Jan 21 2012
Everybody who’s read the fine print accompanying Apple’s new iBooks Author applications knows immediately that this application is only useful for Apple, but not for their customers. Titles created with the application are only allowed to be published EXCLUSIVELY in Apple’s iBooks store. And even if Apple refuses to publish your product, you are NOT allowed to publish it anywhere else.
But even if you are willing to sell your soul to Apple by agreeing with these terms, you only target one platform: The iPad. Yes, the iPad is successful. In the United States, at least, where people are obviously willing to spend a lot of their money on, let’s face it, digital toys with little real world use. And in my book, the iPad is one of those rather useless digital toys. But I’ve written about that before, so I won’t repeat it here again.
The problem for a content creator here is an awfully simple one – by using iBooks Author, you limit yourself to a rather small fraction of the entire market for eBooks. The last time I looked, Amazon’s Kindle platform (yes, platform, not just an eBook reader gadget) was the king of the hill. And the Kindle reader app runs anywhere – from the web over the Kindle hardware to PCs, Macs, Android and iOS gadgets. Kindle is ubiquitous. So are the ePub, mobi, PDF and even HTML5 formats. Anything anywhere can read them. This is where you have to go as a content creator.
Locking yourself into just one platform is not the way to go, to say it in harmless words. Its plain and simple stupid, to put it more bluntly.
To quote Steve Jobs himself: “If you give away your software for free and people still don’t want to use it, then you have a problem.”
Apple, you have a problem.
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
(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.
Apple will not be responsible for any costs, expenses, damages, losses (including
without limitation lost business opportunities or lost profits) or other liabilities you may
incur as a result of your use of this Apple Software, including without limitation the fact
that your Work may not be selected for distribution by Apple.
From the iBooks Author EULA.
UPDATE: Apparently, after all the flak they’ve taken for these EULA terms, Apple have decided to change the wording in order to “clarify” what they meant. The modified wording in the new EULA only ties the authors to Apple when they distributed certain iBooks libraries with their work, but Apple no longer claims exclusivity when the same work is distributed without the iBooks libraries elsewhere. I think that makes the EULA terms tolerable again, although iBooks Author probably only is a useful tool when you make use of those iBooks libraries. In other words, if you don’t want to lock yourself into the Apple ecosystem, either you have to live with a castrated version of iBooks Author or you have to use something else.