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Monday, 26 January 2015

iBooks Author and Kindle Creator software battle it out for supremacy

Apple and Amazon continue to battle it for the educational and children's market.

iBooks Author is now in version 2.2, and it's still the product to beat, despite Amazon's new Kindle Kids' Book Creator, and, more recently, Kindle Textbook Creator.

The overall strategy for all three products is to simply the process of moving from standard files authored in Word, Pages or Adobe Acrobat to eBook formats that mimic the open-source ePub3 format. Authors can easily import, lightly edit and publish their files to the respective Apple or Kindle platform, and then sell, sell, sell.

But there is a cost to this ease of publication. Both Apple and Amazon restrict the commercial use of the published files to their stores. You can retain the file for use on your devices, or even give it away, which is fine for university lecturers seeking an easy way to publish and distribute e-course notes. But for academics (or children's authors) who want to cash in on their texts, they'll have to be satisfied with Apple or Amazon holding exclusive distribution rights.

Truth is, Apple's iBooks Author leaves the Kindle software products in the dust in terms of functionality. Once you have your text in iBooks Author, it's easy to add interactivity and multimedia elements. Kids' Book Creator allows you to add "text popups", making text on the page easier to read through magnification, but that's it. And Textbook Creator has NO added functionality other than adding or deleting pages: you simply import your pdf and publish to the Kindle Store. It is only in beta version, but let's hope for more in the polished version.

There ARE ways of creating enhanced eBooks for kids and students outside iBooks Author and the new Kindle tools without having to grant Apple or Amazon exclusive rights to your content, and I'll be addressing this in the latest version of Your eBook Survival Kit, now in development. (pssst... owners of the current version will get the update for free!) The Kit is available in our new online Store.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

2015: a good year for rights sales for IP?

A crucial element in any publisher's survival is rights sales, and 2015 may prove to be a good year on this front for IP.

We're pleased that the Australia Council selected us as one of only a few publishers to participate in a delegation to South Korea and Taiwan commencing 4 February when David flies in to Seoul for three days of meetings organised by Austrade. As well as meeting with matched Korea publishers, he'll visit what is essentially a shopping centre where publishers' offices are located along with bookshop outlets opened to the public. What an interesting concept!

From 8-13 February, the delegation will be in Taiwan, again meeting with matched publishers. But this time the venue will be the Taiwan International Book Exhibition (TIBE), one of the largest book fairs in the world. IP will co-locate in the Australia Council booth, where Austrade Taiwan will coordinate meetings and IP titles will be on display. Our Taiwan agency, Nurnberg, will also assist with the itinerary of meetings.

As you can see, IP will be in good company at the TIBE!

For the second year in a row, IP's been selected to attend the China-Australia Publishers' Forum in Beijing. The focus this year will be on children's and young adult publishing, so our IP Kidz titles and Glass House Books for YA will be showcased. David is planning to build on agreements already signed from negotiations last year and will extend his stay with additional meetings with publishers in Shanghai organised by Nurnberg. The staff at the Australian Embassy in Beijing have been very helpful once again, and we want to express our appreciation for all they are doing to make IP visible to the huge Chinese market. reviews Robert Cox's A Compulsion to Kill

We're pleased to support a new online reviews site: The way that it works is that we let them know about new releases, and they let their database of reviewers know that the titles are available to review. After they receive an expression of interest, they let us know the prospective reviewer's details, and we send the book to them. That system works well for us by ensuring we send out review copies only to people interested in the book.

We've just received our first review, that being of Robert Cox's A Compulsion to Kill, and we're happy to let Lorraine Cobcroft's review speak for itself:

"Cox includes stories of ''the cannibal convict'', Alexander Pearce; sadistic sexual predator and baby-killer, Thomas Jeffrey; Charles Routley, who burnt one of his victims alive; Broughton and McAvoy, cannibal convicts; Rocky Whelan, who killed five men in just twenty-four days; and John Haley, who killed three people in fits of rage.

Robert Cox claims most of these stories have never been told before. Certainly they have not been related in such graphic detail nor with such impressive accuracy. Cox has clearly researched extensively and diligently and has uncovered a wealth of information about the lives and characters of the killers, as well as about their gruesome deeds.

This book has been described as ''a supremely dramatic page-turner in the true-crime genre''. I would not agree that it is either ''supremely dramatic'' or ''a page-turner''. I found it to be almost text-book/thesis style, but certainly intriguing and insightful. Careful footnotes and a detailed bibliography evidence the extent of research carried out and give the reader confidence in the accuracy of the information. Where opinions, theories or suppositions are advanced, they are clearly documented as such.

A lover of stories from history―especially Australian history―I opened this book with high expectations. I was not disappointed. Cox exposes much interesting detail of life in early Australia, the treatment of convicts, and the effect of that treatment on the minds of some of our most notorious murderers. He delves into the investigative methods used by police and presents newspaper reports and witness statements substantially as originally written, enabling the reader to appreciate the language used at the time and the reporting conventions observed by various newspapers.

Cox holds nothing back when describing the methods used by cold-blooded killers and their butchering and eating of victims' body parts. He covers hangings in grim detail. He presents a frighteningly accurate picture of life in an era when cruel and inhuman punishments were inflicted for relatively minor transgressions and persecution so hardened some men that they lost all respect for human life, if, indeed, these monsters ever possessed any. The stories are unapologetically grisly and horrifying, but this is history as it should be told. In the words of author Douglas Lockhart, it is told '...with the facts of a past savagery skilfully handled and accurately portrayed'."