January 28, 2012
Remember last week when the world was coming to an end because Apple’s iBooks Author EULA required that if you are going to sell something you’ve made with the software, you must do so through Apple’s iBookstore.
In comparing the EULA with the agreement I’ve signed with other publishers, I decided that Apple’s EULA wasn’t so bad.
I don’t believe the iBooks Author EULA has anything to do with Apple wanting to make money off of your creation. I don’t think it’s even about keeping you from creating for the Kindle bookstore with their software either.
Apple is wary of allowing authors to “Write Once, Publish Anywhere”.
Back in the early days of programming with Java, “Write Once, Run Anywhere” or WORA was the central Java value proposition. Write your app in Java and you’ll be able to target all of the platforms with a single code base.
Do you remember those client apps that ran on the Mac in the old days? There weren’t many of them and they either looked like Windows apps on the Mac or they were just plain hideously generic. There was nothing particularly Mac about them.
So Apple has released iBooks2 and created this new freely available tool for producing high quality books that include video, audio, slideshows, photo galleries, 3D images, annotated images, and more.
Apple wants to see high quality interactive books that include these widgets. If you use iBooks Author to target many different platforms you’re going to have to only include the least common denominator of features. If any one of the platforms you’re targeting don’t support a particular feature then you can’t use it.
Suddenly, the books produced for their store using their tool aren’t so special anymore.
You can see that in the initial offerings from the text book publishers. The digital books are essentially paper books that you can load on your iPad.
That’s not very exciting.
I’ve been asking the question from the opposite perspective. If my book will never be printed on paper, then what can I do differently? How can I tell stories that better explain the topics I’m teaching?
I may want to target multiple platforms but I completely understand why Apple wants me to deliver the best book possible for their platform.
It’s the same difference of opinions they had with Adobe. Adobe wanted the Flash experience to be the same on all platforms. Apple wanted the experience on the iPhone to be consistent with other iPhone apps.
For now, this approach is meeting my needs. I’m excited about what I can author with Author.