Why self published?
Self publishing provides freedom not available with traditional publishing means. Most importantly, I can publish and update the books quickly. “macOS Installation” took me eight months from the idea to publishing and it has been updated several times to keep up with macOS releases. “Moving to zsh” took less than six months from Apple’s announcement at WWDC to book release and it already has received multiple updates.
On the other hand, there are several drawbacks to self-publishing in digital formats. I do most of the design and layout myself, and I am aware that am not terribly talented. I also rely on volunteer proofreaders and for reader feedback for editing. (Thank you very much to all who contribute.) There is no printed version. I do my own marketing or rely on word of mouth.
I am accepting those trade-offs for the gains of publishing quickly and updating often, so I am able to provide current and relevant information.
Why Apple Books?
When I worked on the first book iBooks Author, the Apple iBooks store, and the iBooks file format offered many features that other ePub based systems lacked completely. Also the actual process of setting up the account and publishing a book is quite simple.
The downside of the Apple Books platform is that I am restricting sales to the Apple platforms: macOS, iOS, iPadOS. Since my books are exclusively focused on Mac and macOS related topics, I consider that a small trade-off. When you want to actually use the information gained from my books, you will need a Mac and you will likely have an Apple ID to purchase Apps and Books.
Apple has been moving many of the digital book publishing features from iBooks Author to Pages. “Moving to zsh” was my first book built with Pages. There are a few features from iBooks Author that are still lacking from Pages, but overall I consider it “good enough.”
Will the books be available on Amazon/Gumdrop/other platform?
I would like to, but publishing to multiple platforms is not as simple as it looks at first.
Building a digital book requires testing on the target platforms. With iBooks Author/Pages I can be quite certain that what I see while typing will be presented quite similarly in the Books application on the Apple platforms. I still have to test and check the exported book in the Books application on all platforms for layout problems since even in the Apple ecology, not everything transfers perfectly.
Adding another platform would bring with it a large initial effort, and additional work on each update and I am not convinced that the result (more sales) would be worth it.
I have tried other platforms to create books, but ultimately they are too limiting. Working cross-platform means you get the lowest common denominator of all possible platforms. This leads to problems with simple things, such as the characters symbolizing Apple modifier keys (⇧⌘⌥), Emojis, or including screen capture movies.
I’d rather spend more time actually writing, than testing a book.
The books are not available in my region
I publish to all regions that the Apple Books platform allows me to self-publish to. Unfortunately, there are several regions where Apple has a Books store, that I cannot self-publish to. (India and China are the largest, but there are some others that I have gotten feedback from, like Israel or the Dutch Antilles…)
I have empathy for this. The laws regarding books, publishing, and in some regions censorship must be horribly complicated. But ultimately it is on Apple to allow self-publishers to access these regions. So please, if you are in one of those regions, give Apple the feedback that you want this kind of content available.
Until then, all I can recommend is to get an Apple ID in a region where the book is available and Apple Gift Card credit for that region.
Is there or will there be a printed version?
The books use many ‘digital’ features such as hyperlinks, slideshows or even movies. Modifying them to work in a printed form would be a considerable extra effort.
I cannot print from Apple Books, is there a PDF?
No, see above answer.
I have question, feedback or found a typo!
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