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Caveat – Apple book authoring tool

February 1, 2012

iBooks AuthorAmid much hoopla, Apple made a series of education-related announcements¬†a couple of weeks ago. None received more attention than iBooks Author, a free tool for publishing e-textbooks in Apple’s online bookstore. I was pretty excited myself.

I downloaded the tool and began to try it out. I even upgraded my Mac OS – something I had been putting off for months. The tool looks good, although I think it is TOO simple. I did not see a way to enter sources for media, for example. I added an image and there was no place to say who created it or whether I had permission to use it.

As I was delving into iBook Author I became aware of a controversy brewing around clauses in Apple’s terms of service that deal with intellectual property and sales exclusivity. One¬†stipulation, as I understand it, is that if you want charge for a book in Apple’s store you must agree not to sell it anywhere else.

The severity of the language — the ironclad stipulation that iBooks Author-created content only be sold in the iBookstore and nowhere else — has raised the ire of several tech commentators, who find the terms insultingly restrictive. Dan Wineman of Venomous Porridge compares Apple’s iBookstore requirement to Microsoft’s attempting to restrict where people can sell documents created on Word. [Huffington Post]

I am delaying further exploration of this tool until I learn more about it. I wouldn’t be surprised to find Apple backing off on the contract terms. I doubt they expected such a strong reaction. I think I will also wait for the next revision. This first version is probably meant to test the waters and discover what functionality¬†people think is missing.

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