skip to Main Content
ALLi Watchdog: Amazon Vs Apple

ALLi Watchdog: Amazon vs Apple

Photo of Giacomo and his dog

ALLi Watchdog and his dog

In this month's ALLi Watchdog post, the indefatigable Giacomo Giammatteo compares Apple with Amazon. Read on to let him help you decide whether you should be trying to get your bite of the Apple,…

Amazon Vs Apple

Everyone knows that Amazon sells more books than Apple, but it’s becoming obvious that Apple has moved past B&N into the number two position, and Apple is continuing to grow. According to iBooks Store Director Keith Moerer, addressing publishers at Digital Book World 2015, Apple’s ebook businesses is gaining 1 million new customers every week. That’s a lot of new readers.

If you’re an #author, and your books aren’t sold through Apple, rethink your strategy. Click To Tweet

If you’re an author, and your books aren’t being sold through Apple, you need to rethink your strategy. Of course, that would mean you’d have to abandon Kindle Select as Amazon demands exclusivity if an author is in Select. And that brings up a question many authors ask.

Should You Be Exclusive On Amazon?

I’ve never been a big fan of Amazon’s exclusivity clause. I also haven’t been a fan of the way that Amazon treats authors in relation to how other companies treat authors.

But let’s leave exclusivity aside for the moment, and focus on…

Who Is The Best eBook Retailer For Authors

The answer to the question of who is the best eBook retailer is more complicated than it might appear. Amazon sells the most books. We all know that. And in an article last March regarding which eBook retailer is number two, Jeremy Greenfield from Digital Book World had this to say.

I wish I could give you a clear answer, but after nearly a month of investigation into whether Apple or Barnes & Noble is now the second-largest ebook retailer in the US, this is the best I have: It depends.

I think with developments we’ve seen in the last half of 2014, Apple has secured the number two spot, but let’s move off the sales topic and focus on other issues.

I hear a lot of complaints about Apple, most of them having to do with how difficult they are to deal with, or how strict they are about accepting material, or how you need a Mac to submit a book. All of that is true—to an extent. But none of that has much to do with the long term.

Even if it takes you two weeks to upload a book—what’s two weeks when your book will be there for years, theoretically, forever. And yes, Apple can be strict about what material they accept, but I’m convinced that’s better for indie authors in the long run. As to needing a Mac… I wish it wasn’t so, but it is. That leaves you with a few choices, the easiest of which is using a good distributor, which isn’t a bad idea anyway.

But Who Treats Authors Best?

With Amazon firmly situated at the top spot for sales and Apple in control of the second position, I thought it was time to compare how the two stacked up regarding their treatment of authors.

Comparing Apple and Amazon

Commission 99c–2.983570
Commissions 2.99–9.997070
Commissions 10+3570
Commissions Int’l[1]3570
Delivery charges15c per megabyteup to 2 Gig free
Exclusivityrequired for some benefitsX
File types.mobiepub
Free books w/Select5 days per quarteranytime
Free books w/o SelectXanytime
Payment terms60 days32 days
Price matching enforcedX
Pricing internationallysome controlcomplete control
Reach globally12 territories51 countries
Sales reportingupdated every few hoursdaily
Scheduling promotionswith Selectanytime
Series manager toolX
Uploadingeasyneed a Mac

Now Let’s Dig A Little Deeper


Amazon lets authors select two categories for books, although they do restrict some of the categories and won’t let you choose them. Apple allows you to select three categories, with no restrictions.


Notice I said commissions—technically, these are not royalties. The process is complicated here, but only on Amazon’s side. The chart lists it, but here are the details and some additional information.


  • If your book is priced between 99c and $2.98, you are paid a 35% commission.
  • If it is priced between $2.99 and 9.99, you are paid 70%.
  • If it is priced at $10 or more, you are paid 35%.
  • If you are not in Select (Amazon’s exclusive program) you will be paid 35% in the following countries:
    • Brazil
    • India
    • Japan
    • Mexico
  • If that wasn’t complicated enough, Amazon also charges a delivery fee if your book falls into the 70% commission range.


– You receive 70% no matter what price or where it’s sold.

Note About Commissions

Before Apple entered the scene, Amazon paid indie authors 35% across the board. It wasn’t until it became obvious that Apple was coming out with an iPad that Amazon said…

“Holy shit, I better pay these guys more.” (My words, not Amazon’s.)

And so they raised the royalties to 70%, which was not much of a surprise as that is the percentage Apple was paying musicians and app developers.

Note About International Sales (Brazil, India, Japan, Mexico)

Before you go thinking—I’m not worried about those countries, I don’t sell anything there—think again. India is the second largest English-speaking country in the world with about 130 million people. Add another 40 million from the other three countries and you’re looking at a population of English-speaking readers about half that of the US.

The reason you’re probably not selling anything there is because you’re not marketing there. It’s not a coincidence that Amazon recently borrowed $2 billion to invest in their infrastructure in India. Think about that—if Amazon considers that India warrants a $2 billion investment, shouldn’t you invest a little time for your own future in India?

Here’s an article from the Wall Street Journal about it.

The point is, Amazon already has indie authors thinking that India, Mexico, Brazil, and Japan are worth nothing. They are insignificant. Who cares if we’re paid 35% instead of 70%? By the time the markets explode there, it will be too late.

Don’t let Amazon fool you. We should be fighting for our 70% rights now.


Apple provides coupons to give out to customers, bloggers, reviewers. It’s a nice touch and easy to use.
Amazon does not.

Delivery Charges

This is one of those things that—when first looked at—seems like nothing. But the more you analyze the cost, it becomes apparent how serious it is. (Amazon only charges you if you are in the 70% commission plan.)

My charges for normal mystery books average 10–12c per book. On a book priced at $2.99 that reduces your earnings from $2.10 to about $2.00. That represents an effective cut of about 4%. So in reality, you’re getting 66% instead of 70%.

The actual charges amount to 15c per megabyte. This could get serious if you have a 10-meg file and are selling your book for $4.99. Instead of receiving $3.50, you’d get $2.00. That’s taking your commission from 70% to 40%. A huge cut in commissions.

This is so important, I want to spend a moment on it. If you’re a typical novelist and your book is primarily text it won’t affect you much. Maybe the 3–4% I cited above; however, if you produce cookbooks, illustrated books, non-fiction books heavy with charts, tables, graphs, and images—then these delivery charges mean a lot.

Take a look at this example.

MegabytesCost of BookApple PaysAmazon PaysApple PercentageAmazon Percentage
1 meg4.99$3.50$3.3570%67%
5 meg4.99$3.50$2.7570%55%
10 meg4.99$3.50$2.0070%40%

Before you go thinking…“A 10meg file is a lot…” consider that many of the cookbooks run from 20 – 50 meg or more. The screenshot below is from The Complete Cooking For Two Cookbook, and it weighs in at a whopping 90meg! Of course, at that size it has to be priced much higher, so it falls into the 35% commission range, which means Amazon doesn’t charge a delivery fee—but Amazon now keeps 65% of sales.

This book lists at a Kindle price of $29.95, which means Amazon rakes in $19.47 per book! If an indie author produced this book, they would only receive $10.48 per book. Of course, Amazon had it discounted to $21.78, but that doesn’t come close to matching Nook’s price on the same book: $16.49.

Why doesn’t Amazon match the price?
I’m not sure. Maybe they haven’t noticed …. ….. ….. Now that I’ve finished laughing, let’s speculate on the real reason.

If you are in the 35% commission zone (or if you’re with a major publisher) Amazon pays you commission on the list price—not the matched price. In this case, that means that Amazon is paying this publisher $10.48 per book[2] even though they discounted the price to $21.78. If they went so far as to match Nook’s price of $16.49, they would still have to pay the $10.48, which would still leave Amazon a healthy profit…but they don’t want to do that. Not all the time.

This brings up a question though—if Amazon is so keen to give their readers lower prices, why not do it with these high-priced books? They certainly have the margins to work with.

No matter. We’re not going to delve into that today. That’s a topic for a future post. For now, let’s move on to exclusivity.

One thing to note before we move on—if you had that same cookbook on Apple and priced it at $29.95, your commission would be $20.96.


  • Amazon demands exclusivity if you want to participate in the Lending Library, Kindle Unlimited, or Kindle Select, which allows you to give books away free for five days per quarter. Select also pays equal commissions in Brazil, India, Japan, and Mexico.
  • Apple has no exclusivity.

File Types

Amazon uses .mobi files and Apple uses ePub.

Free Books

  • As noted above, with Amazon you must be in the Select program in order to give books free and even then it’s limited to five days per quarter.
  • With Apple, you can give books free at any time.

Payment Terms

Amazon pays 60 days after the end of each month, while Apple pays 32 days after the end of each month.

Price Matching

  • Amazon insists on having the lowest price, no matter where your book is sold. It will typically price match if they find it at a lower price elsewhere, but they can take other actions, such as removing your book from KDP.
  • Apple has no such requirements.

This is a big concern for me. I don’t want anyone dictating the price I set for my books. Suppose I want to offer Apple readers a special deal on the anniversary of the launch of the iPad, or do the same for Nook readers when a new reader comes out. The problem is that Amazon won’t allow it.

Pricing Internationally

With Amazon, there is some control over how you price your books on the international front, but with Apple there is complete control. This can be a big factor if your strategy is to use price to break into a new market. With Apple you have 51 countries where you can adjust price individually, and even put the price in the local currency. I’ve included a piece from another article I wrote for the Alliance of Independent Authors.

Territory Pricing

If you don’t immediately grasp the significance of territory pricing, let me provide some detail. One of the biggest problems with selling internationally is the high cost of books in other countries related to the cost of books in the US. We might be able to sell a solid mystery or fantasy for $5.99, but take that price to Mexico, Brazil, or India, and your book will likely sit on the virtual shelf forever.

We have had the ability to manage prices individually as long as we went direct to the retailer. As an example, on Apple’s iBooks I price differently for many of the 51 countries they offer. So I sell for $5.99 in the US, $3.99 in the UK, and 99c in many countries like India, Japan, Mexico, etc. (You can also set prices according to local currency which makes it nicer, too.)

Here’s a quick chart to show you how you could set prices.

US Dollar$5.99
UK Pound Sterling£1.99
Brazilian RealR$.99
Mexican Peso$4.99
Chinese Yuan¥12.99

The currency shown above might not mean much to you if you’re not familiar with the rates, but the table below shows what it would look like if you simply let an app automatically adjust price to other currency.[3]

US Dollar$5.99
UK Pound Sterling£3.83
Brazilian RealR$15.57
Mexican Peso$92.00
Chinese Yuan¥36.95

As you can see, this pricing strategy is offering discounts to other countries and offering them in the countries’ own currency. And don’t forget that Amazon often charges a surcharge of up to $2.00 per book or more in some countries, making our books unaffordable.

Global Reach

  • With Amazon you can sell your book in 12 different territories.
  • Apple has 51 countries.

Sales Reporting

  • Amazon is updated every few hours.
  • Apple is updated daily.

Scheduling Promotions

  • Amazon allows you to schedule Countdown promotions if you’re in Select.
  • Apple allows you to schedule promotions any time for various countries.


  • Amazon is very easy. You can upload your file in minutes.
  • Apple is much more time consuming, and, you need access to a Mac.

This is a big drawback for Apple, and a feature I wish they would change.

Bottom Line

It’s time for the final analysis—who is the best retailer for ebooks?

Forget that you make more sales on Amazon, which I’m sure most of you do. Forget everything anyone ever told you and put a blindfold on your emotions. Look at the cold hard facts.

Apple treats authors fairly. All authors.

There’s no question in my mind who the best retailer is. I may not sell as many books with Apple—yet—but it’s a whole lot more fun working with them. And I’d much rather work with a true partner…so I’ll be rooting for Apple to continue to gain market share and provide more competition.

My Predictions

I believe that Apple will continue to increase market share for iBooks worldwide in 2015. I think people have underestimated the impact of two simple things regarding iBook sales:

  1. Apple pre-installing ibooks on all devices running the newer OS.
  2. The new, bigger phones.

My daughter-in-law and two of my other friends have now switched from reading on a Kindle app to reading almost exclusively on their new iPhone 6+. Remember, the vast majority of Kindle readers don’t actually own a Kindle, they read Kindle books on other devices. And Apple has hundreds of million of devices in use. A lot of the new iPhone purchases are by people new to Apple, and they are coming into the Apple ecosystem with iBooks pre-installed, so if they want to read books—it’s not a stretch to think they’ll opt for iBooks.

Combine that with the fact that a lot of authors are finally recognizing that Apple is worth considering as a retail channel, and you have the makings of a perfect storm. A larger selection of books/authors, draws more readers, and more readers draw even more authors. Apple also has a much stronger international presence, and, as noted above, far better terms for authors.

Apple/iBooks will be the one to watch in 2015.

BTW: Here is a link to all of my books on Apple, and Amazon. And B&N and Kobo and Google.

Easy Tweet

The results are in... #selfpub watchdog report: Amazon vs Apple - buff.ly/1EL4AYR Click To Tweet

  1. Brazil, Mexico, Japan, India if not in Select  ↩
  2. for argument’s sake I kept it at 35%. That is the indie-author price.  ↩
  3. based on a $5.99 US price.  ↩

Author: Giacomo Giammatteo

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. He also writes non-fiction books including the "No Mistakes" Careers series.
He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.” His website is at www.giacomogiammatteo.com.


This Post Has 390 Comments
  1. while Amazon dominates eBook sales, Apple’s author-friendly policies and fair treatment make it an appealing choice for authors. The decision should align with individual goals and priorities in the ever-changing eBook landscape.

  2. Despite Amazon’s sales dominance, Apple’s author-friendly policies and flexibility make it a compelling choice. Authors should make informed decisions considering their individual goals and priorities.

  3. Great post! Your insights and tips are incredibly helpful. I appreciate the practical approach and step-by-step guidance you’ve provided. It’s evident that you’ve put a lot of effort into creating this valuable content.

  4. Amazon and Apple are two of the most successful and well-known companies in the world, but they operate in vastly different industries. Amazon is primarily an e-commerce and cloud computing giant, while Apple is a technology company that designs and sells consumer electronics, computer software, and online services.

  5. FANTASTIC IDEA — but how many readers will get a chance to see the Smashwords account? Most people haven’t heard of them. Plus, can you also upload pictures for your books?

  6. “Less-important” books? Be careful, Michael, those books might hear you and rise up in revolt. But I hear what you’re saying. Everyone has to do what they feel is best for each book.

  7. Amazon is letting millions of people earn money, but I don’t think that Apple can offer the same facility so Amazon is the winner anytime.

  8. David, actually Amazon is far easier to upload to, and easier to get set up with in general. Once you go through the process with Apple it’s easy after that, but the beginning is more difficult.

  9. “Less-important” books? Be careful, Michael, those books might hear you and rise up in revolt. But I hear what you’re saying. Everyone has to do what they feel is best for each book.

  10. Producer is accessible to PC users via Macincloud. They are able to lease space in the cloud for uploads. Then, you may manage your IP using iConnect on PCs. Additionally, there are businesses that will upload content for PC authors so they may control their IP on iConnect.

  11. That’s a great point about pricing lower for countries like India and Basil. I have sold books there so I will definitely apply your price thing since your UK and US prices are about in line with mine. Have to say, I have a kindle keyboard, which I love for reading outdoors in summer on holiday but I do all the rest with a kindle app or i Books on an iPad.

  12. I am trying to manage sales for my wife’s book…currently listed on Amazon for 70%. We are struggling to figure out how we get paid for thousands of pages read on the lending library….but from what i read, so are all the other authors out there.

  13. That’s a great point about pricing lower for countries like India and Basil. I have sold books there so I will definitely apply your price thing since your UK and US prices are about in line with mine. Have to say, I have a kindle keyboard, which I love for reading outdoors in summer on holiday but I do all the rest with a kindle app or i Books on an iPad.


  14. I keep listening to the news bulletin speak about getting boundless online grant applications so I have been looking around for the
    most excellent site to get one.

  15. Good Morning Captions
    WhatsApp group link
    Small business ideas in India
    How many religions are there?
    WhatsApp marketing strategies and tips
    Small business ideas from home
    Bill Gates religion
    How to setup and create a WhatsApp group?
    Small Business Ideas For Women
    What is WhatsApp marketing?
    Which religion was founded by Akbar?

  16. Hmm – a lot to think about here, and a great post. I’ve been Amazon exclusive until now and think I’ve been seduced by the fact I’m getting as many borrows through KU as sales, but this has me reconsidering that decision. As you say, Jim, Amazon is a *lot* more complicated to upload to. I have registered an account, but even that took me some time. I need to take a breath before I think about uploading a book. Apple suffers from the same problem as the Microsoft websites – it’s a company run by geeks, and geeks don’t understand how complicated stuff can appear to the rest of the world.

  17. David, actually Amazon is far easier to upload to, and easier to get set up with in general. Once you go through the process with Apple it’s easy after that, but the beginning is more difficult.

  18. I really enjoyed and learned a lot from this article. Rob C’s comment should be our mantra for today. He said that iBooks provides a “modern reading experience.” He refers to the ability in iBooks, lacking with Amazon, to put in video links and other links within the ebook, and how an ipad seems to display better quality color illustrations.
    But it’s that idea — a modern reading experience — and how shall we define it from the reader side, the author side, and the publisher side.

  19. Nice post, Thanks for the useful content. It’s hard to find nowadays to know about the basics but you did it so much well. I would love to see more about it.

  20. Your content is very informative thanks for sharing… Free Download full version software on single click… youtube downloader pro crack kickass is one of the best platforms for download crack software and its license key… It also displays the latest version detail and many more… THANKS FOR VISITING.

  21. Nice Post Sir, tHANK FOR sHA… Moj is a part of this competition: a short video application in which its users, mainly from India, upload their videos to display their talent.

  22. David, actually Amazon is far easier to upload to, and easier to get set up with in general. Once you go through the process with Apple it’s easy after that, but the beginning is more difficult.

  23. David, actually Amazon is far easier to upload to, and easier to get set up with in general. Once you go through the process with Apple it’s easy after that, but the beginning is more difficult.

  24. One of the best Platforms where you can learn Skills “Graphics Designing, WordPress, Digital Marketing and Search Engine Optimization” etc. Please visit here for more information. “grassrootsedu.com”

  25. To write a beautiful post it is very important to write a beautiful container and have prepared a very good design and I got a lot of inspiration from your post and I would also like to post like you in my life.

  26. What’s the easiest way to upload the book to Apple, can you do it yourself, like Amazon, or do you have to go through a distributor, and which one.

  27. The less your post is praised, the less such a post gets to see so that I get to learn something, I am very happy to see your post and I will also go to write good posts in life like you. Inspired.

  28. My boyfriend asked if I would like an IPad for Christmas/my birthday (which is a week after Christmas) and I of course said I would LOVE one. I currently have an IPhone 4 and a MacBook and I really like Apple products.

  29. Thanks for giving such a wonderful tips PC users can gain access to Producer through Macincloud. It allows them to rent time in the cloud for uploads. iConnect can then be used on PCs to manage your IP. Also, there are companies that will do the uploading for PC authors, who can then manage their IP on iConnect. , This article is really full of information and knowledge

  30. Very awesome page to read! I myself have been working on an idea for a book series (fantasy/fiction) since I was a freshman in high school and I have kept adding to it. Now in my 30’s, I’m finishing up school but I don’t want a career to be the only thing I pour my energy into so I’ve been working on the outline and overview of the story and events in my book and have begun to actually write it using Pages on my Macbook Pro. I love to draw and be creative so A LOT of the imagery, drawings, and illustrations will be done by my own hand.

    The main thing that brings you to a halt is always the publishing process, especially for someone who has never done it. After reviewing the information and being an avid Apple user I can see myself going in their direction! Apple, Google, and Amazon are and will continue to be some of the biggest giants in commerce right now, so my only concerns are things like copyright and all that. I’ve been seeing a lot of tv commercils for publishing books now, too, which struck me as odd. So if I, say, went with Apple, who would technically own my story then? Do they automatically own the rights to my works if I publish to them? All I want is for my work to always be mine no matter what, so any advice on the aforementioned questions? 🙂 Thanks! Wonderful article and great way to compare!!


  31. Thanks for this excellent comparison and this will help me to publish ebook on right platform thank youThanks for this excellent comparison and this will help me to publish ebook on right platform thank you

  32. […] Amazon vs Apple – an interesting comparison. For when I hit that “publish” button again. I’m on both, but Apple sales (via D2D) are minimal for now… That’s all for today! Have a great week! […]

  33. I would love to know if 4 years later Apple/iBooks is still the way to go (in your opinion). Thanks for this well researched article. It is so helpful…

  34. Nice post. There are really many authors out there who just consider Amazon as the only destination for selling books. It is always better to get an idea about the various available platforms. Keep sharing such informative posts.

  35. hi.
    I am an independent author too and recently I published my book in amazon, and your note will help me a lot, but, my question is: How did you get B&N sells your book?

  36. Excellent review – thanks!

    I started writing a technical book in iBookAuthor several years ago. (I really liked the fact that I can do math using LaTex, and I don’t believe other authoring software are that equation friendly.) I figured that Apple would eventually release a reader for iBooks on other platforms, but that didn’t happen. Apple did add ePub templates to iBookAuthor, so I converted my content to the ePub format.

    Question: I understand that Apple reserves rights to the iBook format, so you can essentially only sell it through Apple. Does this constraint apply to ePub books created in iBookAuthor as well? Am I free to see it on other platforms (Amazon)?

    1. I have just about the same question. I have a story I began writing as a freshman in HS and after all these years of taking notes, coming up with characters and so much more I’m finally putting the pieces together and hoping to publish someday. I felt that in our modern age now it would be so much easier because nowdays people can upload files to anything, but it’s still confusing and overwhelming. I did love the article though and it shed some great light on what I’ll do but one thing I was curious about more than anything is the rights. I mean, would uploading our work with either of the services automatically grant us 100% creative and other rights to our books or how does that work? Like if anyone else wanted to take my work and do something with it, it would all have to go through me first, right?

      I have a MacBook so I’m good on that end but I think what I care about the most is that my stories will always belong to me and no one else, you know? 🙂 Thx for any info!

    2. I haven’t seen much change in the market share, but I believe that is partially due to Apple not pushing its advantages. Perhaps they will in the future. I still see it as a viable market for a lot of books. For example: I sell more grammar books through Apple than all the other retailers combined. Why? I don’t know.

  37. Does Apple allow all author from different country to self publish with the or they have some restriction. Please reply i seriously want to buy a mac

  38. […] . Sure, Amazon sells the most ebooks, but did you know that Apple has moved past Barnes & Noble into the number two position, and is continuing to grow? You can publish directly on iBooks if you’re a Mac user, or you can take advantage of all the same opportunities by publishing through aggregators/book distributors. Some authors even make more money from iBooks than they do from Amazon. So, how do you sell more books on iBooks: . Write a Series. Why? iBooks has promotions for free first in series. iBooks readers are less price sensitive, so even if you give the first away as a free starter, you can still put the rest at full price. . Sell Box-Sets You can sell higher priced box sets as there’s no $9.99 cap on royalties.   iBooks readers are used to these as traditional publishing sell at pretty high prices.  If you publish directly to iBooks, you also get more choices for categories which can improve discoverability. . Use Pre-orders and Promote it to Readers You can add iBooks up to a year in advance.  Having it there for so long means that as soon as someone finishes a book, they can order the next one with no need to remember buying it later. . Pre-orders on iBooks Rank Twice They are counted in the iBooks bestseller lists while on pre-order and then you get the sales counted all on the live date. Yes, you have to do more planning in advance, but it helps to keep to the production schedule and customers know what to expect next. . Promote Your Book While it is on Pre-order Drive customers to the pre-order site by revealing aspects during the journey to publication. Do a cover reveal a few months out and an early sample of your book.  The pre-order, if it’s a series, it will be linked on the iBooks page. . Link Directly to the iBooks Store Some authors complain that they don’t sell many books on iBooks, but there’s no evidence of them actually promoting their iBooks.  You can also share directly from iBooks to social media. . Use Promo Codes for Reviewers You can get promo codes that enable you to give your books away for free to reviewers. Like all online bookstores, iBooks has algorithms that help discovery for books with more reviews and more traffic. . Use Mobile Marketing iBooks is the default reading app on all Apple devices. There are also in-app purchases, unlike Amazon’s Kindle app, which makes it easier to buy with a click. . Share Direct Links Use direct links to your books in the iBooks store when you tweet or update a social media status.  Readers who are browsing on mobile will be able to click and buy immediately.  Make sure you include great images in your iBooks marketing. . See a Comparison: Apple iBooks with Amazon Kindle https://selfpublishingadvice.org/alli-watchdog-amazon-vs-apple/ […]

  39. While I think this article is excellent, the writer’s assumption that because iBooks is automatically installed on an Apple device means people will automatically choose that is ridiculous. All the eBooks I own are on Kindle, therefore I’m not going to use iBooks because most of my library is somewhere else and I’m not going to repurchase all the content I have (500+ books, I’m an insane reader).

    The best part of Apple devices to me is that you can put the Kindle app on them for free, sign in, and have all your books on there too. You can have the Kindle app on any device – Android, Apple, PC, laptop, Mac – it doesn’t matter. The same cannot be said for the iBooks app.

    Therefore, despite Apple being the nicer ones to work with, I firmly believe Amazon will continue to be the leader is this field, especially now they have included print books into their KDP easy to use system. You only have to go onto their website and you can calculate costs of eBooks, print books, use their cover designing tool for professional look. Apple may have all these things too, but can I use their app on all my devices? No, I cannot.

    1. As a reader I would rather support a company that treats their authors right. I too have hundreds of books and I even own a kindle. But, you best believe that after reading this article I am going to be purchasing my books from Ibooks. After the author took so much time and consideration to give me a finished work that’s i can enjoy, the least i can do is support them and ensure they are getting the money they earned. Not some big shot billionaire, richest man on earth, who does NOT need to take away all the rights an author has for their creative work. Just saying.

    2. Candy; If you read the article again, you’ll see I didn’t say people would automatically use Apple. I said that it wasn’t a stretch to presume that a lot of people would opt for iBooks since it came pre-installed. That’s a big difference.

      One thing I didn’t mention because it’s pure conjecture, is suppose that Apple wanted to get serious about the book business, and it stopped alloweing Amazon’s Kindle app on their devices? I guarantee people woulld not get rid of their iPhones or iPads so they could read on a Kindle.

  40. Hi webmaster, i’ve been reading your site for some time and I really like coming back here.
    I can see that you probably don’t make money on your site.

    I know one interesting method of earning money, I think you will like it.

    Search google for: dracko’s tricks

  41. Can anyone on here give me step-by-step instructions on how to go about writing and publishing a cookbook and how to work with Apple once my books are completed?

  42. […] announcement took space in 2015 when Apple claimed seeing 1 million recent iBooks users per week), there might well be some proof that it behooves indie authors to on the very least enhance the platf… and with the recent iPad Writer instruments it appears as if creators – and educators – will […]

  43. Hi Giacomo! I have a book that I just finished writing. I am debating whether to go the Amazon route, or publish through Apple. Has anyone done both? Is it possible to reuse the same Amazon createspace ISBN to publish through iBoooks? Thanks!!

    1. Hi, I’ve never written a book before and was wondering if you could provide me with step by step instructions on how to go about writing and publishing a cookbook?

    2. I know you wrote this a while ago, but I wondered what decision you made? I am thinking I prefer Amazon KDP simply because iBooks is not available to everyone (the app isn’t available for Android as far as I am aware). I figure that the Kindle app can be downloaded to any device, Apple, Samsung, tablets, whatever, so that gives more chance for buyers. Did you choose one or the other?

  44. Hi, Giacomo.

    Thank you for sharing your research and conclusions. I am a professional ghostwriter brand new to the world of ebooks. Are the findings still relevant/accurate? If not, will you be sharing an update?

    Sage Knight

    1. Hi, I’ve never written a book before and was wondering if you could provide me with step by step instructions on how to go about writing and publishing a cookbook?

  45. I’m very new to all of this and am trying to understand the Amazon “select” thing. If you can only sell your ebook on Amazon how come I see authors selling it on Amazon and also B & N and apple etc?

  46. Hi out there, I read most of these comments. My self pub book is almost finished. I like the idea of 70% commission from Apple v/s 30% from Amazon; however, I don’t like Amazons’ exclusivity. My book is produced using an iPad. I use an attached Zagg keyboard. What about book costs from Amazon and shipping? How do I get paid from Amazon? thx. Tk ~

      1. I usually write blogs using a Markdown editor. The one I use for that was Byword, which I love because it has versions for a desktop, iPhone and iPad. It also has a feature that lets you publish to your website.

    1. I understand that ibooks are published for free? I published a book on Amazon, story of a submarine vet and his journey underwater, and then returning to Waikiki where he resided. A true story of his back and forth patrols of 5 trips.
      I would like to sell this book on iBooks. Would I be in violation with Amazon if I sold on iBooks?
      Thanks for your consideration. thomas Kim

  47. I think you should check out author earnings on who is actually selling books. Also, your article is incredibly biased. Your dislike of Amazon and your love of Apple shows through in almost every line. There are pros and cons to being exclusive and wide. But the ‘bottom line’ as you say, depends on if you are a newer author or an existing one. New authors, without any argument, will do better on Amazon’s KDP Select. No question here, the data is solid. What is also solid, is that Apple does nothing to put your books in front of customers after 30 days. Nothing. ‘How they treat authors’ is a wholly subjective idea. I have been treated fine by Amazon but had a book rejected by Apple for having the word ‘Amazon’ in it. Not a link, just the word.

    1. Jeff: I admit my bias–no question. I like Apple more and part of that is because they treat all authors fairly regardless of who they are. I also admit that most authors will sell more books on Amazon, but that doesn’t excuse them for treating authors badly. And whether you think so or not, taking half your commissions for selling in certain countries or at certain prices is not fair. And telling you what price you’re allowed to sell your book at is not fair. And many, many other things. As to whether people will make more on KDP or not is up in the air–some will. Some won’t.

      Despite my bias, I tried KDP out with three of my books (out of 40), and they haven’t sold much. On the other hand, a friend of mine is doing well on KDP.

      And one more thing, Apple will promote a book they think is worth promoting. They have promoted three of my books so far.

        1. Couldn’t agree with you more. A two year old ‘state of the union’ snapshot is great but some recent info would be helpful…

      1. Hi, I’ve never written a book before and was wondering if you could provide me with step by step instructions on how to go about writing and publishing a cookbook? Also how would I go about working with Apple?

    1. How is Apple the arbiter of what is awesome? Shouldn’t the free market, ie; actual sales, determine what is commercially viable and what is not?

  48. Hello Giacamo,

    I appreciate your time in advance and in writing an interesting blog.
    I have 13 eBooks that are designed from Indesign files that sit on my web site. These books are downloadable once the person accesses the membership through the cart. See http://taurustrainer.com.au/programs/
    My question is…
    If I thought I would rather go iBook (based on your selection of who to go with), what format should I get the files converted into and secondly, does Apple convert the books into different languages for you or is that something I would need to do and then upload separately?

  49. “Tom
    If you use Apple’s eBook Author App to make your book they do enforce exclusivity.So be careful.This may also imply that they will go further down this road in future.”

    Apple have made their policy for iBooks authors quite clear. There are no restrictions for authors to sell non-.ibooks format on other sites or with other publishers.

    See ‘Publish and sell books with iBooks Author’ at https://support.apple.com/en-au/HT201183.

    Published Date: Mar 22, 2017

    Distribution on the web
    You can distribute works you’ve created with iBooks Author on the web as a standalone purchase or subscription product or service. When you sell your book on the web, it must be in a non-.ibooks format. Examples of a non-.ibooks format include PDF and ePub. If you wish to sell your work in the .ibooks format, it may be sold only through the iBooks Store. When you provide a work for free, you can distribute it in any format (including .ibooks) through the iBooks Store or by other means.

    About copyright
    You retain all your rights in the content of the work you create in iBooks Author. If you distribute your work in .ibooks format, it’s subject to the distribution restrictions described above.

  50. Hi Giacomo

    I see that IngramSpark now acts as an agent for the sales and delivery of digital books to Apple for a commission of 60% of customer prices payable by eBook purchasers net of any and all taxes collected. This seems to be a slightly better deal than the 30% for self publishers and authors given by Amazon for any books with images and more than 300 pages. I guess that a combination of IngramSpark and Apple might just be a little more profitable than Apple exclusively. What do you think? A blog about Apple and Ingram Spark might be interesting.

  51. If you are having trouble uploading to Amazon try out the Kindle Textbook Creator which will accept a PDF. Bookmarks can be added to the PDF before going live. I was able to get a fixed format cookbook laid out in InDesign up on Amazon on the first try with no problems by converting the InDesign file to a PDF and submitting via Kindle Textbook Creator.

  52. If you use Apple’s eBook Author App to make your book they do enforce exclusivity.
    So be careful.
    This may also imply that they will go further down this road in future.

  53. Hi Giacomo,

    Thank you for sharing this article – It has started restore my faith in what the internet was set up for in the first place. My question might appear odd for many writers. I have self-published a short story book and enjoyed the journey and my 5-minutes of fame. Now, I have decided that I would like to simply share my work and distribute my book and the future books on-line for FREE.

    Do you know any sites that would provided the type if service, where I could allow readers to simply download my books for FREE?

    I am also playing with the idea of setting up my own website and allowing users to download my books in e-pub, kindle, PDF,etc – Do you have any advice?

    Would really appreciate any advice or guidance.


    1. Perry,

      Project Gutenberg will assign an ISBN and publish your free book once you format it according to their specification. The website is great for preserving many classics and making all kinds of books available for free.

  54. Wow.. I must you are too good.. Im currently publishing books on kindle but worth reading. I will try to figure out a way to use Apple ibooks too. Thanks for the lovely share..

    GOD bless you..

  55. This is really interesting. Thanks for all the info. I’m afraid Apple’s requirement that you have a Mac to upload is a dealbreaker for me. I hate using Macs. I’m certainly not going to buy one just for this, nor do I even want to borrow one for it. So looks like I won’t be self publishing through ibooks anytime soon. Maybe if they remove that restriction…

      1. Please can you direct me to how i can upload medical book , the book is written in ward document , docx, i am unable to upload it as ebook. what is the formate needed? Is there is limited number for pages, photos, or tables. Thank you

      2. Have you done an article on these two Distributors like the one above? If so can you direct me to where I can read it?

    1. As a large group of self-publishers, it is time to make demands on Apple about having to use their Mac to sell our books. Let’s get on them about it, numbers speak louder words!!

  56. Thanks for this excellent comparison between the two eBook stores. I’m planning to publish an eBook in the near future, so I’m researching the alternatives I have to do this. From what I read here, Apple seems to be more fair than Amazon with the commissions. I would definitely choose to sacrifice the exclusivity benefits on Amazon in order to be able to publish in both stores, as well as anywhere else I want to.

  57. Hi, Jimmy: I just wrote you an email re indie publishing and then saw this! I will read it and digest it. Thanks!

  58. Hi Giacomo,

    Great article. Thank you for simplifying this.

    I am trying to manage sales for my wife’s book…currently listed on Amazon for 70%. We are struggling to figure out how we get paid for thousands of pages read on the lending library….but from what i read, so are all the other authors out there.

    We are based in India and currently iBooks has not launched paid books here. Most of our sales on are on Amazon US though.

    But now we are going to try selling on iBooks and switch to 35% on Amazon. Will keep you posted on our experience.



  59. great article!
    big questions:
    1) i have a book in spanish from a major publisher, my rights now, so should I do Amazon exclusively to get the 70% in Mexico & Brazil or not, since you say I cannot set my own Mexican and Brazil price w Amazon, only Apple?
    This is a tricky if not contradictory position, is it not?
    2) same with other books of mine that might sell in India and Mexico, esp, and also Brazil. Amazon or Apple?
    3) I don’t understand the FREE thing. If I make a book free for a while, do I still get royalties on it from Amazon for all copies freely downloaded or freely borrowed?
    Much Thanks, Mr. G and others-
    La Jolla, Calif.

    1. Sorry for such a unforgivably slow reply, but I was out all of last year and early this year. I had two heart attacks and two strokes. Anyway, you can set the price via Amazon, but it may be ’rounded’ up in Mexico and Brazil based on exchange rates. with Apple, you can use local currency.

      As to free, if you offer a book free, no one pays you for it.

  60. Once again, an article claiming how important India and other nations are to your sales leaves out the most important fact: are the citizens of said country readers? In Mexico, they are not. Unless it’s the bible, your book isn’t going to sell lots of copies. Which brings up the question of whether or not Indians are readers. Just because it’s the 2nd most populated country on the planet doesn’t mean sales will be high. If they don’t read, few ereaders will be bought. Less ebooks will be too.

    1. Yes, they do read, Cheryl. I am an Indian, and ebooks are my salvation. Books of genres like Urban Fantasy and Science fiction rate at ₹2000 and above ( that’s paperback) in my country stores and with a app like moon reader on your smartphone, you can access the same book for ₹500. Consider the savings! So, we read a lot of ebooks. In fact, without ebooks, we won’t be able to read international books at all.

      And Giacomo: I’ll truly appreciate if apple lifted their restriction from Mac. Authors don’t like to be mistreated, and they are on Amazon. I’ll like to publish on Apple, but as of now, I don’t have any intention of buying a Mac just to publish on apple.

  61. Giacomo: allow me to add my voice to the chorus of appreciation and gratitude for your article, sir. A most validating read, given that much of what you (and many of your readers ) had to say summarized the many hours of online research I did before also concluding that an, “Apple First” policy seemed wise.

    Question: to take Michael Perry’s excellent post one step further, and given Tim Cook’s recent announcement that Apple Music would be made available on the Android platform, do you have any thoughts on how likely Apple is to also make the iBooks app cross-platform? To me, the logic for doing so parallels that of Apple Music (e.g. to increase market-share, to introduce non-Apple users to the Apple experience).

    Thank you most kindly!

    1. I would love to know, and like you, i think they should, but considering Google Books is making a stronger push I don’t know if it will happen. Like with all things, Apple is mum. We’ll have to wait and see.

  62. Great article! Thank you so much!

    This may be an ignorant question, but does Amazon’s exclusivity clause mean that I can’t publish anywhere else? That I can’t publish with Apple too?


  63. I was interested in this article until you stated India’s population is smaller than the US. It’s not. So how many other “facts” are wrong?

  64. I really enjoyed and learned a lot from this article. Rob C’s comment should be our mantra for today. He said that iBooks provides a “modern reading experience.” He refers to the ability in iBooks, lacking with Amazon, to put in video links and other links within the ebook, and how an ipad seems to display better quality color illustrations.
    But it’s that idea — a modern reading experience — and how shall we define it from the reader side, the author side, and the publisher side.

  65. Interesting take on the situation as someone who has gone from print publishing to e/i-publishing and been with Apple iBooks for about 4 years.

    I guess Amazon was never going to hold the entire monopoly (who had heard a Kobo at the millennium but who became the 2nd largest eBook outlet. As at about 2 years ago Apple was claiming 40% of the electronic book market. I first published with Apple iTunes Connect in about 2011. Was a challenging experience, (even with the registration process) – declined at first as you have to have an EIN number from the IRS.

    Having overcome this and then had problems with acceptance owing to submitting 3D covers which are unacceptable despite the capabilities of the iPad. .iba Format which has interesting induction into iBooks. Once registered the tools are made available, include formatted template to produce your contents. Including video and animation was yet another interesting skills set to develop. Pricing now is what you say but there was a string suggestion that a cartel type scenario existed and indeed the US Courts find Apple for this.

    Lessons hopefully learn the opportunities are boundless and worth considering. It was interested that Apple iBooks had a Team presence and table at the Indie Recon – (Indie Author) Conference – ALLi @ The Auditorium at Foyles where I had a extensive chat and despite iBooks being now a prominent part of Apple’s arsenal of products, it is the one and only product that it does not provide training for, (outside of material online), whereas for all other software in their range they provide regular training at their Apple Stores both around the UK and overseas.

    The fact that they made an appearance as a contingent at the conference seems to reinforce your overview of Apple’s attempt to increase their share in the market. If they get the support and customer care right for the iBooks as they do with other products then there is potentially a win-win situation and well worth indie authors considering widening the scope of their market.

  66. Could not possibly disagree more. Apple absolutely blows for selfpub authors.

    Takes for-freaking-ever to get through their first-pass review process, they very frequently fail a book without giving specifics (e.g., “doesn’t match our specification,” which could be anything from font size to line spacing to graphics file details). Even though you’ve gone down the iBooks checklist and verified every single spec requirement. When you try to reach someone there to *get* the specifics, that’s when the real fun begins.

    Their customer service/tech support is virtually non-existent and when you *can* get a human on the phone that person is not knowledgeable about the epub standard and can’t or won’t tell you what specific thing was wrong with your file. So you end up re-compiling and re-uploading and waiting weeks to months for a reply.

    If, by some miracle, you finally manage to get your book approved, they don’t bother to notify you in a timely manner. You just have to keep checking the store listings to see if it shows up.

    Finally, discoverability in the iBookstore is a joke. Unless you’re a bestselling author or one who’s being featured in some kind of promo, the only way anyone’s going to find your book in the iBookstore is via a direct link. I’ve published client books there, found them via a direct link, then tried searching by author name and book title and got bupkis.

    The iBookstore doesn’t have all the different category and genre lists Amazon and B&N and Smashwords do, nor do they have the very consumer-helpful “customers who bought this also bought” listings.

    I always tell anyone who asks my opinion not to bother with the iBookstore. It’s a huge, costly, time-consuming nightmare and even if you DO succeed, you’re not likely to ever sell enough copies there to justify whatever you had to pay in fees to an author services pro or hours of your own time and frustration.

    1. It’s a shame you feel that way, April. Though as mentioned in several other comments, all you need to do is distribute through Smashwords or Draft2Digital and you would have no fuss. And the Apple sales channel is viable for many. I sell quite a few books there, and last year, I sold about 10,000 books. That’s not a lot, but it’s nothing to sneeze about.

      I find Apple refreshing to deal with compared to Amazon, who attempts to control authors and coerce them into exclusivity.

      As for my own books, the first 5 i published directly with Apple, after that I used a distributor.

  67. Thanks for a marvelous comparison of Amazon and Apple. I’ll toss in some additional remarks:

    1. A ruling by the EU means that as of January 1, 2015, all EU member countries much charge their standard VAT (typically 15-25%) on ebook sales. A few countries such as France and Luxembourg were applying the discounted 3-5% print book VAT to ebooks. That had to end. The idea of differing VATs for print versus digital books is so absurd, it will probably be changed in the next year or two, but until that happens, authors need adapt.

    That matters because a VAT isn’t a sales tax. A sales tax is added to the retail price when an item is sold. A VAT is deliberately hidden inside the retail price. If you’ve got an ebook priced the equivalent of $3.99 in Euros, in some European countries, 25% of that price or about $1.00 goes to the government. The author and retailer then split the remaining $3 at their usual rates.

    In practice, that means that if an author wants to get the same per-sale income for an ebook sold in Europe as in the U.S., he must price it roughly 20% more and, given the fixed X.99 prices that retailers often demand, that typically means about 25% more.

    You can, of course, price your ebooks otherwise. But if you do so, you’re not winning the hearts and minds of Euro-readers. They still see that VAT-inflated price. In my case, I’ve raised prices about 25% to make apply my own microscopic pressure the the EU to end that VAT difference between print and digital books. Hopefully, I can drop those prices in the near future.

    2. The Amazon v. Apple distinction is built into their different business models.

    * Amazon makes its money from ebooks and sells its readers at or near cost. That means its incentive is to squeeze every penny it can out authors and publishers, hence those low royalties/commissions.

    * Apple makes its money on hardware given premium pricing. That’s why their software, including upgrades to OS X and iOS are free. That’s also why it pays creators 70% for apps, music and ebooks. A rich and healthy supply of those helps to sell its profitable hardware.

    3. The one glitch that’s holding back Apple’s ebook market growth is that money-from-hardware issue. It’s almost certainly making money from app, music, and ebook sales, just not as much as from iPhones etc. But even there, authors have reason to hope.

    The hope lies in an important distinction. Apps designed for OS X and iOS simply will not run on Windows machines or Android mobile devices. Apple has absolutely no reason to support the Android market.

    But ebooks are different. They’re far more like music than apps. Apple created an iTunes app for Windows so those with Windows computers who owned iPods or iPhones could buy music, manage it on Windows machines and play it on Apple devices.

    The same is true for ebooks. Some of those who’d buy an iPhone and get their ebooks from the iBookstore don’t do so because for work or other reasons they have Windows computers. They’re saying, “I’m going with Android mobile devices and Kindle ebooks because I can manage and read those ebooks with my Windows machine.”

    But if Apple simply ported iBooks to Windows, that argument would disappear. People who are not going to give up their Windows computer will then buy iPhones and ebooks from Apple. It’d a win for Apple. Note too that there’d be no reason for Apple to also port iBooks to Android devices. It never did that with iTunes music player and yet dominates the music market.

    4. There’s a solution to that Mac-only requirement for authors to upload ebooks if Apple would be willing to invest in it. That’d be to develop a platform-neutral, web-based interface for ebook uploads. It’s certainly doable. Amazon, Smashwords and others have just that. And given that Macs aren’t as common in other countries as they are in the U.S., it’s also attract more foreign authors and grow foreign sales. Maybe that’ll happen too.

    5. My suggest for authors, particularly authors fortunate enough to have an eager fan base, it to adopt an Apple first policy for the added income and flexibility. The steps would go like this.

    1. Release the iBooks version in epub.

    2. Begin publicizing the book.

    3. Perhaps release a similar epub version through Smashwords for B&N, Kobo etc.

    4. Then and only then begin to work on a version for Kindles. Amazon will accept an epub for conversion, so you might go that route. Otherwise, do what it takes to create the mobi and KF8 versions for Amazon. Don’t worry if that means a week or two delay. Remember, you want sales to go to Apple. Only bring out the Kindle version quickly enough to avoid upsetting Kindle diehards.

    Hope that helps!

  68. I’ve been distributing to Apple all along, but the problem is that it’s so darned hard to get any traction there.

    1. Most of the reader email-list advertisers cater to Amazon-only, and those few that do include Apple tend to be hard to get into.

    2. Even if you -do- throw money at them advertising exclusively to iOS system users (i.e. via Facebook ads), it’s a much lower conversion rate. I usually see the ‘echo’ on Amazon, not iBooks, even if I ONLY target iOS users and ONLY put in a direct link to iTunes.

    3. It’s -so- far to get all the way to the top to get visible there!!! Even if you -do- throw enough money at them to get a respectable amount of sales, it’s like shoveling excrement against the tide in that they have no sub-categories where you could get a little bit of visibility and then keep pulsing ads to stay there while you build a readership on their platform. You throw money at them. You make a few sales. And then the moment you kill the advertisement you drop like a rock. There are -NO- organic sales whatsoever. I can count out click-per-click each and every sale at iBooks, and with Facebook ads so expensive that means each sale cost me money.

    4. First one free gets you nowhere. See comment 3 above…

    Amazon built it’s global empire by using indie authors who are eager to find readers as their lost-leader, the supermarket $.19 cent bananas they advertise to get people into the supermarket. Only unlike Stop-and-Shop, Amazon isn’t the one paying for the bananas or the advertisements … -WE- are. All of their business strategies are geared towards getting traffic to their page so they can sell those customers other higher-margin products. And -WE- have advertised our hearts out, often spending 100% of our royalties one month to buy ads to stay visible the following month, just because they give us the carrot of those sub-sub-categories to get a few organic sales.

    If Apple wants to compete with Amazon, they need to reward us for sending our readers to their platform. All of my books have always been there, but I’ve gotten no traction with them whatsoever. Books that have sold thousands in a single month on Amazon have sold maybe, what, five, on iBooks even with targeted advertising? That has to change…

  69. I don’t have a Mac or iPhone, can I hire someone on Fiverr to publish my works via their Mac? I don’t want to give my royalties to middleman like D2D or Smashwords. How is the Tax information on Apple and Kobo? Just like on KDP?

  70. Thanks for an excellent post, Giacomo, very helpful indeed. Following your instructions, I found it a simple enough job to set up my profile and then upload the first of my books. Since I’d already published my Rare Traits Trilogy on Amazon as both an ebook and paperback, I simply converted the full-formatted docx file to an epub file using Calibre and Apple accepted it immediately. One concern was the 1Mb/sec upload speed since mine is a little slower. However, it wasn’t a problem.
    I was also concerned since my Apple account is in Hong Kong where iBooks only offer the classics, which is very irritating – there are many people in HK who would love to buy through iBooks, so why the neglect? Having said that, access to music is relatively recent, so I live in hope that books will appear someday.
    My main question is over the territories. You mention both China and India in your post, but neither is in my list of 51 territories – I do have 51, I’ve counted! So do we have different lists or am I missing something? I’d certainly like to offer my books in both places, and at low prices, so I’d be grateful for any further insight here.
    Thanks again; this route into Apple is far better than the Smashwords route which took many weeks for the books to appear.

    1. Hi, David. I mentioned India as one of the territories available through Amazon, and discussed percentages. To my knowledge, iBooks is not available in either country yet, but I’m sure that will happen soon, especially since device sales have been booming in China.

    1. Virginia, I should have clarified and said you cannot use a PC. I think I did mention that you could use a distributor, and if a person doesn’t have a Mac, that is my recommendation. Both Draft2Digital and Smashwords are excellent choices for getting books onto many platforms.

  71. From an interoperability point of view, Amazon is slightly better :

    While the file format is mobi against epub (officially interoperable) for Apple, Amazon leaves the publisher the choice of dismissing DRM, while Apple mandates their own flavor of DRM for all ebooks AFAIK

  72. Thank you for the interesting comparison. For my newly launched series of children’s books, creatively I am tempted to follow the Apple route. However Cassie Hayes (comment 7th Feb), has interesting points about reduced discoverability choosing this option. Therefore if I am to rely on the pro-active marketing of my website to obtain ebook sales, would I not be limiting such sales to those with ibook compatibility, or am I missing something?

    1. Keep in mind that Amazon’s “discoverability” is a zero-sum game. There’s only so much discoverability that Amazon can create without overwhelming customer eyeballs.

      Worst of all, Amazon has began to reveal hints that it intends to use its discoverability tools as a carrot and stick. Give it exclusivity, and you get more visibility—the carrot. Don’t give it exclusivity, and your books becomes almost invisible—the stick.

  73. Your comments about pricing for other countries really struck a chord. Of course, purchasing power is not the same, so why would I just convert from US dollars to the local currency? It might work on more well-to-do countries, such as UK and Canada, but it won’t work on poorer countries. It makes total sense, I just hadn’t thought about it.

    One problem I’m trying to solve with Amazon is that of VAT (I haven’t figured out how Apple deals with VAT, anyone knows?). Different European countries charge different VAT %s. The (potential) problem is that Amazon allows citizens of certain countries to shop in the marketplaces of other countries, and they will do price matching across these. So if I price a book lower on France (lower VAT), and higher on Germany (higher VAT), but Germans can by in France, then I’ll be selling at the France price to Germans. At least, that’s how I understand it (note that I am using France and Germany as lose examples: I can’t remember if those are two of the countries where cross-selling can occur).
    So I’ve decided to charge the same amount across all of Europe regardless of VAT. Partly because I’m not sure Europeans think of VAT of even realize at a conscious level that it is there.

    As for Apple and MACs, I prefer to own one. For about $200 I purchased a used one a few years ago from a college student that realized a PC was a better choice. I don’t like MACs and have a hard time with the user interface, so I enable remote access and installed http://www.tightvnc.com/ on my PC. Flip open the MAC lid, copy my files to the MAC through the network, use TightVNC to control the MAC desktop; do all the work from my PC (you’ll need a geek to get something like this setup).

    1. Amazon and Apple took differing paths for the EU-VAT pricing problem that struck on January 1 of this year.

      * Amazon, with its a ‘we are in control’ philosophy, automatically adjusted ebook prices upward to take into account those changes in the VAT. There did seem to be some strange logic involved though. For my books, UK prices in pounds weren’t raised nearly as much as those in EU countries.

      * Apple, with its ‘have it your way’ philosophy, made no changes to prices. Authors and publishers had to make their own adjustments. I had some glitches with the bulk-change process that should have allowed me to change all Euro prices at once. Unable to find a workaround, I ending up changing the prices by hand. Not good, but not the end of the world either. I prefer Apple’s ‘have it your way.’

      Don’t forget that the large slide in the Euro’s conversion rate to U.S. dollars mean that authors in the U.S. are going to see less dollar income from the same number of sales.

      For many authors it may be simpler to consider overseas sales as like icing on the cake and not fret about these changing VATs and conversion rates.

      I also second those who like to set prices lower in low-income countries than high-income. One of the advantages of digital is that there are no fixed print costs to force a retail price below which a book cannot go. You can charge prices low enough to encourage sales country by country.

      1. There is no VAT on books in the UK (unlike most of the rest of the EU. That’s why your UK prices didn’t jump as much as other European prices when the VAT was factored in.

  74. I’m a PC user, but I do have an iPad. I don’t believe in being exclusive either, which is why I now put all my ebooks everywhere I can. For Apple, I used to upload to SW but now to D2D as they are much faster at distributing it. My last ebook only took them half a day to distribute.

    1. Julie, there shouldn’t be any difference between uploading to Apple using Smashwords or Draft2Digital. Both of them send books to Apple mulitple times a day. My most recent book, using Smashwords, uploaded same day (within a few hours). And both are great companies to work with.

      The differences you might see or hear about can usually be attributed to the time of day you might have uploaded, how busy Apple was that day, etc.

  75. I’m a PC user, but I rent a “MacinCloud” to upload my books to Apple. I pay by the hour and had to buy a minimum of 30 hrs ($30) which is about what I paid someone to upload my first one for me before I heard of MacinCloud. It was tricky at first because I was unfamiliar with Mac screens, buttons, and how they are fond of drag & drop. But now that I’ve done it a few times, it’s really easy.

  76. My book is non-fiction. I chose Apple exclusively because (a) colour illustrations/photos/paintings look beautiful on an iPad, not on most kindles (b) iBooksAuthor allows galleries of images, plus moving maps, graphs and movies, and links to YouTube videos and external URLs, plus samples from iTunes (to “illustrate” musical references), and links between chapters inside the book, and (c) it is a large book 1 Gb and easy(ish) and cheap to load via iBooks.
    BUT like Cassie says, it is difficult to browse the iBooks shelves and discover my book. I am now reformatting my book and reducing its image content to get it onto other formats esp Amazon. But my heart is not in it because it will not be a modern reading experience.

  77. The biggest problem with iBooks is discoverability. Amazon’s also-boughts are a powerful tool, even if you’re not in Select. There is almost no organic discoverability on iBooks, so there’s almost no chance someone would just happen upon my books there. They have to either actively search for them or click a direct link that I (or possibly a friend) supplies. If iBooks incorporated also-boughts (or their ‘hip’ version of it), I think they could be a real contender.

    1. Cassie, I don’t know how others search/browse for books, but when I go to the ibooks store i simply choose my category, sub-category, then browse. I actually find it a more pleasant experience than Amazon because all of the books are listed on one page.

      Aside from browsing, I agree that Apple has some catching up to do re: discoverability, but I think that’s coming. They purchased Booklamp last year. It was a small company dedicated to book discoverability with well-respected technology. With Apple’s resources, I think they’ll do some great things with it.

      1. I have similar difficulty in finding my books in iBookstore as Cassie. Giacomo, do you think that when you are browsing books in this way, you are presented the most popular titles? On iBookstore there is no chance for any internal mechanism that would lift your book except the sales rank and “newly added” attribute. All what you can do is to create some marketing “buzz” about your book elsewhere.
        Amazon has such facilities.
        (To be fair: I definitely prefer to sell my non-fiction, >60MB books on iBookstore than in Amazon. It gives me 100% more per book. However, so far I sold most of my books on Amazon, because of its better discoverability).

  78. Much to think about here. Thanks for the thoughtful article.

    I pay my formatter a small fee to upload to Apple for me, even though I have a Mac. Once she’s done that, I have control over changes.

    1. John: You can’t use an iPad (unless something has changed recently). But there are plenty of options. You can access a Mac at a library, or through a friend, or use the “rent a mac” program on the Internet, or simply use a distributor/aggregator like Smashwords or Draft2Digital, or anyone you choose. If you use a distributor, you’ll pay about 15% of your portion of the commissions, so instead of earning 70% on each book, you’ll earn 60%. That’s not a bad deal for what you get.

  79. That’s a great point about pricing lower for countries like India and Brasil. I have sold books there so I will definitely apply your price thing since your UK and US prices are about in line with mine. Have to say, I have a kindle keyboard, which I love for reading outdoors in summer on holiday but I do all the rest with a kindle app or iBooks on an iPad.



  80. Kev: Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you’re doing well on borrows. There is no question that Amazon is still the one that generates the most sales (for most people), but I don’t like their policy on exclusivity. I strongly believe it is bad for business overall. Each person has to determine if it’s right for them, though. That’s what it’s all about.

    One more thing: as to Lulu, I would NOT encourage anyone to use Lulu to get their book into Apple or anywhere else. There are far better choices, like Smashwords and Draft2Digital among others. You might want to read our report on Lulu, if you’re interested in more detail.

  81. An interesting perspective, however there are a couple of issues. Firstly, as far as I’m aware, Apple has no facility for allowing books to be borrowed. Amazon does, and it pays authors for each borrow – that represents significant income for me.

    Secondly, although it’s true that Amazon only allows one promotion per 90 day Select period, that promotion is actually very powerful because Amazon markets your book for you by placing it in their Countdown Deals. Not only is the book more visible, it also gets the countdown period added to its detail page, encouraging sales. I see sales bumps of around 5x overall and I make around 3x as much in cash terms.

    When you add these two income streams together with the greater sales volumes Amazon offers, Select is still a compelling offer for me. That’s not to say I won’t be keeping an eye on it.

    Finally, it’s relatively simple to have an ebook distributed to Apple if you use a service such as Lulu.com to handle it. Although, in that case, they take a cut.

  82. PC users can gain access to Producer through Macincloud. It allows them to rent time in the cloud for uploads. iConnect can then be used on PCs to manage your IP. Also, there are companies that will do the uploading for PC authors, who can then manage their IP on iConnect. 🙂

    1. Hi, can you let me know any of the company details who upload for you. This is a minefield to me as a new author!. Jayne.

    1. Michael, you’re like me. You hate the hassle of uploads.

      But you might want to look into Smashwords. With an easy UI and but one set of uploads, it can place those “less important books” with a host of retailers including Apple, B&N and Kobo. Uploads are free and the only cost is giving Smashwords about 10% of that added income.

      1. FANTASTIC IDEA — but how many readers will get a chance to see the Smashwords account? Most people haven’t heard of them. Plus, can you also upload pictures for your books?

  83. Hmm – a lot to think about here, and a great post. I’ve been Amazon exclusive until now and think I’ve been seduced by the fact I’m getting as many borrows through KU as sales, but this has me re-considering that decision. As you say, Jim, Amazon is a *lot* more complicated to upload to. I have registered an account, but even that took me some time. I need to take a breath before I think about uploading a book. Apple suffers from the same problem as the Microsoft web sites – it’s a company run by geeks, and geeks don’t understand how complicated stuff can appear to the rest of the world.

    1. David, actually Amazon is far easier to upload to, and easier to get set up with in general. Once you go through the process with Apple it’s easy after that, but the beginning is more difficult.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Latest advice, news, ratings, tools and trends.

Back To Top
×Close search