appears while the file is being exported. When it’s finished, the file is ready for use.

I’ve been very pleased with the size of the exported file. For example, the movies I created for my book were shot full screen on a MacBook Air set to 1280×800 screen resolution and encoded with Apple Animation/Linear PCM. The resulting movies were downsized only slightly to 1152×720 resolution when converted to AAC/H.264. A 53 second movie that was 59.9 megabytes was compressed down to 6 MB — with virtually no quality hit.

Although the new iPad announced today has a much higher resolution screen, it remains to be seen whether higher resolution files are really necessary in your iBooks Author documents. If you have a new iPad, why not experiment a bit and let us know?

iBooks 2 Interactive Edition of iBooks Author Book Now in Production

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Screenshots from the sample chapters of the special interactive edition of my iBooks Author book now in production.

Get a sneak peek by downloading sample chapters.

My mini-vacation plans unexpectedly cancelled, I decided to make good use of my free time by creating a special iBooks 2 interactive edition of my iBooks Author book. This book, which can only be opened and read on an iPad running iBooks 2, includes photo galleries, interactive images, and video to help readers learn all about iBooks Author.

I’ll admit up front that producing this book is taking longer than I expected. I think that’s because I decided to create original screencast videos for all sets of step-by-step instructions in the book. This is an extremely time-consuming process, made even more difficult by the parrot in the next room who seems to know the absolute worst time to run through her repertoire of animal noises, voices, and sounds.

But you don’t have to wait to see what I’m up to — and how I’m doing. You can download a free sample copy of this book now.

The sample includes the book’s introduction and two sample chapters with a number of interactive elements to try out. The screen shots on this page should give you an idea of what you can expect not only in the sample but in the completed book.

I expect to have the book available for sale on the iBookstore by the end of February. You can help me achieve this goal by sending encouraging words my way — I always work hardest when I know people are waiting for me to finish. Use the comments feature for this post to share your feedback.

And be patient — I think you’ll agree that this edition is worth waiting for.

You can get more information about all currently available editions of this book on the book’s support page.

Sample iBooks Author-Created Ebook Now Available

Download it for free, then make it yourself.

How Helicopters Fly
Download this iBooks 2 Book Free!

I may have forgotten to mention this, but the ebook that readers of my book create is available for free from the iBookstore. It’s called How Helicopters Fly and you can find it here.

Keep in mind that this book does not showcase all the interactive features of iBooks Author. Instead, it concentrates on the ones I thought users would be most interested in: hyperlinks, cross-references, photo galleries, video, audio, and review questions. I’ll likely cover other features in additional titles or in short articles here.

Remember, you must have an iPad running iBooks 2 to read this sample book. My book that explains how to create this book, iBooks Author: Publishing Your First Ebook, is available in iBooks, Kindle, and NOOK formats with print a edition available soon.

Print Edition of “iBooks Author: Publishing Your First Ebook” Approved for Production

Should be available for order from major online booksellers within a week.

Just a quick note to let folks know that we’ve just approved the print proof for iBooks Author: Publishing Your First Ebook. This 242-page book looks great, especially in the new larger size we’ve set up for the Maria’s Guide series.

Our printer works directly with Ingram to get books listed in bookseller catalogs quickly. I expect the print edition of the book to begin appearing on Amazon.com and BN.com within a week or so. I’m hoping both organizations order the book in sufficient quantities to ensure speedy delivery to customers.

If you can’t wait for print, ebook editions are already available from both resellers. You can learn more about the book and follow links to purchase your copy on the book’s support web page.