Showing posts with label Apple. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Apple. Show all posts

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Why iBooks for Mac Matters (Goodbye, PDF!)

We folks who create ebooks have been waiting for iBooks for Mac for a long time as a testing tool. Copying EPUB files from one device to another is a hassle and being able to see a book right where you've created it is frankly, this side of wonderful.

But of course, we #eprdctn people are not at all the point. Apple's release of iBooks for Mac in its new Mavericks operating system is a huge step for ebooks and EPUB because it makes EPUB available where people want to use it: on their desktops. The fact that this is the very same format—and the very same files—that works in their ereaders and tablets is icing on the cake.

Have you ever tried to send someone an ebook? It's not fun. Most normal people out in the world have never heard of EPUB and if you start explaining how to download a Firefox extension or make them buy a program to open it, they'll smile (if you're lucky) and go do something else.

Up until now, if you wanted someone to be able to open an ebook easily, you sent it in PDF format. And frankly, PDF is a dead end. It works ok on a computer, but it's miserable for reading on smaller devices. (No apologies to you PDF folks, sorry, and don't flame me in the comments. I don't care that on some Android devices, a PDF is slightly readable. I want an open, universal, flexible, standard format, and that's EPUB.)

What's PDF's great advantage? After years of downloading Adobe Acrobat Reader, most people have it on their computers, and when they double-click a PDF, something miraculous happens: it opens.

The last Pew Research Center poll about ebook reading (April 2012) says that more people read ebooks on their computers than on any other devices. In fact, 42% of the Americans who had read an ebook had read it on their computers, similar to the 41% who read on black and white ereaders, 29% on cell phones, and 23% on tablets. And that was 18 months ago, in the US.

In Spain in 2012, just to give one example in Europe, 55.8% of ebook readers use a computer to read their ebooks, compared with only 6.6% who use ereaders. According to the Spanish Publishers Guild only 9.7% even own an ereader. (I wished they gathered data about mobile phone reading, but they don't.)

At any rate, until Mavericks, if they were reading on a computer, they were reading in PDF. But Apple changes that. Not only has Apple released a fairly decent EPUB reader—that supports both EPUB2 and EPUB3, and both fixed and flowing formats—the most important thing is that iBooks for Mac is included in the Mavericks installation automatically.

That means people don't have to even know iBooks exists. You send them an EPUB file, they double-click it, and it opens.

open iBooks

ibooks open

Pure magic. They can read all kinds of ebooks, as large or small as they like, with JavaScript, audio, video, media overlays (read aloud), and in Asian languages with right-to-left page progression where necessary. It just works.

Now, why was that so hard?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Quick iBooks for Mac preview

Update: Several people have reported to me that iBooks for Mac does not support pop-up footnotes. Hopefully that's a bug that will be fixed soon!

Although there have been ebook readers for the Mac for some time, I was very pleased to hear that Apple's new operating system (Mavericks) includes iBooks for the Mac—which in contrast with most other desktop ereaders (except Readium) supports both flowing and fixed layout and both EPUB 2 and EPUB 3 format ebooks. Since iBooks is free and installed automatically, this means that Mavericks users will be able to double-click an EPUB file from the desktop—or an email message—and have it open right up.

EPUB files with iBooks icon

I was very anxious to see what iBooks might look like on the Mac. But I'm not so foolhardy as to install a brand new operating system on my computer while I'm finishing up a couple of big projects, so I installed it on my daughter's computer instead! I thought I'd give you a quick rundown of what I found.

First, you don't have to install iBooks separately, it comes included with Mavericks. I found it on the dock: an orange circle with an open book.

iBooks on Dock

When I opened it up, it immediately asked me to sign in with my AppleID—it feels like you can't go anywhere these days without identification. I find it a bit oppressive, especially since I wasn't on my own computer. And though it let me log in, I couldn't download any of my purchased books because I had already authorized five computers and this wasn't one of them. So I went and deauthorized them all and then reauthorized this one only to be warned that if I downloaded books from this particular AppleID account, I wouldn't be able to download items from a different AppleID account (e.g., my daughter's, who owns the computer) for 90 days. I didn't think she'd be very happy with me, so I didn't do it. I tried creating a separate user and then opened iBooks again, but got the same error. So I opted not to download any of my already purchased books.

AppleID

This was frustrating to me. I should be able to access my purchases on any device to which I log in, whether or not someone else also has an account there. This means iBooks doesn't really work in the cloud—it only works on your personal devices on the cloud, not at the library, or at the vacation house you rented, or on the computer you borrowed from your daughter.

For testing purposes, however, I don't have any trouble getting my hands on other EPUB documents. I chose an EPUB3 flowing book, and EPUB3 fixed layout book with JavaScript, and a fixed layout book with EPUB2-style read aloud.

To load them into iBooks you choose not File > Open Book (which remains stubbornly grayed out, and refers to opening a book that's already in iBooks), but rather File > Add to Library. You can add a few by command- or shift-clicking multiple items in the dialgo box. Click the Add button and you'll see them listed in your library screen.

Library, showing title and author

If you've logged in with your AppleID, you'll also see any books that you'd previously purchased, with tantalizing cloud icons in their upper right corners. Display the books' authors and titles by choosing "Show Title & Author" from the Sort By menu in the upper right corner of the Library window.

Let's look first at the flowing book (double-click to open). I used What's up with Catalonia? (a recent collection of essays from leading Catalan leaders and thinkers on the independence movement there).

The default view is a two-page spread. The cover is shown on the left-hand side, which in my case, shifted the copyright page to the right-hand page, and the title page to the left-hand page, an effect I didn't like much. But of course, there's not a lot of control with a flowing book, so I bit my tongue.

You can switch to a one-page view by choosing View > Single Page or by simply dragging the right edge of the page to make the layout narrower. iBooks will let you view a narrow single page, or you can drag it out to make it wider.

flowingbook-1
flowing book 2
flowing book 3

If you get too wide, iBooks will first add white margins around the text, and finally it will shift to a two-page layout to keep the text from displaying on excessively long lines. You'd think you could choose View > Two Pages to go to the two-page spread view, but although it was automatically chosen when I pulled the layout out manually, it was always grayed out, and I couldn't ever choose it. Looks like a bug.

flowing book 4
flowingbook 5
flowing book 6

Click the full-screen option (diagonal arrows in the right top corner to fill the window with the screen, which means a two-page spread with moderately wide paragraphs and ample margins.

flowing book 8

Make the text larger with Command-+, and then make it smaller with Command-–.

flowing book 10

And yes, you can make the text sufficiently large so that a full-view contains only a single page.

flowing book 9

But you can't make it so small as to force a third page.

Turn pages either by clicking the arrows that appear when you hover over the right or left edges of the page, or perhaps more easily by clicking the right and left arrows on your keyboard.

page arrows

Consult a dictionary for the definition of a word by double-clicking the word in question.

dictionary

If you select a phrase or two, you can choose to highlight (or underline) the text for further reference, add a note, copy it, look it up in the dictionary, search the web or Wikipedia, or post the selected text to Facebook, Twitter, send it in a Message or Email, or (with Start Speaking) read the selection out loud.

iBooks for Mac options

iBooks appends a link to the excerpt's book on the iBookstore, but that link only works if the copy came from the actual copy of the book on the iBookstore (and not a local version).

excerpt notes

If you already know you want to highlight, hold down the Command key while you're selecting text.

iBooks won't let you copy more than a few paragraphs of text at a time, presumably for copyright reasons.

You can see the contents of a note in two ways. First, you can click the little note icon next to the highlighted text itself. Or you can view all your notes and highlighted text by clicking the small page icon on the left side of the window. The notes will be organized by chapter—as long as the book is in EPUB3 format with a proper NAV document. If the ebook is in EPUB2 document, the notes are displayed in chronological order, which seems a lot less useful, to be honest. You can jump to the referenced section in the book by clicking the page number next to the note.

iBooks notes

You can consult the Table of Contents by clicking the bulleted list icon in the upper-left corner. Note that the chapter currently being viewed will be highlighted in blue. (Curiously, this works for both EPUB2 and EPUB3 documents.)

TOC

OK, how about Fixed Layout?

I opened up my Monarch Butterfly Book to see how iBooks for Mac would do. The Monarch Butterfly Book is EPUB3. I felt compelled to jump to Full Screen view right away so the photography-filled book wasn't lost among the myriad windows on my screen. You can always choose View > Thumbnails, click the little Thumbnails icon, or press Comand Shift T to make the handy page thumbnails appear at the bottom of the screen. Click on a page to jump there.

FixedLayout-1

All of the JavaScript effects in the book worked just fine, including transitions and animations, scripts, and more. Again, use the right and left arrows for navigating (or the thumbnails), and the mouse to click.

You can also set bookmarks for fixed layout books. And once you have, you'll see them listed when you click the bookmarks menu.

There are two related things that annoyed me about iBooks rendering of fixed layout: you can't show a single page, and you can't zoom in to a book. My Monarch Butterfly Book has high resolution photos but you can't zoom in to see the details like you can on the iPad or iPhone.

One solution is to create a single image out of two pages (half of the image is on each page), like I do in Barcelona Beyond Gaudí: (If you were specifically targeting an EPUB to a laptop audience, you could also be careful with the aspect ratio so that it better fit a horizontal orientation.)

one image with two pages

Read Aloud, and Right-to-Left Page Progression

My manga.epub example is an EPUB 3 fixed layout book with Japanese writing and right-to-left page progression. I'm happy to report that iBooks for Mac displayed it perfectly, including the proper highlighting of the words when the Read Aloud media overlay was invoked. You can double-click words to have iBooks restart the reading from that point.

iBooks for Mac Read Aloud_Japanese

Another interesting thing is that you can have multiple books open at the same time. This is obviously useful for readers, but I can see it coming in very handy for testing and production work as well.

iBooks-multiple books

Finally, I should call your attention to iBooks' preferences, where users can choose whether to force text justification (regular line endings on the right side of the page) or let the lines divide naturally, and/or whether to allow hyphenation. I haven't yet tested whether these settings override or are overridden by settings in an EPUB document itself.

Users can also choose to sync bookmarks, highlights, and collections across devices, but it didn't work for my manually uploaded books. I suspect it only works for books purchased from the iBookstore.

I'd love to hear if you find out anything else interesting about iBooks for Mac. Overall, I'm pretty pleased. It's great to have a free program on the Mac that people can read EPUB ebooks with.




Tuesday, June 18, 2013

InDesign CC - Embedding Fonts

One of the most appreciated improvements to InDesign with the new Creative Cloud edition is that it finally embeds fonts in a way that iBooks understands. Let's take a look.

In InDesign, there is always some font chosen for text. You can't have "none". When you export a book to EPUB, the default is for InDesign to "Include Embeddable Fonts"

EPUB Export Options

The problem is that InDesign CS 6 doesn't do it right. Whether it's Adobe's fault or Apple's or the IDPF's, I've never been quite sure, but the truth is that there were two major problems: the font didn't get obfuscated properly and InDesign didn't account for iBooks' idiosyncracies (read: non-standard font requirements).

So, given this InDesign document:

InDesign

InDesign CS 6 exports a file to EPUB that looks like this in iBooks:

IDCS6-EPUB

My design surely lacks penache (it was designed to take advantage of the fonts that were available on the iPad in 2010), but if that's what I want, that's what I want InDesign to give me.

Now InDesign CC does. Notice both the Bradley Script for the headers and the Optima for the body text.

IDCC=fonts

I heard that it finally got the obfuscation right (or in accordance with Apple), but the coding news is that it also caters to Apple's requirement of including the com file in the META-INF folder.

9

And here's what it looks like on the inside:

com.apple.ibooks.display-options.xml

Apple's com file is totally non-standard (that is, not part of the EPUB3 spec), but regardless, if you want fonts to work in iBooks with an EPUB 2 file, that's what you need, and I think Adobe made a great decision by including that file automatically so we don't have to crack open the EPUB to add it ourselves. Since the com file doesn't affect other ereaders or validation, there's nothing to be lost in adding it, and everything to be gained.

Note that I said EPUB 2, but InDesign CC actually includes the com file in EPUB 3 exports as well. That's not perfect—since Apple now follows the spec for declaring font usage in a meta element in EPUB 3—but it still works and better yet doesn't break anything. And given Adobe's dedicated support for EPUB lately, I'm confident that they'll roll the new behavior into InDesign CC soon.

One small caveat: remember that if you have Preserve Local Overrides unchecked and you've applied fonts with an override, then you shouldn't be surprised if the fonts don't make it to the EPUB file.



Thursday, April 11, 2013

How much did you sell on the Apple iBookstore?

Did you get a whole new slew of Apple iTunes Connect reports yesterday in your email inbox?

Inbox

I did. They're pretty useless. Each one simply reminds me to go download the full report from iTunes Connect. And I get a separate one for each currency in which I've sold books. It would be nice if I just got a single email, perhaps detailing which currencies.

So, then you head over to iTunes Connect. I always go first to Sales and Trends, only to remember, a few glacial seconds later, that I have to download the reports from Payments and Financial Reports. Click the Earnings Tab and you'll see a long list of documents to download, one for each currency and for each month. Ugh.

iTunes Earnings 1Q2013

As you can see, my earnings on the iBookstore are paltry. Good thing I sell books elsewhere! This is certainly due to a combination of my books being very niche categories (extreme EPUB and Catalonia!) but I'm certainly willing to lay some blame at Apple's door. I wish they would beef up the iBookstore and make it a place that was friendly to book buyers. They do a number of things right: being available in the largest number of countries, creating the best ereader software (iBooks), and more, but the store just isn't up to snuff. It needs search desperately. It needs reviews, and ways to share, and comment. Anyways.

When you click those download buttons in the right column, you get gzipped files (who knows why!?) for each individual period. Before you proceed, count up the ones in the list and count the ones you downloaded just to make sure you haven't missed any. (I always miss a couple.) Then, double-click each one to unzip. I wish, oh I wish, that I could choose the period myself! Maybe I want a single period, maybe I want all the data for a year.

When you open the files up in a text editor, you'll see that they are partly a tab delimited collection of sales data, but with totals at the end.

Apple report file

That first line contains the field titles, and the second line is a sales record. If there were more sales records, there would be additional lines. Each field is separated with a tab (shown here by a triangle). Those sums at the end will mess up my database, so I eliminate them.

But this data on its own is not that interesting. What I want is to be able to compile the sales data from each currency and indeed each month into a single report. This is where FileMaker comes in.

I created a database with FileMaker into which I can import Apple's files, and then generate reports that tell me how many books I've sold, and which months and countries I've sold them in. If you're a subscriber, you'll have received a free download link.

Before importing, remember to make a backup of the FileMaker database, and to have removed the total lines from the Apple reports, as described above. If your fields have accented characters, I also recommend saving them with a Mac Roman character encoding. It's a hassle, but it will ensure that those characters are properly read into FileMaker.

Then choose File > Import Records > File in FileMaker. Choose an Apple report and click Open.

Import Field Mapping

In the Import Field Mapping box, first make sure that each of the Field Titles matches the corresponding Field in the database. Click Add new records, and also Don't import first record (contains field names), since that is precisely the case with the Apple records. Then click Import.

You will see that a record is created for each title that has been sold in that currency,during that period.

Import all of the new Apple sales record files. The hardest part of this step is not importing the same file twice! (I've tried saying the name of the file out loud—paying attention to the two-letter key at the end of the code—and also looking at the just-imported file in FileMaker just before choosing the new one. Maybe this is easier for some people?)

Once you've got all the data in my FileMaker database, the rest is easy. I've got automated scripts for creating lists, as shown here.

Scripts

Here are some samples. Note that they're very simple, and they don't have titles. This is because there are only three layouts that serve the eight lists. But they work.

For example, here's what the list "By Currency, Title, Country, Period" looks like. This first page corresponds to first page of the sales in Australian Dollars, but has summaries for each period, for each country, and for each title. With currencies that are used in multiple countries, like the euro, the country section is more interesting.

AppleSales2012

And here is the report created with the Script "By Title, Period, Currency":

AppleSales2012

This page corresponds to the sales of a single title, with summaries for each period, and for each currency. Notice that only the estimated conversion to dollars is subtotaled, since it wouldn't make sense to sum different currency amounts.

And so on. I'm not a FileMaker developer, so I'm sure if you are, you could do this more beautifully. But it works, and indeed gives a much clearer and more complete view of your Apple iBookstore sales. I'm happy to share the database (without my data, obviously) to all my subscribers for free. Or you can buy it separately for $5. Use at your own risk!

Apple's new monthly and yearly reports

As so often happens, just as I was writing this blog post, I got an email from iTunes Connect letting me know that the Sales and Trends module of iTunes Connect had been improved. And that now I could download sales data for the whole year. I was very excited, but alas, it has a major flaw: if you download a yearly report, it doesn't give you the date for each sale; for example, all of the 2012 sales are are marked "December 31, 2012". So if you want a very summarized view of your sales, it might be helpful, but it's not sufficient for my purposes.

The one thing that is in those monthly reports through the Sales and Trends module that you won't find in the Payments and Financial Reports section is data about how many free books you're giving away. That is essential information if you're using free books as a hook to get people to look at your books for sale. I don't have a database set up for that yet (mostly because it would require downloading each monthly report from the Sales module), but I hope to offer that to you in the future.

How do you find those reports? It took me a while, and I even called the iTunes Connect hotline to ask for help (1-877-206-2092 in the US, and there are numbers in other countries as well). They answered almost immediately, but unfortunately said that they didn't know how to do it either! After I rummaged around a bit more, I figured it out:

Start in the Sales and Trends module. Click the Sales tab in the upper-right corner of the window.

iTunes Connect-Sales

Next, click the date and choose monthly, yearly, and then the actual month or year you're interested it.

iTunes Connect-yearly

Then click Download. And you get one of those marvelous g-zipped files, that when unzipped is a tab-delimited set of data (distinct from those downloaded from Payments and Financial Reports.

What could Apple do better?

What I want is a single place where I can choose the period (from all my sales, to monthly, yearly or whatever I want), and then export all the data at once, in a single file. And I want all the data: which book, how many copies, which country, which currency, and on which date. It's not hard. Lots of other distributors offer such tools.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Links to Maps from iBooks

A reader asks what happens with the Map links in the Barcelona Beyond Gaudí book now that iOS no longer has the Google Maps app. It's a good question, so I thought I'd answer it here.

In the Barcelona Beyond Gaudí book, I targeted the map request to Google:

<p><a href="#left" id="caption">A spiral decoration on the gates to Sant Pau Hospital. </a><a href="http://maps.google.com/maps/?q=loc:41.411403,2.174297+(Spiral%20Decoration%20on%20Gate)" ><img src="images/map.gif" alt="map button" id="mapbutton" /></a></p>

And it looks like this:

Maps in ebooks in iBooks

When your reader clicks the Map link in iOS5, iBooks passes them to the Google Maps app. In iOS6, iBooks passes such links to the Google Maps page, in Safari:

Maps in ebooks in iBooks

And the reader can still click on the Directions or Street View buttons at the bottom. Here is Street View:

Maps in ebooks on iBooks

Then a quick four finger flick, and the reader can jump back to iBooks.

To send the reader to the Apple maps app instead of the Google Maps page, you just have to target the link to the Apple maps server:

<p><a href="#left" id="caption">A spiral decoration on the gates to Sant Pau Hospital. </a><a href="http://maps.apple.com/maps/?ll=41.411403,2.174297" ><img src="images/map.gif" alt="map button" id="mapbutton" /></a></p>

Then when your reader clicks the Map link, iBooks sends them to the Apple Maps app (without asking if they want to leave the iBooks app, one should note).

Note that the Apple Maps app doesn't mark where the location is on the map:

Apple Maps app from iBooks

And there doesn't seem to be a street view, though you can click the page curl in the bottom-right corner to view Satellite view and then zoom in.

Maps app from iBooks

You can get more information about creating links to the Apple Maps app in the iOS Developer Library.



Friday, November 16, 2012

Versioning in iBooks 3 (part 1)

Another promising new feature announced by Tim Cook about iBooks 3 is the ability to make updates to an ebook, and then make those updates available to readers who have already bought the book. There were a few minor errors in my Monarch Butterfly book so I decided I would use it as a guinea pig to test versioning.

The first thing to note is that versioning only exists for EPUB 3 documents. They can be flowing or fixed layout, but they have to be EPUB 3.

So, my first task was to update the Monarch Butterfly fixed layout book to EPUB 3.

Changes to the OPF file

I began with the OPF file, adding version="3.0" to the initial package element and adding the namespaces that Apple recommends.

I updated the title of my book to indicate the version number, though I'm not sure this is necessary (or desired).

I added the required modification date and time:

<meta property="dcterms:modified">2012-11-06T12:00:00Z</meta>

Pay special attention to the time format: CCYY-MM-DDTHH:MM:SSZ. I tried putting just the year, and EpubCheck gave me an error. Note that both the T and the Z are required.

To make sure my fonts are recognized, Apple now requires this line instead of the com.apple.ibooks.metadata.plist file:

<meta property="ibooks:specified-fonts">true</meta>

And then comes the part where Apple lets you specify the version of your book. You are allowed two dots and three components (so 1.2.1) and up to four numbers per component (which seems excessive, frankly). And these aren't decimal numbers: trailing 0's count to keep them ordered; 1.10 is later than 1.9.

<meta property="ibooks:version">1.1</meta><!--controls versioning in iBooks3-->

Then, since my book is fixed layout, I had to add the EPUB 3 specific metadata:

<meta property="rendition:layout">pre-paginated</meta>
<meta property="rendition:spread">auto</meta>
<meta property="rendition:orientation">auto</meta>


Because my books' pages include Javascript, I had to add properties="scripted" to each of the pages which links to a Javascript file, even if it didn't use Javascript in that particular page.

<item id="milkweed" href="milkweed.xhtml" media-type="application/xhtml+xml" properties="scripted" />

And then I removed the guide section, which is no longer required by Apple (and was already deprecated in the EPUB 3 spec).

</spine>
<!--new to 1.1 guide is removed -->
</package>


New TOC file

EPUB 3 requires a new XHTML-based TOC file, which is a lot easier to write than the old toc.ncx format, since it's just formed by an ol list with links to the various TOC entries. For a Fixed Layout book, for which you want iBooks to create its graphic TOC (made of the covers of the books), just create a single entry to the first page, or cover in my case:

<nav id="toc" epub:type="toc">
<h1 class="chapter">Table of Contents</h1>
<ol>
<li><a href="title.xhtml">The Monarch Butterfly Book</a></li>
</ol>
</nav>


Then, as a replacement to the guide section, add a landmarks section, which works very similarly:

<nav epub:type="landmarks">
<h1>Guide</h1>
<ol>
<li><a epub:type="ibooks:reader-start-page" href="title.xhtml">The Monarch Butterfly Book</a></li>
<li><a epub:type="cover" href="title.xhtml">Cover</a></li>
<li><a epub:type="bodymatter" href="milkweed.xhtml">First page</a></li>
</ol>
</nav>


Finally, declare the new toc.xhtml file in the OPF file, paying special attention to the properties attribute:

<item id="toc" href="toc.xhtml" media-type="application/xhtml+xml" properties="nav"/><!--new in 1.1-->

That's it for the OPF file.

Changes to the XHTML files

In each of the XHTML files, I had to change the meta tag where I declared the character set. It was:

<meta content="text/html; charset=UTF-8" />

and it should be:

<meta charset="UTF-8"/>

I also had a few documents that somehow still had extraneous DOCTYPE elements. I got rid of those and made sure that each XHTML document started like this:

<?xml version="1.0" ?>
<html xmlns:epub="http://www.idpf.org/2007/ops" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
<head>


There were also a few places I had erroneously used character entities, things like &copy; to show the © symbol. Now that I had the proper character set declaration, that was no longer necessary (or allowed). So I simply removed the character entities and replaced them with the characters themselves, typed in directly.

<p>Copyright ©2012 by Elizabeth Castro...

As far as content, I also fixed the error on page 24, which had the blinking arrows in the wrong place:

Wrong arrow placement

And put them where they go:

Correct placement of arrows

I also changed the Javascript so that the arrows would blink more slowly. People seem to have had difficulty finding the captions. It's actually a tricky problem. I want the photos to be displayed without distractions, but I want to offer clues. I haven't quite found the perfect solution yet.

Validating

Once of all of the changes were made, I used EpubCheck to make sure I had done it all correctly. I used the latest version: EpubCheck3RC.

Uploading the new file to the iBookstore

Finally, I uploaded it to Apple's iBookstore with iTunes Producer. When you make changes to a book that already exists, you only have to change the parts in iBooks Producer that are different, and it will only update those pieces of your package. So, I updated the description and then on the Assets page, I clicked the Choose button under Publication, and selected the new updated EPUB file. This screenshot is actually after I've done that. iTunes Producer doesn't give a lot of feedback.

Upload new file in iTunes Producer

And then I got the error I was suspecting:

Versioning error

I was expecting it because Apple says that you have to say what changed in a "Version_whats_new" XML file. I hadn't been able to find where that was.

It turns out I had downloaded the latest version of iTunes Producer, but I hadn't installed it. Once I did that, I was able to add the What's new information on the Book page:

iTunes Producer: What's New

Then I delivered the package again (no need to upload the book files again), and it went through without a hitch.

What I am most interested to see now is how it notifies me (and all of you who have purchased the book through the iBookstore) about the new changes. The new description went live almost immediately, but when I go to iTunes Connect, it tells me that the EPUB 3 version is under review.

iTunes Connect-3

And indeed, I don't see that little update icon that Tim Cook promised. Though I'm left with questions: When does iBooks check? Does versioning only work in iBooks 3? Do I have to open and close the app to force a check?

Update versioning, not yet

When I go to the Purchased section of the iBookstore, I also see that it shows that the book was already downloaded and I have no opportunity to update it. I assume that when the changes go live, this button will change.

Already downloaded

If you haven't bought the book yet, you'll be able to tell if you have the new version by checking page 24 and clicking the info arrow to see where those arrows show up.

And I'll keep you posted about how long it takes to go live. It seems like a really important feature to me. I would have liked to add a note or bookmark to see if those are maintained, but fixed layout format doesn't allow them. I'll have to update one of my other books...

More of my books