A Closer Look at iBooks Author, Textbooks and Exclusivity

MacRumors

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Apr 12, 2001
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Earlier today we published a story about iBook Author's exclusivity clause which generated some confusion. To clarify, Apple is not claiming exclusive sales rights to the content of published textbooks but to the specific output format (iBooks) generated by their iBooks Author tool.

Today, Apple released an easy to use tool called iBooks Author which allows anyone (publishers and users) to create interactive iBooks with text, video, images and more. As Apple mentioned during their media event, the availability of such a robust tool to make electronic books has been lacking. iBook Author can export projects in a number of different formats, including iBook format, PDF and text.


The iBooks (version 2) format is an improved format created by Apple based on ePub 3, but with additions and changes specific to Apple. These additions are believed to add new functionality and interactivity to the format as shown during today's media event.



At present, this iBook format will only work with Apple's iOS devices, and will not work on other devices. Even so, Apple has restricted sales of any iBook formatted documents coming from iBooks Author to the App Store. VenomousPorridge comes out against these terms suggesting that trying to control the output format is overreaching and falls apart in certain cases:
Or how about this: for a moment I'll stipulate that Apple's EULA is valid and I've agreed to it implicitly by using the software. Now suppose I create an iBook and give it to someone else who has never downloaded iBooks Author and is not party to the EULA, and that person sells it on their own website. What happens now?
As John Gruber points out, beyond the 30% App Store cut, Apple may simply not want to feed content to competing bookstores such as Amazon or Google.
Second, it's about not wanting iBooks Author to serve as an authoring tool for competing bookstores like Amazon's or Google's. The output of iBooks Author is, as far as I can tell, HTML5 -- pretty much ePub 3 with whatever nonstandard liberties Apple saw fit to take in order to achieve the results they wanted.
As we've mentioned, as a new format, the iBook format isn't even compatible with any other devices, but it's easy to imagine that compatibility could be implemented by Google or Amazon if the format takes off. Apple achieved a similar lock-in advantage with their own App Store apps, though those apps can't run on competitors' devices due to technical issue rather than licensing ones.

As for the likelihood of publisher adoption, AllThingsD points out why publishers are willing to start selling textbooks at the $15 price point when their paper counterparts go for much higher. According to the McGraw-Hill CEO, the company expects to make up the sales on volume. At least in the high school market, McGraw-Hill tends to sell $75 texts to schools which keeps those books for an average of 5 years. At $15 and sold directly to students, the company anticipates recurring annual revenue from each year's students.

Not everyone seems convinced, however, and Apple's proprietary format is raised as a possible issue. Macworld spoke with an executive at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt who claims that they need to be device-agnostic in order to support a broad number of devices.

Article Link: A Closer Look at iBooks Author, Textbooks and Exclusivity
 

-LikesMac-

macrumors 6502
Jun 20, 2010
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I knew it.

This will set it straight to those who thought that the iBooks won't be able to be sold anywhere else. The iBooks in the "book" FORMAT (iBooks) won't be able to be sold anywhere else, so that means you could just export as PDF. :D
 

JonneyGee

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Any word on whether or not iBooks published with the iBook Author will be compatible with iBooks for iPhone? So far it's sounding like they're iPad only. If so, this is a shame as it further limits the reach of this easy-to-create iBook format.
 

SandynJosh

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Oct 26, 2006
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This will set it straight to those who thought that the iBooks won't be able to be sold anywhere else. The iBooks in the "book" FORMAT (iBooks) won't be able to be sold anywhere else, so that means you could just export as PDF. :D
I believe you are correct, however that would remove the interactive element, wouldn't it?
 

kylebshr

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Aug 19, 2011
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JonneyGee said:
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Any word on whether or not iBooks published with the iBook Author will be compatible with iBooks for iPhone? So far it's sounding like they're iPad only. If so, this is a shame as it further limits the reach of this easy-to-create iBook format.
Definitely read that it was iPad only.
 

pancakedrawer

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Dec 13, 2010
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I don't see the exclusivity as a problem. The format is not standard, so it protects them against cheap iPad knock offs trying to steal content created using tools provided for free by Apple.

It also prevents apps that might aim to pose as iBook stores that allow higher pricing or larger books for example.

Essentially I think Apple are protecting their own design which should also help keep the user experience at the Apple standard.

I can see this being a really bad experience on other competing tablets with buggy software and a lack of rules to ensure content is consistent.
 

ks-man

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Sep 25, 2007
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When are digital textbooks going to be sold? I haven't seen mention of a date.
 

JonneyGee

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kylebshr said:
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9A405 Safari/7534.48.3)

JonneyGee said:
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Mobile/9A405)

Any word on whether or not iBooks published with the iBook Author will be compatible with iBooks for iPhone? So far it's sounding like they're iPad only. If so, this is a shame as it further limits the reach of this easy-to-create iBook format.
Definitely read that it was iPad only.
Thanks for the clarification. I don't see why they would do this (except to sell more iPads) since they upgraded iBooks for iPhone to 2.0.
 

SwissMac2

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Jan 18, 2010
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Why do they open up the possible number of users of iBooks Author only to severely restrict it by making it Lion only? Lion as an OS is crappy, unreliable and too full of Tablet Toy features for business use. Apple need to rethink this and launch a version that works on Snow Leopard.
 

arn

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Apr 9, 2001
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I don't see the exclusivity as a problem. The format is not standard, so it protects them against cheap iPad knock offs trying to steal content created using tools provided for free by Apple.
While it's not a standard, the format seems to be ePub + HTML5 mixture, so it would be easy enough to reverse engineer.

In fact if you just rename the file, it will load in an ePub reader, though you lose some of the details.

arn
 

KPOM

macrumors G5
Oct 23, 2010
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I believe you are correct, however that would remove the interactive element, wouldn't it?
To clarify, though, someone could take the identical content, and produce both an iBook for Apple and a digital textbook on another platform. What they can't do is take the iBook and directly publish it on another platform, or make a direct port.

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I don't see them in the iBooks store. Is it b/c I'm on my iPhone? Are they only for iPad?
Yes, the interactive textbooks require the iPad.
 

faroZ06

macrumors 68040
Apr 3, 2009
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Why not just build it into iWork (maybe in Pages)? It's sad how few people use that suite, and it's way better than Office.
 

ks-man

macrumors 6502a
Sep 25, 2007
726
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Yes, the interactive textbooks require the iPad.
So I'm 15 years removed from high school but will gladly drop $15 to try testing one of these books out and just see what the future of education may look like.

Any recommendations for what the best textbook on iBooks is from an interface + interesting content POV?
 

Heebeejeebies

macrumors regular
Nov 9, 2011
242
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New Jersey
So I'm 15 years removed from high school but will gladly drop $15 to try testing one of these books out and just see what the future of education may look like.

Any recommendations for what the best textbook on iBooks is from an interface + interesting content POV?
Can't wait to get my hand on E.O. Wilson's book. As an Animal Behaviorist, he is one of my idols. I'm thinking of buying an iPad solely for this purpose...
 

raybo

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Dec 4, 2007
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gibstros

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Sep 11, 2009
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This is a totally new paradigm

This is like Apple allowing garage bands to sell their songs on iTunes. Anyone can publish their books on iBooks? What incentive do the publishing houses have to go along with this? I guess it is adapt or else.

My wife has been on a textbook adoption committee in Texas. Its going to take a lot for teachers to adopt a new form of textbook. I think this will be far better suited for college classes (where the professors publish their books with smaller publishers who will now be put out of business).

On another level, could this be a disrupter of Amazon? If in 5-10 years Apple has done to the publishing houses what Apple has done to music distribution, what will happen to Amazon and B&N?

And finally, could someone ask Phil Schiller to smile? If this is such a great technology, couldn't the guy smile just a bit when talking about it?
 

swingerofbirch

macrumors 68040
Right now I get all my textbooks in PDF files from my college's disability department (and for some reason they don't charge me for them—I've always wondered how they get them so quickly—any book I need—as well as in an unlocked format, but better not to ask questions). They are SO much nicer than digital books directly from publishers which come up with glaring warning dialog boxes if you as much as highlight text to attempt to copy a passage. With PDF, I can search, bookmark, annotate, copy passages, have the Mac read the text out loud to me, and the pages scroll incredibly fast in Preview compared to the publishers' Flash based textbooks (not comparing to these new Apple iBooks, but the ones that have been available for some time direct from the publisher). All that actually makes me wonder if I'd even like the iPad experience of textbooks as much as PDF on a Mac—for example, can it read aloud, and would copying text to insert as a quotation in another document be easy?

Still, I hope Apple expands iBooks to PCs and Macs. At this point, I buy Kindle books because I have a Mac but not a tablet or smartphone, and I read them on my Mac (and Apple doesn't have a Mac reader for its books). If I ever got a smartphone or tablet, including Apple's, I could still read my Kindle books because Kindle is almost everywhere. Maybe Apple is focusing on fit and finish before expanding to other devices, or maybe they really believe an iPhone is a better reading experience than a Mac? I hope it's the former.
 

CFreymarc

Suspended
Sep 4, 2009
3,969
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This is another home run. The real loser are going to be the small printing houses that pop out college textbooks that are typically sold only by a handful of universities written by one professor.

This iBooks authoring tool is another WYSIWYG jump to making eBooks. I can see graphic artists and web publishing types move into projects making these eBooks.

Giving out the tool for free and selling the hardware is a very good move spanking the Andriod tablets. Steve would be proud and I'm sure was one of his line items not crossed off in his IL1 office whiteboard that is now going into deep archive.

Notice at the end of the video they show two ginger teenage girls out of the eight student faces they show. Redheads make less than 2% of the population. Why??
 

grblade

macrumors newbie
Feb 1, 2010
29
1
Publishers don't need to worry about supporting a wide number of devices. People don't use a wide number of devices. People use iPads.

Publishers should be very excited and really embrace this tech as the future. This will make them MORE relevant; not less so. Textbooks as they are don't make sense in 2012. With this announcement, students, teachers and people in general can get excited about learning again.