The knee jerk reaction when many comic creators read or heard about the Terms of Agreement for using iBooks Author to publish books was that your content would be exclusive to the iPad and subject to a separate agreement with Apple. During the early stages of creating Epilogue, our publishing label, and Hotel Whiskey Tango we wanted to publish the book through Kindle Direct Publishing; however, the desire to make it illustrated and the numbers behind the iPad were growing exponentially and quickly releasing HWT for the iPad became our primary focus.
It’s no understatement to say comics are going through an era of digital disruption and comics face the interesting challenge of being a niche market that hasn’t quite embraced digital as much as their other print counterparts. Our initial thought was that maybe we can release HWT as app and explored using Adobe Desktop Publishing Solution as another option for authoring a graphic novel but it was simply cost prohibitive when it comes to server charges and service fees on top of the Apple 30% tax. iBooks Author is free software and free to publish to iBooks Author using iTunes Producer as long as you purchased your ISBN numbers (you can buy a group 10 for $250 c.f. $395 for just the single edition license of Adobe DPS). If we were a traditional print magazine publisher who used InDesign into our common workflow then Adobe DPS might have made more sense.
Furthermore, Apple has provided an infrastructure for independent writers and artists an entry point to distribute their work without much development knowledge and as much simplicity as putting together a Keynote presentation. Much of the complaining stems from the inability to migrate the same functionality to other devices using iBooks Author, namely the Kindle Fire, but when you think about it — there really isn’t a “tablet” market — there’s currently only an iPad market with currently over 60 million iPads sold and over 90% of the current tablet market.
The ability to add music, movies, and interactive with iBooks Author also provide a more immersive reading experience beyond the normal ebook. It also allows Epilogue to extend its content beyond graphic novels into music and potentially film. It’s not a perfect authoring environment but iBooks Author gives us a distribution channel within the iBooksStore without many obstacles. iBooks Author ultimately helped with our vision of what we wanted HWT to be.