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iBooks Author makes me sad

I adore content creation tools. I've spent most of my adult life either trying to build content creation tools or in the search for the perfect one. How exciting that Apple are getting behind this!

Yet —

Section 2. B from the T&Cs:

[[ B. Distribution of your Work. As a condition of this License and provided you are in compliance with its terms, your Work may be distributed as follows:

(i) if your Work is provided for free (at no charge), you may distribute the Work by any available means;

(ii) if your Work is provided for a fee (including as part of any subscription-based product or service), you may only distribute the Work through Apple and such distribution is subject to the following limitations and conditions: (a) you will be required to enter into a separate written agreement with Apple (or an Apple affiliate or subsidiary) before any commercial distribution of your Work may take place; and (b) Apple may determine for any reason and in its sole discretion not to select your Work for distribution. ]]

Write a book, any book, as long as it conforms and you permit us to own your distribution. Oh, except if you're giving it away. In that case, have at it, we love free advertising!

No thanks.
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55 comments
 
wow - hopefully those who write also read.
 
Fuck that. Fuck Apple. I'll stick to formatting my own ebooks. Should I ever finish the book I'm trying to write.
 
Hard to expect anything less from Apple. They're not really about creativity, just stuffing their pockets from everyone else's creativity.
 
That's certainly disappointing... A question: I've been watching the video of the presentation. The interactive content is great, but so far nothing about text links to outside content. It would be great if, a la Flipboard, one could view outside content within the book. Do you know whether this is possible? thainks...
 
+Janet Ginsburg hyperlinks are possible, but I'm reasonably sure that transcluding external media isn't.
 
Interesting. That's too bad because a big issue for schools, which will want to control the experience. It's also more elegant... sigh.
 
To be fair, this is only the "compiled" work - the content you are free to distribute whereever ... i.e. send all the text and images to your favourite publishing house for them to drop into one of those antiquated paper things, or drop it into a PDF to create one of the old fangled style eBooks.

You still own copyright, just not the right to distribute the output of iBooks Author
 
So people (Mr. Black) are upset because Apple released a free tool in order to enable and encourage content providers to sell through it's marketplace. What's wrong about that? I have to play $200 for Logic (used to be $500), same with Final Cut, etc. And many of those tools create content that I still sell through Apple. And you know what? It's going to be easier to sell this way than to do your own publishing agreement (and I've got a book in copy editing right now with a relatively cutting edge publisher). That was written in a proprietary XML format and rendered via LaTeX, and it was great. But the programming support or developing a system like that on my own would have cost tens of thousands of dollars. Apple is providing a GUI tool with a lot of functionality for free, and they expect something from that.

It's reality. It's business. I, for one, look forward to the opportunities this provides, even with it's caveats.
 
+Jak Charlton yes, but that's also the point. The text and images can be done with a pencil and a pad. The finished article is what you want the tool for.

What next, you can only distribute Garageband-written songs through iTunes? You can only play Apple Guitar on stage at your gigs, and sell tickets through the App Store?
 
+Edd Dumbill and the problem with that would be ....?

There are plenty of alternatives to GarageBand, so if you don't like the restriction it adds, don't use it.

There are plenty of alternatives to iBooks Author too, and not only that, but you can use them and it ... you don't lose, you gain an extra marketplace very easily, a marketplace almost certainly bigger than any other that 99% of authors have access to. The 1% who have a publisher can publish in both places.
 
+John Athayde you may be ok with the business model, but don't call that tool free, it's no where close to free.
 
+Bob Goyetche say I use iBooks Author and make educational books for my local school, which I give to them to distribute .... is it free?

How about if I write a recipe book for my family for Christmas and send it to them via email, is it free?
 
+Jak Charlton it's free until someone says "This is so good you should sell this", and then you can't chose how you will.
 
+Edd Dumbill Sure it's a strategy. But if Apple released iBook Author Software at $300, everyone would be complaining that it was too expensive. Apple's in the business of running a marketplace. They're going to do things that support that ecosystem. Why is this a shock?
 
It's not necessarily illegal, or in itself a problem. The problem as I see it is the whole freedom-be-damned, grab-every-right-possible-in-the-EULA, lawyer-tastic mentality that it represents. It's one big reason I don't own anything made by Apple, actually.

It's perfectly legal for them to do this, but that doesn't make it right, or any less of a dick move.

My million dollar question would be this: If they don't want people to distribute what iBooks Author outputs anywhere outside the Apple ecosystem...why let it output anything? Why not just tie its export function straight into the Apple store?

Unless, of course, your plan all along was to set a trap in your EULA, so that you can extract big-ass payments from people who produce something popular but didn't read your lawyer-ese carefully enough?
 
+Bob Goyetche and then you say "well it's on the Apple Store for just $9.99" ...

They respond with "But I wanted a printed copy", and you go find a publisher, make a deal, put the content in the publisher's format, go through review and editing, and they can get a print copy a year or two later. Or you say "Sure I can do that" and reformat all your content a bit and send it to www.lulu.com and then figure out how to market your new book

Or they say "but I wanted it on my Kindle from Amazon" ... and you take your content and put it into a PDF and hit publish to eBook and you set up your website to market it, and get some adverts and start a viral campaign, and push it via twitter and G+ and maybe sell a dozen copies.


... and you could have done all those before and without iBooks Author ... and you still can after you use iBooks Author

But Apple are betting you won't, because they just lowered the entry bar into the market so low, you won't need to.

They aren't stopping you publishing in all the ways you already can, just limiting your commercial options with their software.
 
+John Athayde "why is this a shock?" probably because you are in essence giving up any right to distribute in other channels, they basically own your product locking you to them.

Unless you know.. you are giving the product away for free, then they don't care where you distribute it.
People would like to have the flexibility to distribute by other means, it's natural that Apple would try this they are a business after all. It just reeks of monopoly I guess.
 
+fidel gonzalez no you aren't ... you give up the right to sell the compiled work in this format via other channels ...

You can sell the content in any other format in any other channels you like
 
+Jak Charlton Yep - agreed. that's exactly how a closed ecosystem works. which is why someone planning to create a work should think twice about starting with this tool.

If you started with a pdf though, you can get to any platform, and keep your distribution rights. Seems like an easy decision to me.
 
I was upset by reading this at first. But it makes sense because the output will most likely be proprietary. These creations are custom apps pretty much. It's not as if I can export the textbook I make and give to another company. At least, that seems to be the case here.
 
+Edd Dumbill You've reversed it: "What next, you can only distribute Garageband-written songs through iTunes? You can only play Apple Guitar on stage at your gigs, and sell tickets through the App Store?"

It's not a question of only publishing if you use Apple's tools. It's if you use the (free) tool for profit you use their bookstore. Plenty of people publish (and sell records) through Apple using other tools now. Let's not get crazy about this.

I agree with +John Athayde . There are other free and paid publishing tools out there. Use them if you don't want to be tied to Apple.

+Joby Elliott "why let it output anything? Why not just tie its export function straight into the Apple store?"

Maybe because they want to let teachers (and others) create their own material? This is a huge step forward for non-XCode iPad authoring. Some of you just have to dial it back a notch. Can you think of any other company giving away this kind of tool AND providing a direct link to the market if you want it?
 
+Bob Goyetche if you start with a PDF you can get to a lot of platforms (though not a traditional publisher or Apple) ...

What if you want to get to traditional publishers or Apple too?
 
+Sean Riordan Yeah sort of. The problem with proprietary systems is how limited it makes things.

At some point sooner or later book publishers and book companies will have to sit down and work on an evolving format that allows it to exist across multiple platforms (imagine having a book format you could read in nook/kindle/gbooks/ibooks/other without having to buy multiple versions).

I like Ipads but I also like android tablets and I hate to buy a version here and find out I cant use it there because it's proprietary.

But that's just me.
 
+John Athayde it's not a shock to me. My post just makes the point that it's sadly not an option I'll be pursuing. I understand Apple's strategy and I think it's a smart one. Every publisher needs an ecosystem of creatives on which to draw from, and this is one with good potential network effects. What makes me sad is the intrusion of the business model into terms of using a creative tool. That's a new and disturbing trend.

+Dave Pentecost good point about getting things back to front there. But I think you're a little disingenuous with saying "there are alternatives out there". Apple has a large network effect of deployed devices, both Macs and iPads, that it can bring to bear to make its option compelling, whether you like the terms or not.
 
Kindle format is close to a standard - apps available for all platforms - but it is not interactive multimedia, and Amazon profits from all use of it. Apple has made a play for an interactive format that benefits their business model. It may or may not work.

There is no problem reading PDFs in iBooks or without iBooks in other apps on the iPad. If you want to sell it on iBooks you will have to find a compliant PDF-to-ePub converter but that is not impossible. You may just have to pay for it.

But I still do not see the big objection to this new Author program other than "Grrrr...it's not free and open for me to take advantage of all Apple's development work without having to answer to anyone." And as for the "ooh what if Apple requires all Garageband recordings to be distributed through them" - 1) it's a paid app and 2) I'm sure I can think of even scarier what-ifs if that's the game.
 
+Edd Dumbill I can see your point. There's probably better ways to have done this from Apple's perspective (e.g. how iOS development works - not sure that's better tho).
 
I believe it is the format (iBook format) that must be sold in the store, not the content of the book. You can repurpose the content into epub, kindle etc. The tool is free and built to get the most out of an iPad.
 
+fidel gonzalez Thats a good point. But proprietary will always be a problem. Even with word processing. It took awhile for programs which aren't Word to read .docx files (older Word versions still can't). Something as complex as this book-building program will be hard to recreate by others. The best we can hope for is an export into a web-friendly version. Imagine this exporting to JS/CSS/HTML5 friendly pages. Now I'm just getting carried away. 
 
+Sean Riordan The Apple iBook file appears to be the same as or closely derived from the EPUB ebook standard. EPUB is XHTML/CSS/JS based. So the worlds of ebook formats and the web are very close indeed.
 
So what happens if the author advertises a "free book" for signing up for a premium (paid) account on his or her website? Not paying for the book, but rather the account. =P Ah, Apple would find a way to prevent that.
 
+Jeremy Self they mention that it includes books offerred as part of a subscription, so I'm sure they'd block that too.

The biggest problem is, they're also preventing the competition from participating. Amazon and B&N for example both are locked out of using In-App purchases unless they allow Apple to take their 30% cut. Which, of course, would take out all of what Amazon/B&N could make to start with. That's certainly why Amazon launched the Kindle Fire at such a low price, to try to get people off of i-Devices. The Kindle Fire, at least, allows you to read your purchased books on any other device (iPhone, Android, Touchpad, whatever)... Not that I'm a big fan of Amazon either...
 
+Alvin Brinson Oh well, sounds like a bad decision on Apple's part. They lost Steve and now they want to try something funny? Bad planning, I think.
 
I think these terms and conditions would be sailing very close to the wind in terms of abusing market position, but I'm not a lawyer.
 
Once Apple borked the iPhone 3G on purpose to force people to upgrade, I basically decided they were the evilest tech company ever (unless you count Monsanto as a tech company). This is no surprise.
 
Do you really think this is any different from the AppStore's terms ? Not at all. App developers are subjected to the same rapist terms.
Welcome to Apple's world.....
 
I was going to suggest to a friend to consider ibook, but after reading this I'm not so sure it's a good idea. Amazon ebooks makes more sense I think.
 
The poster is making a big deal of nowhere, you are not being tied to the iBook store you can sell it wherever you want as long as you dont submit the iBook package produced by iBook Author to this other platform... this i assume is because someone clever would build an Android iBook player and use the same books, taking the edge from Apple tech... so you can sell your book in any place and in the iBook store, just use another soft to prepare it fot that other platform...
 
I guess a phrase that Milton Friedman popularized applies: "There's no such thing as a free lunch", not for us, nor for Apple. On the other hand is simply a different way to distribute content, and if the numbers are similar to those of the AppStore it might become a very sound business for some authors.
 
There'd be plenty of room for Apple to make money selling hardware and competing on the basis of the desirabiltiy of their hardware. They could foster the growth of their hardware sales by making it more useful. But rather than be reasonable, Apple decides they want to own the education market. Wow, how bad can greed get?!
 
I think it's heavy handed, but I don't see anything wrong with it. Apple spent a lot of time creating what will probably become one of, if not the most popular set of ePub tools out there. Instead of charging for the product, they are going to recoup the cost and future development through iBook purchases. I can't imagine Apple freely providing tools that competitors can utilize to make money elsewhere …or worse yet in Apple's eyes, let competing eBook stores snag a percentage of the sale price.

Now, it would be rather douchy if they didn't let you give it away elsewhere …I'd call them out on that one. But the whole "if Apple rejects it you can't sell it elsewhere" isn't a big deal either. All that means is you'll have to re-build the book with a different set of ePub tools (or possibly just PDF it) before you put it up for sale. Heavy handed, yes, but I feel that they have that right since they are giving the tools away. Don't like it? Buy your ePub tools.
 
+Edd Dumbill - I share your sadness and wrote about it here: http://www.disruptiveconversations.com/2012/01/apples-great-big-fail-ibooks-author-is-amazing-but-locks-you-in-to-ibookstore.html

We need new and better content creation tools. In my limited playing around with iBooks Author tonight, it's the kind of brilliant app that I would, quite honestly, pay for... if I could use it as a general ebook creation tool.

I, too, understand Apple's motivation. It's just sad because there is so much demand for tools like this out there in the broader ecosystem.
 
Guess I'll have to bust out the typewriter to be certain I'm the only one who has a claim on my writing.
 
really... you should know this program is JUST a tool to help you get books into the APPLE store... if you want to use there stuff.. you need to understand that they DO have the right to make sure you are not using it for a competitor.... however.. if this was a paid for software and the sole purpose was not to place it in the apple store.. the licence would be rather draconian and would not be legal.
 
Why have I seen the line "A company has the right to do what it wants" used a lot by people who then turn around and criticize other companies? I don't see why we need to give Apple a pass on this one. It's fine to hold them to a high standard when it deals with a product that could potentially help millions of students everywhere.
 
Nothing Apple does shocks me. That's why I don't use them, for anything.
 
Well, this is why we have a distinction between gratis and libre - cost-free sometimes has a catch.
If it's a free tool, there has to be a price somewhere, and it's in that restriction.

It's a shame there aren't alternative licensing terms under which someone could pay for a version without the iTunes-only restriction; but I suppose that isn't the point of the tool.
Apple isn't interested in generating revenue from sales of authoring software; rather, it's all about promoting and increasing iBooks content.

If I were an author targeting the iOS market, I'd consider it, but it must be a pain in the arse having multiple tools for different sets of customers.
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