UX & Web Design tutorial: Twelve ways to publish to the iPad

With the decline in print publishing, and the rapid expansion in digital, how do smaller publishers go about getting their content onto the iPad platform? We view twelve solutions.

It is clear that publishing to devices like the iPad is becoming essential to survival. Bloomsbury is on course to make around a quarter of its revenue from ebooks in 2011 and Amazon.com is selling more ebooks than paperbacks in the US.

The secret to successful digital publishing is creating something beyond the mere text of ebooks, however. Forrester analyst James McQuivey predicts that e-ink readers like the Kindle will become less important as manufacturers bring out tablet computers, and that once that shift happens, books and magazines will need to be more interactive.

However, despite impressive first sales of iPad magazines such as Wired, sales of further digital magazines have declined. In addition, publishers balked at the costs and time required to create such titles. Luckily, the landscape is changing, as Adobe and Quark introduce their own tools to create digital titles.

But how do you get started within this new technology? We look at 12 solutions.

Publishing for the iPad


It is clear that publishing to devices like the iPad is becoming essential to survival. Bloomsbury is on course to make around a quarter of its revenue from ebooks in 2011 and Amazon.com is selling more ebooks than paperbacks in the US.

The secret to successful digital publishing is creating something beyond the mere text of ebooks, however. Forrester analyst James McQuivey predicts that e-ink readers like the Kindle will become less important as manufacturers bring out tablet computers, and that once that shift happens, books and magazines will need to be more interactive.

However, despite impressive first sales of iPad magazines such as Wired, sales of further digital magazines have declined. In addition, publishers balked at the costs and time required to create such titles. Luckily, the landscape is changing, as Adobe and Quark introduce their own tools to create digital titles.

But how do you get started within this new technology? We look at 12 solutions.

1. App Studio for Quark

STEP 1

Price: £2,500 App Studio for Quark Publishing System; £309 per single issue with sliding scale depending on number of issues

Website: www.quark.com

For publishers using QuarkXPress to create layouts for print, Quark’s new App Studio allows you to take your Quark files and produce applications for the iPad easily. Existing Quark users can try the App Studio for free; and can preview publications using Quark’s Preview App on the iPad; or within the iOS Simulator on the Mac. There is no monthly subscription and Quark doesn’t take a cut from App Store sales.


2. MagCloud

STEP 2

Price: 30 per cent cut of sales

Website: www.magcloud.com/Digital

Created initially to print magazines on demand, MagCloud (a self-publishing web service from HP) now includes digital versions. While you have to create your publications to its specifications for print – essentially to the confinements of a US Letter-size page – you can easily sell both digital and print magazines without any upfront cost. iPad users can download your magazines through the MagCloud app via the App Store; and payment is made to you via PayPal on a monthly basis subject to your commission reaching $10.

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3. RovingBird ePublisher

STEP 3

Price: €1,000 (£884) Standard plus €250 (£221) to build iPad app or €500 (£442) to build and submit iPad app; €5,000 (£4,415) Advanced; €10,000 (£8,833) Enterprise

Website: www.rovingbird.com

RovingBird’s ePublisher is a plug-in for InDesign CS5 that allows you to add interactive elements to an InDesign file. Whether you’re looking to include external links, a photo slideshow or audio/video, the plug-in makes it easy. When you’ve got the content together, you can export the book file for the iPad; build the iPad app then preview the end result on screen.


4. Adobe Digital Publishing Suite

STEP 4

Price: On request (Enterprise); $495/month (£297) plus annual commit fee of $5,500 (£3,367) for 25,000 downloads; $37,500 (£22,958) for 250,000 downloads; $60,000 (£36,742) for 500,000 downloads

Website: www.adobe.com/digitalpublishing

Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite allows you to upload content directly from InDesign CS5 to produce digital publications. You can organise layouts on the web to create production-ready files. Files are stored within the Adobe .folio format on a fulfilment server, and then delivered to the Adobe Content Viewer app on mobile devices, including via the App Store. Analytics are available showing the performance of your content; and you can create an own-branded Content Viewer to suit your publication. The Adobe solution is at the heart of the Wired magazine app.


5. Lulu eBook publishing

STEP 5

Price: $99 (£61) ePub creation service; free create ePub yourself

Website: www.lulu.com

If you’re looking at creating books rather than magazines, there are benefits to choosing ePub over PDF. When publishing via ePub you can sell into the iBookstore and provide books with scalable text. If you create the ePub yourself – using a tool such as eCub – you don’t have to pay anything up front, and submitting to the iBookstore is automated via LuLu too.

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6. iBuildApp

STEP 6

Price: Free

Website: www.ibuildapp.com

iBuildApp is an online tool for those looking to self-publish apps, particularly for the iPhone and iPad. It allows you to bring together HTML, RSS feeds, Media files, Events, News, Photo Albums and more using an entirely web-based interface. You can then build an iPhone-compatible app and submit it to the App Store through the online system.


7. AuthorMob

STEP 7

Price: Free preview only; $499 (£306) app author size – 1-10 ebooks; $999 (£612) publisher size – 11-100 ebooks

Website: www.authormob.com

At its most basic, AuthorMob provides a means to convert ebooks into iPhone and iPad-friendly apps. At a more advanced level, it also lets you add photos, videos, bios and virtually anything else via the AuthorMob web-based app builder. You can send timed geotargeted messages to your readers using push notifications. One hundred are included within the app price; after that a charge of $0.01 per message applies.


8. Woodwing Enterprise Publishing System

STEP 8

Price: €5,000 (£4,417) software system; €1,000 (£884) reader app; €250 (£221) per month for content delivery service

Website: www.woodwing.com

In common with most of the other solutions here, WoodWing uses InDesign as the starting point and a web-based interface as the end point when it comes to building your application. WoodWing has been used to create the App Store variant of Popular Science magazine; which sold more than 10,000 subscriptions in its first five weeks.

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9. Smashwords

STEP 9

Price: 40 per cent of selling price

Website: www.smashwords.com

Smashwords is an Apple-approved content aggregator for the iBook store. This means that the company has signed a contract with Apple to provide ebooks for resale through the iBook store. The specialism for Smashwords is in the name – words; so the ebooks you create cannot include anything that would not normally be in an ePub file. For full details, go to www.smashwords.com/about/how_to_publish_ipad_ebooks.


10. Self-publish via PDF

STEP 10

Price: Cost of PDF software

Website: n/a

You can self-publish via PDF easily. Create your layout using Pages, InDesign, Quark or similar; including internal links to the document pages so you can navigate your way around the book; export to PDF then upload via FTP to your own web space. To monetise the content, create a PayPal ‘pay’ button to receive money then send the download link to the purchaser via email.


11. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

STEP 11

Price: Share of revenue

Website: kdp.amazon.com

Amazon’s Kindle is an increasingly popular means of viewing content in book, newspaper or magazine form. A Kindle app exists for the iPad and opens up another market to which you can sell. You can submit files for selling via the Kindle Store in Word, Text or HTML format. For magazines and newspapers you can submit content in XML format (this service is currently in beta). The Kindle Store is well established and there are no up-front costs involved.

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12. TapLynx

STEP 12

Price: $1,198 (£734) for iPad; $599 (£367) for iPhone; plus $99 (£61) for an iPhone developer account

Website: www.taplynx.com

TapLynx, rather than being a plug-in for InDesign or Quark, is a means by which you can create iPhone or iPad apps without needing to learn how to code first. It provides a framework that you can use within Xcode 3.2.3 or later; and includes full guidance on what you need to do to create the perfect app, then how to customise for best results. The end result will look similar to the Macworld app for the iPhone.


Which way to go?

STEP 13

Despite the advances in digital publishing, there’s a long way to go before the printed page becomes obsolete. It’s not always convenient to take a web-ready device with you everywhere you go.

If you’re producing material in paperback- book form, and are looking to sell to the world without incurring huge production costs, ebooks (and the ePub file format in particular), will allow you to do just that. Amazon’s Kindle Store accepts uploads of Word files and will help with the production of the end ePub into a format accepted by the Kindle. The iPad/iPhone-owning audience can then download them once they’ve downloaded the Kindle app.

For more complicated layouts, one of the PDF-based technologies has the distinct advantage. With HP’s MagCloud there’s no upfront cost for production, and despite the printed copies being expensive (at around £12 for a 100-page title), the digital downloads are extremely cost-effective and you’ll make money on the deal either way.

There are templates and advice for producing compatible PDFs at www.magcloud.com/help/indesign and www.magcloud.com/help/quark. Guidance is also provided for producing files using other programs such as Pages; if you can work to a Letter-size page you can produce a document for use with MagCloud.

As an example, see www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/98676. This is a document that started out as A4; was resized to Letter, and published. The digital download is free, so you can try it within the MagCloud app on the iPad.


About the Author: David Bradforth

STEP 14

David Bradforth is a technology journalist from London.

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