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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

Engadget highlights the economics of publishing iBooks Textbooks to the iBookstore, noting that paid downloads follow Apple's traditional App Store and iBookstore model where the company takes a 30% cut of the purchase price of each book. Authors are free to set their own pricing, although Apple has placed a maximum price tag of $14.99 on the textbooks.


In addition, the report notes that Apple requires all iBooks Textbooks to be exclusive to the iBookstore. An iBooks Author FAQ notes that authors may distribute their books free of charge through their own websites, but that book sales must go through the iBookstore. iBooks Textbooks also may not be offered under any subscription-based access programs.
Well, it turns out that Cupertino is giving authors the ability to set their own prices as long as they remain $14.99 or under. In exchange, Apple takes a 30 percent cut, and requires authors take an oath of fealty to Tim Cook -- ok, not really, but any e-textbook author that wants access to the iPad-toting masses must make his or her work an exclusive to iBooks 2.
Authors can use Apple's free new iBooks Author app for Mac to create their iBooks Textbooks for distribution through the iBookstore.

Update: There seem to be some questions about the sourcing and completeness of Engadget's claims. Apple states in its iBooks Author license that all works created through the software to be offered for sale can only be sold through Apple. But it appears that authors may be able to use other tools to offer those same titles on other platforms on marketplaces as long as they do not use iBooks Author to create the files. As TechCrunch notes, the output of iBooks Author is based on ePub but not technically in the ePub format, so those files likely would not be compatible with platforms other than iBooks anyway.
Books are not technically in the EPUB format, but they borrow from it (likely EPUB 3). Certain interactive elements of the books require the files to be done in the slightly different iBooks format, Apple says.
In light of the uncertainty about the situation, we have moved this post to the iOS Blog.

Article Link: iBooks Textbook Sales: Authors Set Pricing Up to $14.99, Apple Takes 30%, iBooks-Exclusive


macrumors 65816
Apr 30, 2008
The whole book at $14.99?

Hopefully we wont see Chapter 1: $14.99, Chapter 2 $14.99, Chapter 3 $14.99 etc. :rolleyes:


macrumors 68020
Oct 15, 2008
I like that Apple have capped the price.

However, not allowing publishers to publish their books on other platforms seems insane.


macrumors 6502
Mar 24, 2010
Apple takes 30%........isnt that the norm for Apple??? why is this earth shattering to some people?????


macrumors 65816
Apr 30, 2008
Apple greedy as ever.

Durrr, so they setup the store, get it popular, negotiate with big labels to bring them to the garden to help bring popularity to the iTunes store. It's the largest and most popular online meida store and everyone is there developing for it. This place is a cash cow for developers and you think Apple is being greedy?

Try the alternative. 30% is a small cut for a partner to take since they are doing quite a bit of the background work. You just need to create the content and click upload. They do the rest. Seems like a square deal to me. What's your beef with the 30%?


macrumors newbie
Dec 7, 2011
30% is high since Apple already has all the infrastructure in place for this.

They understand not bleeding students in terms of maximum price, but still want to bleed teachers with their percentage.


macrumors newbie
Jun 13, 2011
any e-textbook author that wants access to the iPad-toting masses must make his or her work an exclusive to iBooks 2
I'm glad textbooks are moving to digital format. And I'm OK with the 30% number, but this part sounds like the same crap Microsoft did with OS licenses and hardware vendors that everyone was so upset about in the 90s and 00s.


macrumors 6502
Jun 20, 2003
i just looked up the physics book online. it's $50 with the interactive CD. so $14.99 is a pretty sweet deal. especially with everything in bedded in the "app/book"


macrumors 6502a
Nov 23, 2009
As a college student paying $80+ for computing textbooks, as many as 4 a semester, I was ecstatic about this morning's announcement, but with the $14.99 cap, I'm suddenly thinking I'll never see these books on my iPad. Theres no way that many of these college publishers, with there greedy, money-grabbing yearly "updates", are going to sell a book for $14.99. The publisher that my school uses almost exclusively, no doubt due to wonderful kickbacks and incentives, Cengage Learning/Course Technology, loves cooking up ways to increase the cost of these books with "online components" that are the same cost as the book and usually offer nothing but a crude online copy of the text.


macrumors 6502a
Feb 3, 2005
This exclusivity stuff is a load of ****. Google needs to step up and create an open HTML5 based textbook format. Something that can run in an app, or in a browser.


macrumors 68020
Aug 15, 2011
30% to Apple was inevitable! Like one of the previous posters said, hope authors don't turn individual chapters to "In-App Purchases"!


macrumors 6502
Jul 19, 2008
I think the exclusivity part of this sucks but I do have to wonder- it can only really apply to having used iBooks Author to create the file, right? And that file is likely ONLY going to be usable on iBooks anyway... so if you wrote a book, you could import it easily into iBooks Author and release it on iBooks, and then use another program convert it over so it could be released on the Kindle, correct? There's nothing keeping anyone from distributing their books elsewhere- they just can't have used iBooks Author to have created that particular digital version (which may not work anywhere but iBooks anyway...).


macrumors 6502a
Jun 15, 2009
$14.99 cap, i.e. Never expect any major textbooks that you will need for classes to come to iPad.


macrumors 68020
Dec 13, 2003
Needs to be a standard

This format needs to be a standard. MP3 audio, MPEG-4 video, EPUB ebooks.

This is cool, but the negatives of creating vendor lock in more than offsets any positives.


macrumors P6
Oct 23, 2010
I suspect that this will pass antitrust muster as long as iBookstore remains a small part of the total publishing market, and Apple allows Amazon and other competitors to publish apps for the iPad that enable competing services to operate.

I don't think the $14.99 cap will be too much of a deterrent, provided that authors can separate chapters into separate publications at $14.99. The laws of economics will help ensure that textbook authors don't go too crazy and divide books into dozens of meaningless chapters to get around the price cap.


Mar 26, 2008
my god "iBook Store Distribution only" or else for free sounds crazy ... if apple would rule the internet, they'd be worse than SOPA
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