Apple’s iBookstore Launches Breakout Books For Indie Authors

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Yesterday Apple rolled out a new section of their iBookstore, featuring titles from independent authors. This section, named Breakout Books, serves as further evidence that readers are choosing more independent titles, and Apple´s new platform is helping these authors find a larger audience.

Many of the titles found in Breakout Books are distributed by Smashwords Inc., an e-book distributor based in Los Gatos, California that features titles in the mystery & thrillers, sci-fi & fantasy and romance genres. Romance titles in particular have seen a significant increase in sales thanks to e-books and online publishing.

“The Breakout Books editorial feature is one of many ways that we’re working to help customers discover emerging authors in the iBookstore,” said an Apple spokesperson in a statement to the Wall Street Journal.

Currently, this new section of the store has a prominent spot at the top of the iBookstore screen. According to the New York Times, Breakout Books will have this top billing for two weeks. After this time, however, the independent section will still remain a permanent fixture of the store.

Most of the titles in Breakout Books are priced at less than $10, and many of them are even free. Some of these free books are the first in a series, with relatively unknown authors hoping to hook new readers into buying future titles by offering the first installment for free.

Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords, is pleased with Apple´s decision to feature these authors, saying this move could lead others to focus on independent authors as well.

“Apple is helping to shape a brighter, more democratized future for book publishing,” Coker told the New York Times.

According to Coker, Apple´s editorial team has hand-picked each of these titles — 70 of which are distributed through Smashwords — and ultimately has the final say as to which books will be sold and which books will be pulled from the digital shelf.

Yet while many see Apple´s entrance into this market as a tremendous boon to independent authors, some are saying this move may have come a little too late. Amazon has long been helping independent authors publish and sell their works through their Kindle Direct Publishing program. Other online retailers have also been working with independent writers to expand their readership bases.

Lorraine Shanley, president of the industry consulting firm Market Partners International Inc., is one of those who thinks that Apple´s arrival in this space has come too late. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Shanley stated that “Apple is playing catch-up in every sense of the word in terms of book retailing.”

Yet while Apple may be late to this particular game, they are a huge player in content distribution, and their presence in this space is no doubt welcome by independent authors and publishers alike.

Independent authors have proven their worth and earned their spot in digital bookstores before. Last summer´s breakout success, “50 Shades of Grey,” for instance, started life as an independent title before being picked up by Random House publishing and selling more than 60 million copies. And erotic fiction and romance titles also sell particularly well in the e-book format, as some believe these customers are able to purchase these titles without any concerns for their privacy.