View Full Version : iBooks/iBook Author?

01-23-2012, 04:56 PM
The release of iBooks Author looks interesting. There's been a lot of talk about the EULA and that it is very restrictive and rights grabbing (though read this for an alternative take from someone who initially reacted against it: http://hollylisle.com/how-to-say-i-was-wrong/) Legal questions aside, has anyone played around with it yet? It seems like the perfect format for mutlimedia tutorials.

01-24-2012, 04:01 PM
Interesting. Although it really doesn't do much that is outside of the reach of an interactive pdf, and the resulting books are restricted to the iEcosystem. Meaning, of course, that I can't use them on my Android tablet. On the other hand, I have yet to see a full-featured pdf publisher that is easy to use, not to mention free.

01-24-2012, 04:52 PM
Interesting point. My thoughts would be to use it to create a more interactive version of a more classic pdf (distributed on other sites).

The iBooks format allows for the inclusion of a couple of nice things. The interactive graphic widget allows you to tag an image. Clicking the tags zooms to a predefined view. It also allows for the inclusion of video. Are videos allowed in pdfs these days?

I know that apple's gone well beyond the epub format by allowing javascript in there. I'm curious as to how much added power that could throw into ebooks - though obviously it opens the door for some truly egregious abuses of the ebook format at the same time!

01-24-2012, 06:08 PM
PDF allows video and Flash to be embedded. Between those two features, it covers pretty well everything I saw in the iBook presentation. One of my former college instructors published a textbook with video tutorials in it a couple of years ago.

01-24-2012, 06:22 PM
PDF allows video and Flash to be embedded. Between those two features, it covers pretty well everything I saw in the iBook presentation. One of my former college instructors published a textbook with video tutorials in it a couple of years ago.

Aren't these all features that require the use of Indesign? I'm woefully uneducated because I have yet to use the software or look much into it due to investment costs.

01-24-2012, 07:03 PM
I'm not sure if you necessarily need inDesign, but you almost certainly need Acrobat, which is still pricey. I haven't heard of another pdf publisher that allows more interactivity than simple forms and authentication, but I haven't really looked, either. And I am not sure if there is anything in the pdf licensing that would preclude someone from making one. In any case, a simplified WYSIWYG editor and some prefab Flash modules aimed at the prosumer-level market would probably be well received. Acrobat Pro (necessary to do the embedding) is US$450, and it doesn't even include the tools necessary to prepare media for embed. The Acrobat Suite is US$1200. Far out of reach for most users.

It's really a shame that there isn't an affordable solution that's cheaper than Adobe but more open than Apple. Maybe if iBook Author does really well someone will smell the money available in the < $100 software market.

01-25-2012, 04:45 PM
I'd guess that the competition will come from Google. Apple's suddenly made it very easy, and free, to create rich media for the iPad. Publishers will be looking to Google to produce a similar quality publishing tool to make it easy to create similar experiences on non-iOS tablets.

01-25-2012, 10:03 PM
Take a look at http://bakerframework.com/ another option for ipad ebook publishing. Open source, supports video, audio and animation.

Since I'm not an iGuy I can't try it out.


01-26-2012, 09:18 AM
Just remember if you publish somethingibooks/ibooks author Apples owns it partially

01-26-2012, 10:07 AM
Thanks Roba - that looks very promising.

JoeyD473 - is that true? I know they restrict the sale of iBooks to the iBookstore, but not the pdfs. The EULA only covers the iBook export as far as I can tell. That's a little different.

01-26-2012, 12:51 PM
I don't (and won't) use an ipad (iPhone etc...) so I haven't read the full EULA but from what I did read of it and based on a few articles about it yes, they partially own the content

01-26-2012, 08:03 PM
Okay, here's my take on the license agreement.

By submitting a book created with iBook Author to the iBook store for sale (if you submit a free book the rules are different), you agree to distribute that book exclusively through iBook. The license is vague, though. It fails to distinguish between the content and the format. There is enough wiggle room in it that Apple could, if so inclined, persuade a judge that the intent is to gain exclusive distribution of the content. Here is some of the vague wording:

any book or other work you generate using this software (a “Work”)

It is certain that an iBook format book would be exclusive to distribution by Apple. It is less certain if an author could create a pdf for distribution through, for example, DriveThruRPG and create a separate iBook version for sale with Apple and still stay within the terms of the license.

Due to the nature of digital distribution, Apple also gains the right to copy, store and transmit the work. Otherwise they wouldn't be able to sell it for you. They do not gain any ownership of it. The only rights they claim are those necessary to make the system work.

All of that said, the lack of any option for non-exclusive distribution is obnoxious, regardless of the intent. Many self-publish distributors have a two-tier agreement: You get a higher percentage of profits if you agree to exclusivity. DriveThruRPG, for example, offers a 70% royalty if you agree to sell only through them and a 65% royalty if you want to sell through multiple distributors. iStockPhoto pays 45% for exclusive and 15% for non-exclusive distribution.

On the other hand, when it comes to eBooks, Apple knows that it has its hands full competing with Amazon (and maybe Barnes & Noble if they can get their act together in time). Allowing an author to publish to both iTunes and the Kindle means that they're bringing the iPad into more direct competition with devices that cost less than 1/6th of the iPad's sticker and have an equally versatile selection (though admittedly not nearly so much functionality). If they can manage to cordon off a portion of the market with exclusivity agreements, they might be able to retain enough of a unique offering to keep their product relevant. And if Amazon wins that particular tug-of-war, Apple can always rescind the exclusivity paragraph.