Apple’s iBooks Authoring Tool is Not Evil

Jan 20, 2012   //   by Michael   //   Blog, Posts  //  Comments Off on Apple’s iBooks Authoring Tool is Not Evil

In an article entitled “Why Apple, Why Does it Have to Be Like This? The Cold Cynicism of the iBook EULA”, author Marshall Kirkpatrick laments the exclusive distribution rights (through the Apple iBooks store) that Apple’s terms and conditions confer upon ebooks composed using its new iBooks Author tool. He, along with other prominent writers such as Ed Bott, feels that “[t]he tension between the creative potential enabled by this kind of software and the crushing authoritarianism of the conditions it’s shipped with is remarkable.”

I respectfully disagree with the position of this article.

iBooks Author is a free tool that enables amateur writers, otherwise unpublished authors and creative individuals with no access to publishing contracts to gain exposure and access to markets as well as profit from their works.

In exchange for the privilege of composing, publishing and monetizing an ebook on Apple’s easy-to-use platform, Apple demands exclusive distribution rights. Certainly, these terms and conditions appear, on first read, to be harsh. However, exclusive contracts are nothing new in the publishing industry. For instance, if a writer contacted a traditional publisher, like Random House, they would likely be forced to signed an exclusive contract as well – if they were lucky enough to even get a contract.

More importantly, Apple is literally giving away a tool that is superbly designed and flawlessly integrated with its other development tools such as Pages and Keynote. I cannot wait to publish on this platform and reap the benefit and massive distribution that Apple’s iBooks store provides.

This excerpt from a comment by Twitter user @badunn wonderfully summarizes my own sentiments:

“….But we’re all free to develop interactive books for Amazon or Barnes & Noble… Except that Amazon hasn’t offered up any tools for doing so. And to sell on Amazon, you don’t just need approval from Amazon, you need a publisher to sign you, and to get that, you need a book agent, and to get that, you need to spend months or years shopping your manuscript around, a process that most agents still insist be conducted via snail mail. And even before that, you probably need to hire an expensive development company that only large media houses can afford, because there are no tools on the marketplace for developing interactive books. But as a writer or media creator, you probably don’t have an extra $30k sitting around to hire a development company… So instead you go to Apple, download the FREE tool, make your book, and if your talent merits attention, and you’ve had a good idea, people will buy it.”

Empowered authors of the world, let’s publish!

N.B.: Apple tweaked the legalese of its iBooks Author app this week (02/03/2012) to clarify what was causing so much heartache for ebook authors. Here is a summary, from All Things D: “A couple weeks after introducing its new iBooks Author app, Apple has clarified legal language about what happens to the books users create with the software. Apple continues to insist that users can only sell electronic books in the iBook format via its iTunes store. But it makes it clear that the content of those books can be sold in any other format, without Apple’s approval.”

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