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iBooks Author Rules: Audacious, No Big Deal Or Sign Of Wars To Come?

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Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) didn’t mention this at the Guggenheim yesterday, but post-event the complaints are spreading across the Internet: According to the iBooks Author EULA, anyone who uses iBooks Author to create an e-book can only sell that book in the iBookstore.

“It’s akin to Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) trying to restrict what people can do with Word documents, or Adobe (NSDQ: ADBE) declaring that if you use Photoshop to export a JPEG, you can’t freely sell it to Getty,” writes Mac developer Dan Wineman.

Apple says that e-books created in iBooks Author must be sold exclusively through the iBookstore. Authors can only distribute them elsewhere — through their own websites, for instance — if they are free.

Here’s the official language from the iBooks Author license agreement:

IMPORTANT NOTE: [This is right at the top of the agreement, on the first page]
If you charge a fee for any book or other work you generate using this software (a “Work”), you may only sell or distribute such Work through Apple (e.g., through the iBookstore) and such distribution will be subject to a separate agreement with Apple. …

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.

Some developers and Apple bloggers are upset about the restrictions: “As far as I know, in the consumer software industry, this practice is unprecedented…” Wineman writes. “When I make something myself, no matter what software I use to make it, then — assuming it doesn’t infringe any copyrights — it’s my right to distribute it however I want, in whatever format I choose, for free or not.” John Gruber calls the license agreement “Apple at its worst. Let’s hope this is just the work of an overzealous lawyer, and not their actual intention.”

Others, however, don’t see the big deal. “All Apple is doing with this restriction is saying that if you directly profit from this free tool and platform that we have created, then we deserve our cut,” writes iOS developer David Smith. He thinks it’s more significant that the books can be distributed anywhere if they are free: Apple has “created an avenue for non-commercial distribution that would exclude them entirely. That is actually unprecedented.”

Frederic Lardinois at SiliconFilter notes that the content still belongs to the author: “It’s the book Apple cares about – the final product the program generates, not the content you put into it. iBooks Author is, in the end, just a tool for laying out your content so it looks nice on the iPad. Nobody is stopping any author or publisher from using another tool to sell the same content on another platform.” (If you’re interested in what exactly the *.ibooks file format is, here’s an examination from Baldur Bjarnason.)

Overall, Apple’s rules could be a sign that Apple is gearing up for a battle against Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) and its own proprietary Kindle format. “Platform wars have come to the book business,” writes academic publishing consultant Joseph Esposito. “There will be some publishers who will develop products for all available platforms (at great expense) and others who will focus on one platform alone (giving up a big piece of the market).” But “the publishers’ dream of creating content once and having it run everywhere is just that, a dream.”

22 Responses to “iBooks Author Rules: Audacious, No Big Deal Or Sign Of Wars To Come?”

  1. Interesting debate. Everybody seems to be forgetting that McGraw Hill was at the event, Pearson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt are on board and Dorling Kindersley is likely next. This tool is for those publishers, who already dominate the textbook market, to continue to do so. They are sold on the iPad as a delivery device because nothing else has come along. Perhaps it is the screen aspect ratio at 4:3 and the dominant market penetration? Almost everything android is 16:9. Any other use by self publishers or small textbook companies is an afterthought.

    As to lock in, assume the following. Course requires a McGraw Hill text available on iPad. Does it appear anywhere else? Will the “pages” flow over the 16:9 device the same as the iPad? Will the multimedia play the same? Will teachers be able to indicate pages to be read (or whatever markers used) and every student be on the same page? Does having an alternative publishing route for the material even work for students?

  2. Wrong, wrong, WRONG! Just how stupid are people being on this issue. The BS is piling up high and Apple is the victim of FUD. They only require that if you use the FREE software to create a book you want to sell for real money, then they act as sole publisher of that document in that format only. You lose nothing, you get 70% which is more than Amazon or any publisher would give you. They reserve the right to reject your work. This is nothing new, evil or out of the ordinary. Ask and think before you write tripe like this article. Give your book away for free or resue the material in a different file format and you can do whatever you want with it.

  3. AdhocHavoc

    It’s very simple
    It’s a FREE tool to make books. If you don’t like the agreement, DON’T USE THE TOOL! Put your books together any other way, that you want! Jeez, what do you expect for FREE?

  4. NeoAdamite

    I’m surprised at how many people think this is not a problem.

    The tool creates a collection of bits, no more or less, and Apple is asserting they can tell you what to do with that collection of bits. If Home Depot gives you a free saw, can they assert you must sell your cabinet through Home Depot?

    Time to reverse-engineer the format.

  5. The Adobe Digital Publishing suite seems to make more sense for the professional publishing industry. They charge a one time fee for a single publication of $395 which is thousands cheaper than getting a real book printed and then it’s yours to sell and distribute how you wish on multiple platforms. I think the professionals in the room will ultimately leave ibook author to those who don’t have large commercial interests as a goal when publishing their content and that’s just fine.

  6. Welcome publishers to our world as App Developers.  Here’s your best bet to rationalize this.  Apple is your retail partner, you sell to them wholesale they sell to the user retail and and you get paid by Apple on NET-30? like Clockwork.  And the big difference with this retail partner they give you cool tools to develop with and monitor your sales on a daily basis.  So similar to us you can go create on Android & Windows when they catch up and have multiple partners.  It’s all just content through Apple’s ecosystem and if your good you’ll have Hundreds of millions potential customers who go out onto Apple devices and look into iTunes, App Store & iBookstore for this content.  Give it everything you got and you’ll profit.

    • It’s not the same.  Publishers have their customers, they aren’t being delivered by apple.  
      Giving apple a 30% cut just to save the money on a tool – are you kidding?  Some of these books are million dollar propositions, publishers can pay a few thousand bucks for a tool, they don’t need a free one.

      This tool is purely for the self-publisher, would be home author.

      • If publishers have their customers then don’t use Apple’s iBookstore to deliver the content and deliver through your traditional channels. But, if you want to expand your customer base to Apple’s customers, iBookstore is where they’ll look to find and consume content. I guarantee you publish a book make it available however you want and through iBookstore, iBookstore will beat it out…100 bucks. Why…this is where 100 Million people go to find content to consume. Video, Apps, Music & publishing it’s all content and within apple you have
        iTunes – Music, Video
        AppStore – Apps
        iBookstore – Publishing Content

        It is all the same, Google, Facebook Recording Companies, Movie Studios all had an existing customer base as well. Guess where you can find them…Apple’s ecosystem.

  7. evilahole

    Let them!  A good portion of people won’t pay for them anyway.  If college course books make their way on ibooks, does anyone think the DRM will last?  C’mon now.  Let apple have their fun and rip off people who are suckers enough to pay for anything digital.  All this is floating around on the internet, you just have to know how to grab it.

    • Amazon doesn’t have a layout program.  Nobody is going to lay out a book twice, they’ll just pick a tool, probably something from adobe, and then submit it to ibooks and to amazon.

      and they’ll just pass on iBooks Author.

  8. Software publishers have been dealing with this for a long time. Angry Birds is the same game on iOS and Android platforms, but the software had to be recompiled and tested separately for each. 

    This whole thing becomes a non-issue if you think of iBook Author as a publishing tool, not a creative tool. It is probably is just a matter of time before Amazon and BN offer similar software (with similar EULAs) for Kindle and Nook publishers. 

    Publishers and independent authors will have to republish their products separately for each marketplace. Still a hell of a lot cheaper than typesetting, printing, binding and shipping. You still only have to write, edit and design the e-book once.

  9. NoTalentHack

    Judging by the fact that the *. iBooks format contains a lot of extensions to CSS and HTML, it appears to me that the iPad is the only device that’s going to be able to accurately display these texts anyway. That would make the distribution clause no different than the terms Apple imposes on app developers and others who seek to sell content; if you want to sell your app on Android, you’ve got to re-code it anyway. Same with an eTextBook, you’ll have to find another authoring tool that will mark it up to look nice on your  Android tablet or Windows workstation.

    I see this becoming an issue in the long run if someone has the expertise and daring to build clone hardware running iOS or something just like it.

  10. While I am not positive as am am not in the publishing business, I do believe that if you publish a book through a publisher, your are contracted with them and cannot go and publish it with another publisher. Unless, you are released from your contract you are bound to that publisher for that book….What’s the difference?

    • Laura Hazard Owen

      iBooks Author is for self-published authors. In this case the publisher is the person creating the book. If I take text I have written and put it into an iBooks file and publish it to the iBookstore, the text is still owned by me, not by Apple.

      Same on the Kindle Store, etc. A self-published author can sell his or her work on the Kindle Store and also via Nook and any other platform. Platform isn’t the same as publisher.

      The issue in this case is that Apple is claiming the *.ibooks format as proprietary and saying anyone who publishes in that format must only sell the work through Apple, though they can distribute it wherever if it’s free.

      Some people have a problem with this, and some don’t. (Commenter @c47185f6846d48e447222fb6974f4681:disqus and Frederic Lardinois, cited in the piece, are making the same argument.)

    • AppleFUD

      This is true however, what apple is dictating is not only your publisher but your, printer, distributor, and reading device.

      It would be equivalent to you signing with Random House and then they only sell their books via their online store that only works on their $500 device. The level of lockin is unprecedented in the publishing industry or any for that matter–that’s apple for you lol

      And we really don’t know if apple will try and own the book content or not–while people are speculating that you can indeed publish the same content elsewhere the terms are rather vague and we know how apple likes to sue over vague terms.

  11. michaelN

    “It’s akin to Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) trying to restrict what people can do with Word documents, or Adobe (NSDQ: ADBE) declaring that if you use Photoshop to export a JPEG, you can’t freely sell it to Getty,” writes Mac developer Dan Wineman.

    actually, no – it is not.   It’s entirely different; just think about it for a bit.

    • AppleFUD

      Actually it is very similar. Just because apple doesn’t charge doesn’t make it that different.

      There are lots of free ebook compilers that output into a proprietary format however, they don’t require that you lock into their single distributorship.It would be like Oracle, and Sun prior, using to lock you into distribution through them and only them when you use their free office suite–you wouldn’t like that would you?We’ve already had enough fights over proprietary document formats–at least the EU has enough sense to try and standardize things for interoperability but haven’t succeeded as well as they could have.The fact that apple puts in a clause that says **any** work generated from the tool is a very slippery slope. What, now we will get MS Office saying if you use it you can only upload your documents through Microsoft’s app store? Or only use their skydrive, etc? But you are giving it away free then they don’t care because they don’t want to waste their bandwidth lolIsn’t it enough that you output a proprietary format for the iBook? I mean, where else are you going to sell it? Shouldn’t you then be able to leverage your work/time and output via a standard open format as well? NO! Apple wants the writer to waste their time with apple’s locked-in software–start the work there and you will have to do it over in another tool = iBooks is a useless tool.This reminds me why I stopped using apple products a long time ago–they NEVER played well with anything else and it was always a hassle getting documents to other people without them being fubared.

      Seriously, I’ll write my book via HTML5 standards and go from there and if Apple was serious about helping education that’s where they would have started–then we might see a proliferation of Wiki-text books similar to Wikipedia that would work on a wide range of devices. No, apple is ONLY about their own bottom line–any marketing about them doing any type of “good” is utter PR BS!