iBooks Author

First things first: No, we won’t support any sort of export to iBooks Author, because we can’t. There’s just no way to do it, as the file format is proprietary, and the import options within the app are limited to Pages and Word files. That’s right, there’s no option to import plain text files or even HTML (which the format is based on).

Yeah, sucks, but that’s the way it is. Ask Apple what they were thinking.

Having said that, I’m pretty excited about iBooks Author, because it looks like a nice and easy way to do some rather fancy eBooks. The image gallery widget is great, for example, and so are the options to create coffee table books or (something I’m really looking forward to) children’s books. Not having to fiddle around with CSS will be awesome, and the way they handle file export (send via email or just publish to the iBookstore) are just great.

Novels? Not so much.

Which leads me to that dreaded piece of EULA:

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.

Now… there has been some uproar and some downplay of this passage, and what I think it boils down to is simply this: Awful, awful naming decisions on Apple’s part. The app is called “iBooks Author”. The resulting product is “an iBook”, which (I believe) everybody just sees as “Apple’s fancy way of naming eBooks”.

On iPad/iPhone, the way to actually buy iBooks, err, eBooks, is an app called… wait for it: iBooks. It lists all your… eBooks (ePub and PDF) and also features a “Store” button, which will take you to the “iBooks Store”. On said store, you can buy a whole lot of eBooks in the (rather standardized) ePub format.

Now, with iBooks Author, the only product you can produce, is some sort of “advanced ePub” which Apple (un)intelligently labelled “.ibook” — see the problem?

Essentially, they created a new version of an established medium (nothing wrong with that), wrapped it in a proprietary format (nothing wrong with that) and then dumbly named it after something they’ve already established: An eBook with a different leading vowel.

Of course for Apple, iBooks Author is simply the first step of a complete distribution process: Create an advanced eBook (called “iBook”) for sale on the iBookstore. Period. Case closed. But for everybody else, an “iBooks Author” is just an “eBook Creator” — thus the outrage over not being allowed to sell said eBooks anywhere but on… iBooks. Sigh.

Could Apple have done differently? Sure. They should not have called their eBook store “iBooks”.


PS: Why some people bring pricing of the app (or non-pricing, actually) into the argument is beyond me. But hey, what do I know anyway…

4 Responses to “iBooks Author”

  1. Thanks for the post…. What really intrigues me now is what will happen to these iBooks apps when SOPA and PIPA are completely implemented. Makes you wonder, right? I guess the world is really ending on 2012!! … Great post by the way!

  2. Flex says:

    I don’t really get the bruhaha, to be honest. iBooks Author is a free tool that lets you sell your book on Apple’s store with no cost for you, and with some free advertising thrown in for good measure.
    In doing so, Apple takes the role of the publisher, so why would they allow that book, for which they provided the tool and the platform, to be sold elsewhere?

    If you are a professional writer and find a traditional publisher for your books, that publisher can also put it in the iBooks store, as well as other stores.
    Everytime Apple does anything, people act like something was taken away from them, when it’s always the opposite.