Apple’s iBooks Author impressed Diesel Sweeties creator and artist R Stevens so much that he created an e-book with it during the course of a weekend and distributed it free to readers. On Thursday, Stevens shared some interesting details about that experiment.
The book Stevens created, an archive of a month’s worth of installments from his weekday comic strip, was first hosted on Dropbox, but demand caused the public folder he was using to be shut down. Once Stevens moved the file to his own server, he saw almost 8,000 downloads, leading him to surmise that at least 10,000 in total managed to get a hold of the iBooks Author-created tome.
Stevens called that performance “not bad for a file created by software which has only been out for a week on a single platform,” and we agree. Consider, for example, that the Financial Times‘ How to Spend It, a lifestyle magazine app from a world-class publication, took 10 days to reach 10,000 downloads last September.
Response to the format has been “overwhelmingly positive,” Stevens said in a blog post, but there are some downsides. First, he says bandwidth required to provide the downloads is a problem, which could be overcome by selling the via the iBookstore, but that entails additional costs and operating within the confines of Apple’s marketplace. Stevens says this isn’t palatable since he “[doesn’t] like the idea of readers being geographically or economically restricted from downloading [his] comics.”
The other problem is with how iBooks Author writes to PDF, since Stevens wants to offer the collections to anyone, regardless of platform. Apple adds branding to its iBooks Author PDF output, which Stevens says is understandable since it’s a free tool. He would have to spend additional time, then, creating a second version without said branding.
Stevens’ concerns echo some of those brought up by Vook’s Matthew Cavnar during a recent interview, but the webcomic creator seems excited about the potential of iBooks Author despite its limitations. We should see soon enough if Apple’s tools result in a flood of new iPad-tailored content from other independent creators in the months to follow. I predict it will, because despite the fact that iBooks Author may be tied strongly to only one platform, that platform also happens to be the best venue for digital comics consumption available today.