Friday, January 20, 2012

Ten reasons I can't recommend or use iBooks Author

Update 3 Feb 2012: Apple updated the End User License Agreement (EULA) on Friday, February 3 to make clear that they were not attempting to control the content of books created with iBooks Author, but rather the formatting itself:

Important Note:
If you want to charge a fee for a work that includes files in the .ibooks format generated using iBooks Author, you may only sell or distribute such work through Apple, and such distribution will be subject to a separate agreement with Apple. This restriction does not apply to the content of such works when distributed in a form that does not include files in the .ibooks format. [emphasis mine]

So, cross #2 of my list below. The rest remains the same, unfortunately.

I haven't stopped thinking about iBooks Author since I saw it announced yesterday morning. There are so many pieces to the story that I thought I'd take another stab at explaining them all.

First, a quick recap. Apple yesterday launched a powerful WYSIWYG tool, iBooks Author, that creates electronic textbooks quickly and easily. That's the good news. The bad news is that the End user license for iBooks Author requires that all books created with iBooks Author be sold exclusively through Apple's iBookstore, and the books that iBooks Author (which I'm going to call iBA books) creates are in an Apple proprietary format, based on EPUB3, but distinct from it, and called "ibooks".

Why might that be a problem?

1. Apple has the final say in what can be sold on the iBookstore. Each book must be approved by Apple. If Apple doesn't approve your book, you can't sell it anywhere else.

2. It's not at all clear how far Apple's control of an iBA book's content goes. If you create an ebook in iBooks Author, can you then copy out the content and create a Kindle book in some other tool? What if you create an iBA book from an existing Kindle-published novel? Can Apple require that you remove that book from Amazon?

3. It's not at all clear that Apple's exclusivity benefits kids, schools, or teachers. iPads are expensive, and Apple's exclusivity will mean that schools will be entirely at the mercy of a single company, for its approval of content, pricing and availability of devices, and tools for making textbooks. In the US, content in textbooks is currently controlled by local schoolboards. I don't want to cede that role to Apple.

4. iBA ebooks will work only on iBooks on iPad (I don't think it works even in iPhone/iPod touch). Although Apple had promised support for EPUB in its initial release of iBooks for the original iPad in April, 2010, it has now broken that promise. Apple and Steve Jobs have long wanted to control all the hardware and software so that they were perfectly integrated. One of the first thing Jobs did upon returning to Apple was kill the clones. Now they want control over the content as well.

Currently iBA ebooks will work only in iBooks. Will iBooks stop supporting EPUB created with other tools?

5. It fragments the ebook ecosystem and requires new publishing tools and workflows for publishers. iBooks Author does not create EPUB files and it cannot import existing EPUB files. It certainly can't export to any other format. I don't know any publishers who are looking for extra formats in which to publish their books.

6. Apple's iBookstore currently serves only 32 countries out of the 205 existing countries in the world. Not included? Brazil (nor all of Latin America), Russia, India, Japan, China (nor all of Asia), New Zealand, South Africa (nor all of Africa).

7. Apple iBookstore is not that great. It's hard to find books in the Apple iBookstore, sometimes even if you know the title! There are few recommendations, few reviews. And there are hardly any books, especially outside the US. Sure Apple wants to compel people to put books into the iBookstore, but is it in our best interest?

8. It's bossy. I bridle at anyone telling me where I can sell my books. Even if I only wanted to sell through the iBookstore I would be annoyed at Apple making me sign a paper to that effect.

9. It's unnecessary. Even if iBooks Author generated EPUB standard supporting ebooks, there's not an ereader in existence that could have viewed them. They would have blown the competition out of the water, without any coercion required.

10. Books are special. This is about books (for teaching our children!) which in my opinion should not be controlled by any company or government. What I have loved about the web and ebooks is that anyone can create and publish them without anyone else's approval. Books are information, are democracy, are freedom. No one has a right to control them.

Before you go off to the comments to tell me how I have a choice and I can just not use iBooks Author, stop yourself. I know I have that choice. I also don't need to hear about how iBooks Author is a free program and I should therefore not have any opinion on what it can or cannot require. Besides the fact that free is a relative term here (given Apple's 30% take for starters), I'm not talking about what is legal but what I think would have been right, what would have been smart, what would have really had a transformative affect on publishing, technology, and education. Apple could have done so much better. I was rooting for Apple, and they took the low road.


  1. The .iBook format is a “proprietary wrapper” for an open source ePub3 file that leverages open source technologies like javascript, CSS3 and HTML5. As you say, it’s a zip file with a .ibook extension. Apple has not asserted ownership of anyone’s work, but they have asserted ownership of a “proprietary ” file format created using open source technologies that were developed by people who specifically intended to provide their code freely to the public.

    Apple has made an investment in developing innovative, proprietary technologies that make it easy to develop a package of open source code. I think they are entitled to realize return on that investment, but it is a violation of the rights and principles of the open source community and the IDPF (who created the ePub3 specs) to limit what can be done with that code.

    If Apple charged a fee for the software but didn’t restrict the distribution of the files created with the tool, they’d have my money today. But as a publisher, I get my worst returns from the Apple store. I want to generate a straight ePub3 file that I can distribute anywhere or upload to KDP and convert to Kindle KF8 format. I can get that open source file by unzipping an .iBook file, but I still can’t distribute that file outside of the Apple store.

    It’s true that nobody is being forced to use iBook Author. I certainly won’t be using it, but I’m disappointed; the lack of other good ePub3 tools available at any price would have forced me to become an enthusiastic customer.

    Thanks, Liz, for your always informative and engaging blog.

    Dave Bricker,

    1. just this one reason below is making more sense than the upper article already

  2. Isn't it just a matter of time before someone comes along with some clever XSLT that transforms the 'index' XML file (inside the iBook archive file) into something everyone can use?

    1. Problem is, CSS use custom properties (-ibooks-*, not -webkit-*) that have no exact equivalent in CSS3 properties.
      + Apple uses svg images as a stylesheet.
      + Apples uses a .plist as a stylesheet and developed something (linehints) so that ibooks can use them.

      Hence, the whole layout is based on a custom / proprietary "environment". There is no easy way to convert those CSS files into EPUB3 CSS files.
      As Baldur wrote : "When that format is built around non-standard extensions to the CSS rendering model and all of the XHTML and the CSS are built around that extended model, the file is likely to forever be useless and unreadable in other reading systems."

      As a matter of fact, we felt Apple was considering the IDPF wasn't working fast enough and made bad choices (in Apple's opinion). For instance, they decided to choose Adobe Proposal on CSS3 exclusions while Apple let it be known they considered it quite bad (in March). Look here :

      I guess Apple just decided to go its own way because they could not wait EPUB3 any longer. And perhaps they are trying to force IDPF to adopt Apple's .iba as EPUB3.5…

  3. Liz, Do you have more info about the change in the iBookstore contract (the mysterious section 3a)? I'm dying to know what it says but I don't have an iTunes Connect login.

    1. There seems to be more details on the section 3a requirements in the article in Ars Technica:

  4. It looks like a good resource for addition versions of my content. 95% of the ePUBs I sell are sold through iBookstore. I want to penetrate that market more. I wish Amazon had something as good for the Fire. I'm making my books in 3-4 version of print, two versions of PDF, one version of EPUB and a Kindle version as it stand now. This just seems to be a way to expand the distribution of my content.

  5. Isn't this fact: " is a violation of the rights and principles of the open source community and the IDPF (who created the ePub3 specs) to limit what can be done with that code." enough to know that Apples stance is hardly enforceable?

  6. Come on, you're really exaggerating on this one... Apple doesn't want control over your copyrighted materials for the books, they're not using them for anything, that's for sure.

    They just don't want Amazon and others to profit of new titles coming to their distribution system, taking advantage of Apple's effort to create their AMAZING and simple App while others are offering you NOTHING (or almost) to create books.

    Amazon should make an app for their absurd KF8 format (it's an ePub3 with negligible differences too) or create a good alliance with soft makers such as Adobe to provide better tools for ePub3 authoring.

    Creating ePubs is a pain in the ass right now; Liz and other people have to explain long techniques and code tricks in order to make them work for various platforms. Publishing people aren't coders, they want simple tools to have more time to care about good content.

    Apple is a business and as such they use their strategy on this one to sell more devices. As simple as that.

    Seeing Machiavellian motives behind this to conquer the (content) world seems out of line. It would have been GREAT for iBook Author to generate an standard ePub3 file ready for any platform, but come on, admit we're begrudging because we would love, not only a free authoring app, but to be able to solve ALL our publishing problems once for all.

    That ain't be happening right now, foks! Tell Adobe (or independent companies) to make such an app. Sure they will still charge you several hundreds of dollars for it: not surprisingly, it's their business model after all. We respect that, but we cry at Apple's policy? I don't get it...

    1. I think you just summed up exactly how I feel, JL!

  7. "The bad news is that the End user license for iBooks Author requires that all books created with iBooks Author be sold exclusively through Apple's iBookstore"

    That's not bad news! That's good business sense. Buy Apple stock now. Profits to be made. This is capitalism at its best.

    1. Capitalism at it's worst, as usual.

  8. Argh! Today my iTunes asked to update (I said yes). When I plugged in my iPad to my just-updated computer (a MBAir) the iPad also appeared to update (I wasn't asked but I did observe that the iPad did a 'hard' restart.)

    Now iTunes CRASHES any time I try to drag/drop an epub file from my computer onto the mounted iPad in iTunes. This has nothing to do with the new app - I haven't yet downloaded it - other than these announcements apparently called for a new iTunes (and maybe an updated iOS? - dunno).

    Anyway, I can no longer load the epubs I'm creating to test them on the iPad. I can't even load previously-working ePubs -- Liz, that includes the ePub of your Indesign book that I purchased from you.

    Is anyone else experiencing iTunes crashing today, after the update?

    1. I have the same issue. Wish I could say, "But the way to fix it is..." Sadly, I don't have that privilege.

      This is a pretty significant issue since iBooks is basically an ePub reader, so if you can't get ePubs into it or out of it, then that's kind of the end of the deal. I would also think it would have been the very first thing they would have checked before releasing a new version of iTunes into the wild.

      WHat bothers me is I switched to iBooks from Stanza because I thought Apple would be more reliable in terms of maintaining their own software, and an e-reader of one sort or another is pretty much the main reason I have a mobile device. Now, I feel a bit like a sucker.

    2. I spent an hour at the Apple Store today. I have written up the resolution here: This recaps a couple of non-crashing ways to get your ePub file onto your iOS device. Cross your fingers for 10.5.4 to fix this -- a crash is never an elegant way to handle even dis-allowed behaviors (and do send in that crash report if you get a crash!!)

  9. Oh, I wish it was like the good ol' times when free meant free, with no ulterior motive - as in I will take 30% of all your future income.

  10. (Morbus Iff:)

    Evening. I don't normally read your blog.

    1) "If Apple doesn't approve your book, you can't sell it anywhere else." I don't think that's entirely true, really. If Apple won't sell your book, you still have ownership of all your content, and you still have a choice: you can recreate it in any of the other non-existant EPUB3 creators, you can export to PDF (or Text) to shop it around to a design or preproduction company who can reformat it for a cost, or shop it around to another publisher who would then, also, reformat it per their needs (at cost). Apple's disapproval of your content doesn't dash your hopes of being published - it just dashes your hope of using Apple's technology to distribute your book.

  11. (Morbus Iff:)

    2) I would say "Yes". Apple is not copyrighting your content, it's taking control over the presentation of your content, as created by iBooks Author. I don't think that's any better, mind.

    1. The presentation of the content could itself attract copyright. In some jurisdictions, 'published editions' copyright is separate from and additional to copyright in the content. If Apple's terms could be construed as covering published edition copyright, it could claim ownership over the presentation created in iBooks Author, and prevent use of identical/similar layouts created by other software.

  12. 4) I don't really see this as an important distinction: heavily-laid out PDFs are difficult to read on the iPhone's small screen too, enough so that it's usually not even worth the bother. Apple didn't bother either.

  13. 5) iBA can export to PDF and TXT, and as another commenter mentioned, the source/bundle contains an XML file that can be parsed and converted to other formats as well, given enough effort by an enterprising programmer.

  14. 6) As someone who only speaks English, "I don't much care". I know, I know, what a horrifically biased and locality-centric discriminism. But, it's nothing new. DVDs, Blu-ray, video games, even power plugs, are locality-centric too, and you have to pay an arm-and-a-leg to get around it. Most people don't. I suspect that most of the normal end-users of iBA won't really see a loss in not serving to English-speaking users in Russia, or recoup their cost of translation to serve native-speakers in South Africa.

  15. 7) Heh, no complaint here. Note, however, that the only ebook store I've used that was actually useful has been Amazon's, which only works because, erm, well, it's not an ebook store. Google's eBooks isn't much better than iBooks either. Your lament here can apply to pretty much any current eBook store.

  16. 10) "for teaching our children!" is a disingenuous and heart-stringing tactic - there's nothing in iBA that forces you to write textbooks for children. Or high-schoolers. Or college people. Why aren't you as angry at Inkling for being iPad only? For being a closed-source format? For offering textbooks on, gasp, how to mix drinks?! FOR OUR KIDS! I suspect a good portion of the individually-created iBA books (vs. corporate books, like DK, Pearson, etc.) will be non-textbook-y and crappy (and those that ARE written by individuals and ARE "textbooks for children" will likely unleash a backlash of "how dare Apple let just anyone create books to teach our children!? OUR CHILDREN!").

  17. I think the "right" approach, for me at least, is to change the Eponymous You's goal statement from "I want to write a book" to "I want to write a book FOR THE iBookstore". The added clarifying statement, RIGHT NOW, opens up an entirely different world... one that includes a WYSIWIG book creator and added interactivity that is difficult to implement or non-existent in other readers. With that goal statement in place (as opposed to the far-easier "I want to write a book"), the "only" downside is that Apple can deny your book. Otherwise, the other laments nearly disappear or become acceptable.

  18. (Onlookers: sorry for the multiple-posts but I tried to post the whole thing five different times with various authentications and they all were mysteriously deleted shortly thereafter.)

  19. Apple, please, let me pay upfront for the application, and be unchained from that agreement I was tricked into.

  20. 1. embrace.
    2. extend.
    3. extinguish.
    4. be amused when liz is surprised.
    5. bring out the next version.
    6. repeat.


  21. If anyone feels tricked by Apple just stop using iBooks Author. Apple will refund everything you paid for it. Instantly.

    Emotive complaints about being tricked are meaningless when the cost of the application is considered. And as for Apple's future slice, just don't use it and Apple will have no slice at all.

    1. or again... let me pay 20 US dollars and get me out of this life-time contract. How hard can it be?

    2. Don't worry, I won't use it. Now go kiss Apple's ass.

  22. You can only publish to ibooks for obvious reasons, here's a few:

    1. Any kind of enhanced or fixed layout book is going to iBooks, requiring it's own ISBN. Non enhanced and non fixed layout books could easily be submitted to other partners with a different ISBN.

    2. Every partner is coming up with their own layout, based on epub3. I don't see epub3 ever being a universal format across all partners. It's just not going to happen. KF8, .ibooks, and Nook actually has a full blown programming API for their "apps" on their store, which are really books. You can't even get that development kit now as it's private and invite only.

  23. There is probably no easy solution to all these problems for Apple. The issues here are similar to those of Apps. Apple has done a huge investment in a service for you to sell your Apps. To get their money back they charge 30% of what you make. However if you were to give the App away for free on the App store and then charge money for it through your own website, that would both undermine Apples efforts and destroy the user experience.

    A similar issue exists for these books. iBooks author is obviously there to help iBookstore. It is not there to help other bookstores. If you could freely create books for other bookstores there would be no point for Apple to invest in this application.

    Having said that, Apple clearly needs to find some sort of compromise. Perhaps one should be able to export the books in an ePub format without the interactive elements.

  24. Correction: "The ramifications of a new way of thinking textbooks..."

  25. Liz, as always, you have it right. Let's consider organizing to even the playing field. My son, who has absorbed my "wisdom" on negotiating for years, reminds me of my own advice: "why don't you organize a group of authors and draft terms to submit to amazon/apple? why do you think you have to accept their terms on face value or reject them? make it the default template for authors to negotiate w/ publishers."

    Anyone game? Do we have a lawyer in the house who could draft a few points for consideration?

    As small players, how can we level the field? It takes numbers. We have to create a standard and expectation of being treated fairly. We can draft and state the reasonable terms--many groups have done that for themselves in the past. But it takes unity and numbers to make the powerful ones take notice.

  26. Relax Liz, the contract doesn't mean what you think it means. Some of the biggest names in publishing would not have signed on if it meant giving Apple exclusive rights to their textbooks. Nor is Apple's ability to exclude ebooks any big deal. Any retailer can do that and thus far the worst offender has been Amazon with its bullying.

    Nor does this make the digital publishing workflow any worse than it already is. iBooks Author easily imports files from Word and Pages, using any style assignments you've made. That's precisely the same workflow most publishers use with InDesign. It's precisely how most authors submit files to Amazon and Smashwords. And Scrivener can easily output a Word file that iBooks Author can import. The only hitch is that this flow is essentially one way, but that's equally true of others.

    In short, iBooks Author isn't the end of the world. It's the first powerful WYSIWYG app for ebooks. That's good new, very good news.

    1. "Some of the biggest names in publishing would not have signed on if it meant giving Apple exclusive rights to their textbooks"

      Do we actually know those big names get the same contract we do?

    2. Yes! We do. It's exactly the same contract. In fact, there are no differences at all in the way that you publish via iBooks and the way big publishers do.

  27. Liz and all input, interesting reading for a novice...
    I found myself wondering if there were this many ups and downs in the beginning days of the printing press era, or the papyrus era, or the chiselling on stone era...

    For me what stands out the most is the keeping of words alive is strong... Storytelling, whether technical or not, is travelling into the ether world...
    and our Earth's Storytellers, Keepers of Words and Guides teaching with Words are learning just how to bring it along...

    Personally think you are all wonderful, and thanks Liz... I may be ignorant where ether books are concerned, but I certainly gain insight with every reading you Post and from the readers input too, appreciation felt.

  28. From what I've read (still reading ... lots to digest) I don't see this encumbering the ownership of content in the typical workflow.

    I work with authors who bring me their content as Word (or InDesign or other) and then I take that modestly-styled source into an app that can produce the one or more ebook formats (ePub for Apple, mobi for Amazon, etc.). None of the writers I work with would ever dream of starting their creative process at a blank page in iBA to create a manuscript. If they did their creative writing that way, yes, it sounds like they might be in some jeopardy as to the "who owns it?" question. But today that's just not the way I see folks working.

    Today the source I work with is prepared/managed/versioned outside the application (or applicationS) used to produce the ebook. After all, that source often produces both print and ebook renderings -- and frequently in several editions.

    As long as that is the general architecture/workflow then the ultimate source should have no question as to the ownership rights. The "source code" (book source file) and the one or more "object code" renderings (print or ebook) are clearly different/distinct entities. Each "object" file (print/ebook rendering) does get its own ISBN, right? So, okay, say someone (Apple) wants to put "rules" around just one of the particular "object" files because of the way that one file was produced. Fine, but I still have the source and the other "object" files (other ISBNs) produced by other means.

  29. The most important thing what Apple did is giving everyone the method that they can so easily create the best interactive book in the world without any designers and any developers.

  30. A few things that have been missed in all the ruckus:

    1. iBooks Author is an app for creating fixed-layout ebooks only. It's the complete opposite of Pages in that way, and of any other ebook program.

    2. Something that's not even in the documentation is that you can import single-page PDFs as images.

    3. Combine one and two, and you have the fascinating capability of importing a PDF and covering a page with it. Import one PDF for each page, and you don't have to compose the book in the program itself. You can compose it in InDesign, export to PDF, extract single pages with Acrobat, and insert into iBooks Author.

    4. Since iBooks Author produces only fixed layout, the whole issue of iPhone/iPod becomes moot. You might just as well try to read a full-page PDF on your phone. A good part of the program's magic is based on it's being designed for one standard screen size and shape.

    5. Since it produces only fixed layout, the whole issue of exporting to standard EPUB for other readers becomes moot. The only way to produce files compatible with other readers would be to leave holes in the layout! Also, the fixed layout would not work on any other current tablet or ereader, since none duplicate the dimensions of the iPad's screen.

    6. The quirky way the program implements and emphasizes tables of contents really makes it unsuitable for ebook publishing in general. You certainly couldn't do a children's picture book with it. In fact, I'd say textbooks is about all it's good for, at this point.

  31. Aaron Shephard: that's not entirely true, which would be obvious if you've spent any time reading an iBA book. When you're in landscape mode, yes, it's a fixed layout. But switch to portrait mode, and you'll see something quite different: all your text becomes a single scrollable page, and your media elements become side notes to the text, placed nearby where they were in landscape mode. Some elements, in fact, disappear entirely - there are a number of decorative, non-interactive, non-captioned elements in the Life on Earth book that disappear when in portrait mode. It's quite unlike a hard-designed PDF which *cannot* reformat itself based on your layout - iBA books *can*, and that means they COULD be readable on iPhones. Why they're not, I don't know (probably because they'd really need a third layout, as the portrait/sidenote view would still be too cramped on the smaller screen).

    I do agree with your TOC lament though.

  32. (My above comment, of course, presumes that you're designing the entire thing within iBA, versus importing hard-layout PDFs into an iBA doc.)

  33. There's some interesting censorship going on here. My earlier comment, which I thought quite civil and rational, was deleted. It must be a technical glitch because Liz would not do that I don't think.

    The reaction to Apple's EULA, extension of EPUB 3 and other "offenses" was quite surprising to me. Maybe it's the result of all the political events in the US where negative attack ads have proven to be so effective. Alternatively, there is the theory that there is a "barking dog" syndrome where echo-blogging imitates the "doggie telegraph" illustrated in the movie, 1001 Dalmatians. Who knows?

    In any event, the pendulem seems to be heading the other way with pieces like:



    1. For the record, I don't generally censor, and haven't on this post at all, but reserve the right to do so if I feel like it. Morbus Iff was also having trouble posting, I'm still not sure what was causing it. Blogger has been giving me trouble posting from Firefox, I have to go to Safari to make them stick. I found Gruber thoughtful and Elgan not so much.

  34. Thanks Liz,

    I agree with your remarks.
    Apple's presentation was focused on the book "The Life on Earth", as an example of what can be done easily with "iBooks Author"

    The reality is very different, this book is the fruit of the work of a large multidisciplinary team for more than 2 years(

    To do this E.O.Wilson's team have been used many advanced tools, and conceived as a suite of iPad Apps grouped on the same Content Management System.

    By the nature of the contents, I think they have been used mainly Adobe tools.

    I think that the result presented is a version for advertising purposes ..

    Anyone attempting to carry out a development of a similar book using only tools Apple going to suffer a tremendous disappointment.

  35. I personally don't appreciate a world where hateful ignoramuses have just as much opportunity to publish as balanced, informed voices. If I have to give up some freedom to allow content to be edited for quality, no problem. If Apple wants there to be a difference between the content on iBookstore and Facebook, more power to them.

  36. Apple has betrayed us and especially you Liz in our hopes that the epub would become a universally recognized format for ebooks. Apple's true colors are showing. The arrogance of a computer company controlling book production is gaulling. Like Crown paper has the right to control books because they make paper? Not.

  37. In my opinion EPUB3 is destined to become the standard. I recommend you read the article:

    Apple can not fool the publishing professionals.

  38. ePub3 working group said, "your own custom plugin" for the development of improve ePub format. So in my opinion, Apple developed the iBooks 2. DBOOKMARKS develops custom plug-in. However, format is still ePub. Furthermore, Textbooks or books can be the same with TextMate. In fact the iBooks app a Safari browser jacket. First, improve your extension and you should prepare performance test book to see all codes work in order. Because, the iBooks app is a special app for all your textbook and the other project. At the end of your project you will see nobody can export or do priacy on your programme.

  39. Surely they just own the code, not any of your content?!

    And equally, if you happened to write the same code for another device, the contract wouldn't count?

    Also, re 1., Apple has always approved their epubs, and have always had a say in what is sold...

    But I'm with you on the format front...why have a separate .ibooks format? Obvious why ($$$), but the more fragmented the market, the more the ebook format will struggle to become as popular as it should.

    1. Forgot to say - re. 1, you can publish elsewhere, even if Apple reject! Because it is the code that Apple owns, not the content.

  40. continued from previous comment...

    5. Agreed -- this new tool will increase the amount of work we need to do to get our content on multiple platforms. Right now, my workflow is pretty simple: create in InDesign, export to epub for iBooks and NOOK, convert to Kindle. This is a very smooth process for me. Once I finalized content in my latest ebook, for example, I sent it to my POD printer AND submitted it to Amazon, Apple, and NOOK all in one day. When iBA came out, I immediately began converting that title to iBA format. I've put more than 12 hours into the process and am only half finished. I see at least 3-4 days of extra layout work for each of my titles. Is it worth it? Well, until I get a title out there and see how it sells, how will I know?

    6. Apple's iBookstore may serve a limited number of countries, but let's all consider how Amazon, for example, handles royalties. If a book is sold a country other than the six or so on a special list, your royalty rate drops from 70% to 35%. Apple doesn't screw around with the royalty rate. It is what it is. I don't know about you, but I write and publish in English only and don't see a huge international market for my work. So this is a non-issue for me.

    7. Agreed. Apple's iBookstore isn't as good as it could be. I think that's because of its limited market. As I mentioned earlier, even I prefer Kindle -- and I've been a loyal Mac OS users since 1989! Apple could certainly get more people using the iBookstore if they introduced apps for more platforms and allowed cross-platform synchronization. More users would result in more reviews, more recommendations, etc. But I do agree that the whole system needs to be revamped to make it easier to use.

    8. I think this is a silly point.

    9. Not sure what you mean by this one.

    10. I really don't agree with your concerns on this given everything I've said above.

    I've read a lot of what people are saying about Apple's "evil" EULA for iBA and although there are plenty of valid points, I think the software and its ability to create AMAZING books really makes most of those points moot.

    I say embrace iBA as a tool to set your work apart from the competition and attract new readers. At least on a trial basis. Rather than get angry about this FREE software's limitations as far as distribution goes, consider the new market it opens for you by providing an easy to use tool for taking ebooks to the next level.

    Remember -- technology continues to move forward. This may be a great tool for today, but who knows what will come up in a month or two? Perhaps new epub standards will emerge with universal support, making something like iBA completely worthless.

    That's my two cents, for what it's worth.

  41. It's simple. Apple will have provided a concept of how things should work, but been too corporate/greedy. I expect some talented coders somewhere in the world will soon come out with a freeware or shareware program that will do the same thing as iBook Author 2, only with new code. Hopefully more epub 3 standard compliant code. For whatever reason, Apple has set a challenge to some programers somewhere in the world and they will take it up to create a powerful and inexpensive alternative. If Apple had paid serious attention to revamping the iBook store and not made a greed grab with this latest EULA, they could have made more money creating a free open source and using that to make their online books the ones to beat. What if B&N or Amazon release something as good and less restrictive?. They certainly have an incentive to do so now.

  42. I’m reading an awful lot of “apples and oranges” talked about here. Apple Computer did not suddenly make it impossible for a person to create an EPUB book for the iBookstore. They have not “broken that promise” to support EPUB. Anyone can still make an EPUB book, even a fancy one with JavaScript (as Liz was one of the first to discover and point out months ago), and it will work on iBooks just fine. What Apple HAS done is added some extra stuff to EPUB and created another proprietary format, similar to, but far more extensive than, what Amazon did with MOBI a few years ago. And, right now, it will only work on an Apple device. But, they are not alone. Though Apple has taken it quite a bit further than other companies, some of those other companies are not fully compliant with EPUB either. When I was formatting my own book, I had to change some of the code because it didn’t work on the Sony reader hardware, even though it worked fine on an iPad, a Nook, and, after simple conversion, on a Kindle.

    If some other company creates a software update that will correctly interpret the commands that Apple is using and display the book on its own hardware, other people might be interested in creating programs other than iBooks Author to make those books, too. They may have to work out a software agreement with Apple, but that’s not the point. The point is that the standards people WERE taking a long time to move forward. Apple has shown what CAN be done if bureaucrats would just move forward. So, let’s move forward, work out our differences, get everyone on board, and make great books.

    Because… have you seen them? They really ARE great books!

  43. Liz, I've book marked and returned to this post-and its comments, many times this past week. Thanks for your well considered opinion and quotable information. I'm not a writer or publisher, only a media developer for higher ed. I'm particularly concerned with the iBookstore's lack of global penetration. Your figures are helpful. As a side note, Apple's use of the term " university", as in iTunesU, should have all of us up in arms. I think, though, they will attract many faculty- if they could only prove they ARE publishing to tenure track instructors.

  44. @Joel Haas

    I've started using as my ebook development environment - it's free open source and web based - built on wordpress

    it produces standards compliant exports and seems likely to develop in line with such standards

    the workflow is similar to ibooks author but easier/faster - in Author and Pages it takes ages to load and then navigate my 3000 "page"

    It's possible to develop (once) in Pressbooks then relatively painlessly transfer into iBA every so often should you wish (a few hours not days not)- not perfect but a relatively manageable way to take advantage of iBA without getting to deep into the developing for multiple platforms nightmare

  45. We might simply get the best of this: the first example of a gui based tool for ebook creation. I think we should try to do it better using epub 3 standards. That's an interesting challenge.

    Referring to the business strategy, probably Apple is using Steve Jobs tactics without Steve Jobs vision. It's wrong on the long run.

  46. First few seconds I looked into ibook author, I thought it was great. Than I realised this will be ipad only, making expensive apple equipment a necessity for schools if they want to use interactive books. I hope someone will bring out easy software like this for all platforms. Education should not be governed by apple.

    1. That is my biggest issue with Apple... It's such a closed platform, everything has to be done from their own devices.
      I don't have a Mac, never will, and that alone prevents me from uploading my books directly to their iBookstore.
      Well, who said it should be easy?

  47. Hi, I'm wondering Liz if given the ibook author thing, what would you recommend for creating a children's book available in ipad and their istore?

  48. Apple always take the low road don't they? And consumers (apple fan boys) allow it. Apple consistently tell us how rich they are and how much cash they have, yet the whole world is in mountain of debt caused by insidious marketing and irresponsible lending. Yeah I'm saying Apple are to part to blame.

    I publish on Kindle and it CreateSpace and they rock! Forget the Apple marketing machine.

  49. Thank you, this is what I needed to hear. Yes, books are freedom!


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