Apple’s new publishing tool and eBook creator iBooks Author has only be out for a few days, and its already heavily criticized by some: the application is not fully compliant with the ePub standard, only runs on Apple’s Mac OS X Lion (workaround) and it the authors loses some rights by using iBooks Author as a publishing tool. The iBooks Author tool is available for free through the Mac App Store, but using it will have its price. Authors automatically choose Apple as the exclusive contractual partner; the company from Cupertino can even decide whether an eBook is ever published. Some say that it is “Apple at its worst”, and that they should stop trying to get total control on everything that they do. But it depends how you look at the case, Apple is forcing nobody to use the tools, take it or leave it.
iBooks Author EULA
The criticism is mainly based on two passages in the end of the user license agreement (EULA) of iBooks Author. One hand it says: “If the work will be provided for a free (…) you may only distribute via Apple.” But on the other hand there is the possibility to export books that are created in iBooks Author in the PDF format. The advanced books that make use of the full multimedia capabilities of iBooks Author can only be sold for technical reasons in Apple’s iBookstore. Because these features will only work with the native Apple iBook reader, which only runs on iPad’s and/or iPhones. Publishers and authors could sell a slimmed down version of the eBook in other stores, like the Amazon Kindle store but not enjoy all the multimedia stuff that has been created with iBooks Author.
Another rule that have been heavily criticized is the fact that Apple will also decide whether an enhanced eBook, which is created with iBooks Author, may be sold in the iBookstore. The EULA contains this general disclaimer with the following addition: “including without limitation the fact that your Work may not be selected for distribution by Apple“. In other words the publishers or authors have no rights if Apple decides not to publish the content. On one hand this isn’t a surprise, since Apple like to perform some quality control, but at the same time it could look like Apple is censoring content that they simply don’t like, like political books. Apple however will not tell anyone why they won’t publish your book: “for any reason and in its [Apple's] sole discretion”.