New iBooks 'Not Technically' in ePub Format

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TechCrunch summarizes notes from today's media event. Of interest, they seem to reveal that Apple's interactive textbook format is not quite the official ePub 3 spec:
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.
Earlier rumors had suggested that Apple will adopt ePub 3 for their new iBooks, but according to this note, it's slightly different. It's not clear what this means and if the changes are meant to eventually fold back into the ePub standard or not.

Apple's iBooks Author application creates content in this new format and projects made from that application can only be sold through the iTunes Store. At this point, however, it seems no other vendors yet support the format.

Article Link: New iBooks 'Not Technically' in ePub Format
 

Amazing Iceman

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Nov 8, 2008
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iBook Author does allow you to Preview to your iPad, but the book will have a ribbon that reads: "Proof".

However you can also email the book to yourself or anyone else with an iPad. when you open the book attachment, it will not say: "Proof", and will look like any other book you may already have.

This makes me believe that you are not forced to distribute your books through the iBook Store, which is a great deal.

You may also export to PDF and to iBooks Author proprietary format.

I can see the applications for this tool are unlimited. It's been left up to our own imagination to discover the content to publish. I'll definitely be a writer's delight.
 

davids8477

macrumors 6502
Jan 4, 2008
282
3
Great Tool

I just imported a large Word document that is our Software manual - 97meg!

The word document has many images in it - all nicely aligned - but on import the formatting got totally messed up - will take a lot of work to fix it.

BUT on syncing it to my iPad (via iTunes) i have a table of contents that is active, searchable text and - again with more work I could add video to selected areas to show the user the more complex functions.

Wonder tool.

BTW the finished Ebook was 38 meg
 

longofest

Editor emeritus
Jul 10, 2003
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cool tool, but with Amazon being a 500lb gorilla in the room and them supporting ePub, Apple should really fold these changes back into ePub and let the authoring app export into ePub format rather than just being hooked into the iBookstore.
 

chuckles:)

macrumors 6502
May 3, 2006
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I just imported a large Word document that is our Software manual - 97meg!

The word document has many images in it - all nicely aligned - but on import the formatting got totally messed up - will take a lot of work to fix it.

BUT on syncing it to my iPad (via iTunes) i have a table of contents that is active, searchable text and - again with more work I could add video to selected areas to show the user the more complex functions.

Wonder tool.

BTW the finished Ebook was 38 meg
Mb try exporting it as a PDF, then putting it into iAuthor?
 

Darth.Titan

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Oct 31, 2007
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cool tool, but with Amazon being a 500lb gorilla in the room and them supporting ePub, Apple should really fold these changes back into ePub and let the authoring app export into ePub format rather than just being hooked into the iBookstore.
I'm not sure where you got the impression that Amazon's Kindle supports ePub, but they do not. Kindles can't read ePub files without converting them first.

In fact, Kindle is the only mainstream e-reader that can't natively use ePub files. It's kind of sad.
 

kas23

macrumors 603
Oct 28, 2007
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Awesome. A set-up for DRM! Seriously, if Apple is truly interested in education, these Mac-produced ebooks should be able to run on non-iOS tablets (cheaper for schools) and should be sold in other venues besides iTunes. If not, these textbooks will not likely be taken seriously.
 

charlituna

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Jun 11, 2008
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but according to this note, it's slightly different.
That explains the reason for the ibooks only part. It isn't competition at the center of it but rather simply that the format will only work with ibooks due to the differences. They are likely patented etc and thus there won't be another app for the files even if you were to find a way to kill the DRM (well until someone reverses the changes)

It's not clear what this means and if the changes are meant to eventually fold back into the ePub standard or not.
I think if this goes off as well as Apple thinks, eventually they would be happy to have their trick in the standard. But we might not see it for a year or two.

----------

iBook Author does allow you to Preview to your iPad, but the book will have a ribbon that reads: "Proof".

However you can also email the book to yourself or anyone else with an iPad. when you open the book attachment, it will not say: "Proof", and will look like any other book you may already have.

This makes me believe that you are not forced to distribute your books through the iBook Store, which is a great deal.
I suspect there is a T&C that you have to sell through the ibooks store but if you are making something for free local use like an in house manual then you can use these direct tools

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cool tool, but with Amazon being a 500lb gorilla in the room and them supporting ePub,
Their ePub isn't pure though. It's wrapped in their DRM so that it only works in the Kindle apps. Same as this and the vanilla iBooks.
 

dshan

macrumors newbie
Mar 4, 2011
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Awesome. A set-up for DRM! Seriously, if Apple is truly interested in education, these Mac-produced ebooks should be able to run on non-iOS tablets (cheaper for schools) and should be sold in other venues besides iTunes. If not, these textbooks will not likely be taken seriously.
And what non-iOS tablets sell in quantities large enough to worry about? Really only the Kindle Fire (maybe), which doesn't support even regular ePub and so couldn't support iBooks Author created books anyway. The rest are rounding errors in Apple's sales figures and spending a lot of time and effort supporting them would be a huge waste.

Apple's textboooks will be taken very seriously because there is no alternative, nothing from Android, nothing from Windows. iPads are already popular in schools and universities, this will only cement the trend.
 

charlituna

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Jun 11, 2008
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If not, these textbooks will not likely be taken seriously.
We will see if that opinion proves true. I however suspect it won't given the number of non iOS tablets that have taken the market by storm, the number of schools that have already had their grade school students required to bring their own iPads and the detail that we have no idea what Apple might do hardware wise. for all we know they are going to add K-12 kids to the education discounts at least for the newly added iPad discount (which will be announced in the near future). Or add a back to school promo special on iPads for said group and the college kids. And/Or a total drop in price on the iPads, retention of the iPad 2 16GB wifi model at an extreme discount that might be for all, education online or via bulk buys by the school (any of which would be useful for students)
 

Amazing Iceman

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cool tool, but with Amazon being a 500lb gorilla in the room and them supporting ePub, Apple should really fold these changes back into ePub and let the authoring app export into ePub format rather than just being hooked into the iBookstore.
That's not going to happen... sorry! Apple never looks back unless they feel they are wrong. And that hardly ever happens lately.

True, it may not be a standard format, reason why Apple provided the tools to author the books.

And you don't have to be hook to the iBookstore. Read my previous post. You can author and export to a file that can be manually loaded into iBooks.
 

talmy

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Oct 26, 2009
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As a person who has an "ebook" that's been around for about 10 years I looked at this with interest. But there are numerous issues that make this a "no go":

  • If you want to sell your book, it must be sold on the Apple iBook store
  • Books sold on the Apple Bookstore can only be read in iOS devices (not Macs, PCs, Kindles, or other tablets).

Sure it's got animations, but it's an undesirable lock-in.

On the customer end, licensing terms are unsuitable for K-12 unless the costs of ebooks drop to reflect their actual savings (or they can be resold) they aren't really good for college level either. This doesn't solve the problem of the textbook publisher oligopoly. We really needed Steve Jobs "free K-12 books if you buy our iPods" model to make the lock-in acceptable.
 

Amazing Iceman

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Nov 8, 2008
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Awesome. A set-up for DRM! Seriously, if Apple is truly interested in education, these Mac-produced ebooks should be able to run on non-iOS tablets (cheaper for schools) and should be sold in other venues besides iTunes. If not, these textbooks will not likely be taken seriously.
That's not going to happen either. Nobody wants to deal with diverse hardware nightmare. Imagine authoring for every single different size Tablet out there. it would be a formatting nightmare.
Apple is promoting education, by providing both hardware, software and textbooks to go with it, plus the iTunes U. No need to waste time trying to figure out why something doesn't work.

And if the big publishing houses are signing up, it's because they believe it's going to take off. Otherwise they wouldn't be spending time and money producing textbooks.
 

Amazing Iceman

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As a person who has an "ebook" that's been around for about 10 years I looked at this with interest. But there are numerous issues that make this a "no go":

  • If you want to sell your book, it must be sold on the Apple iBook store
  • Books sold on the Apple Bookstore can only be read in iOS devices (not Macs, PCs, Kindles, or other tablets).

Sure it's got animations, but it's an undesirable lock-in.

On the customer end, licensing terms are unsuitable for K-12 unless the costs of ebooks drop to reflect their actual savings (or they can be resold) they aren't really good for college level either. This doesn't solve the problem of the textbook publisher oligopoly. We really needed Steve Jobs "free K-12 books if you buy our iPods" model to make the lock-in acceptable.
You can always export to PDF to make it compatible with the other inferior devices. And you are not forced to use the iBookstore; you can save or email the file to distribute it.

----------

Ibooks Author does not support importing pdf's.
I believe its only work or pages documents.
PDF documents, unless tagged, will import into any application as a total mess.
If you have a PDF, convert it to Word or Pages, then go from there.
If you wrote a book to distribute as PDF, you should have the source document, as you would need it to make updates to your book.
 

talmy

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You can always export to PDF to make it compatible with the other inferior devices. And you are not forced to use the iBookstore; you can save or email the file to distribute it.
I don't want it in PDF, because, it is inferior on any device. My book is in HTML which reformats and is readable on any device I can put it on. I've also sold site licenses which aren't possible with Apples model.

Any book you create with the Apple program cannot be sold, unless through the iBookstore. There are other free authoring tools available that don't have that restrictions. And Pages will generate epub output you can sell without restriction.

iBook Author is just a proprietary tool to create books for a proprietary target system (and not all Apple products at that!) that can only be sold through Apple's store. The price of iBook Author is right.
 

Rodimus Prime

macrumors G4
Oct 9, 2006
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Call me not surprised Apple does a standard propriety format and yet again in doing so hurts a good standard from really getting off the ground.
 

kas23

macrumors 603
Oct 28, 2007
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That's not going to happen either. Nobody wants to deal with diverse hardware nightmare. Imagine authoring for every single different size Tablet out there. it would be a formatting nightmare.
Apple is promoting education, by providing both hardware, software and textbooks to go with it, plus the iTunes U. No need to waste time trying to figure out why something doesn't work.

And if the big publishing houses are signing up, it's because they believe it's going to take off. Otherwise they wouldn't be spending time and money producing textbooks.
Don't schools already have to deal with PCs made by x number of different PC manufacturers with multiple screen sizes? And, if if schools are turned off by this prospect, I see this as more of a reason just to stick with dead tree textbooks rather than choose to solely buy iPads.

As for publishers jumping on board, this is because publishing houses have witnessed eBooks take off, so that naively assume the same will happen with textbooks. But, they are very different. I can view an eBook bought from Amazon on any device I choose. Kindle is platform agnostic. In addition, I can even strip off the DRM of Amazon purchased eBooks. Secondly, what do the publishers have to loose? They're only offering a few initial textbooks, undoubtedly made with Apple's heavy guidance. Otherwise, they're committing no resources.
 

Kaibelf

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Apr 29, 2009
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I don't want it in PDF, because, it is inferior on any device. My book is in HTML which reformats and is readable on any device I can put it on. I've also sold site licenses which aren't possible with Apples model.

Any book you create with the Apple program cannot be sold, unless through the iBookstore. There are other free authoring tools available that don't have that restrictions. And Pages will generate epub output you can sell without restriction.

iBook Author is just a proprietary tool to create books for a proprietary target system (and not all Apple products at that!) that can only be sold through Apple's store. The price of iBook Author is right.
That's right, and Apple isn't in the business of providing you with well-designed free software that you can then use to profit elsewhere. That's kinda the point of a business.
 

talmy

macrumors 601
Oct 26, 2009
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That's right, and Apple isn't in the business of providing you with well-designed free software that you can then use to profit elsewhere. That's kinda the point of a business.
I see people jumping on this like it's some sort of authoring panacea. It isn't. If you are willing to settle for targeting a single platform through a single distribution channel with rigid terms then fine. In that respect it is no different than downloading Xcode and writing iOS apps. I'd gladly *pay* for iBooks Author if it had an export in epub format. It does look like a nice program to use from what little I've played around with it.
 

Amazing Iceman

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Don't schools already have to deal with PCs made by x number of different PC manufacturers with multiple screen sizes? And, if if schools are turned off by this prospect, I see this as more of a reason just to stick with dead tree textbooks rather than choose to solely buy iPads.

As for publishers jumping on board, this is because publishing houses have witnessed eBooks take off, so that naively assume the same will happen with textbooks. But, they are very different. I can view an eBook bought from Amazon on any device I choose. Kindle is platform agnostic. In addition, I can even strip off the DRM of Amazon purchased eBooks. Secondly, what do the publishers have to loose? They're only offering a few initial textbooks, undoubtedly made with Apple's heavy guidance. Otherwise, they're committing no resources.
Wait, here's the catch. Just wait and see. Apple is going to push MACs back into schools. It has already done that with several Universities.
I know schools, specially public schools are subject to political madness, so I would imagine that Apple may cut special deals, even donate MACs and maybe even iPads to some school districts in order to gain ground.

Apple has a completely different game plan than most companies follow. They push hard to define standards; most of the time leading, hardly even following.

There are too many Tablets out there, all sizes and technical specs, hard to guarantee the same user experience. I know that first-hand, as I got burned already by buying the "alternative solution to the iPhone", so I'm stuck with an expensive piece of crap phone. The rest is just the same story repeating. I'm not getting burned with a different tablet than the iPad.
 

devilofspades

macrumors member
Jul 20, 2011
76
0
Call me not surprised Apple does a standard propriety format and yet again in doing so hurts a good standard from really getting off the ground.
you're kidding right? if it was such a "good standard" then it would have had the features necessary to do what apple is doing. obviously they left something out, which again apple is now only trying to improve upon.

as far as the whole ebook business, it seems people are missing the point. wether its a static textbook or an electronic copy, the interactivity and "learning" aspect is whats at fault. well, really our culture of click and drag and instant digital gratification is at fault. like it or not, it's never going back to "the good ol' days". if you don't believe me, stop reading this and throw all your ianything into the trash...yea, didn't think so. apple's new approach is targeted and tailored at this new digital responsiveness of our current culture. the debate over textbook and epub vs. ibook2 is like mp3 vs aac, and the topic should be more like vinyl and cd vs mp4. this is an attempt to change the landscape of how education is deployed. wether or not it adheres to some standard is not the point. i have no doubt this is apple marketing, but it's the same approach they took with the ipod & iphone and look where that got them. i believe stressing this tight controlled option to schools is the right approach. if left to their own devices and "cheaper" alternatives, schools will inevitably do what that have always done, which is fail and churn out $h!t. i am embarrassed by our current education system. my god just look how grammatically incorrect this post is!

all i ask is, before knocking apple on this one. look at the overall concept and try to dispel any bias just based on keeping with their typical "controlled environment" approach. i think if done right, this is what is need to educate the youth of america and other countries to help propel them to the forefront of science and education and intern their overall economic status in the world.

smart people make stuff, dumb people buy it...
 
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McScooby

macrumors 6502a
Oct 15, 2005
610
309
The Paps of Glenn Close, Scotland.
As a person who has an "ebook" that's been around for about 10 years I looked at this with interest. But there are numerous issues that make this a "no go":

  • If you want to sell your book, it must be sold on the Apple iBook store
  • Books sold on the Apple Bookstore can only be read in iOS devices (not Macs, PCs, Kindles, or other tablets).

Sure it's got animations, but it's an undesirable lock-in.

On the customer end, licensing terms are unsuitable for K-12 unless the costs of ebooks drop to reflect their actual savings (or they can be resold) they aren't really good for college level either. This doesn't solve the problem of the textbook publisher oligopoly. We really needed Steve Jobs "free K-12 books if you buy our iPods" model to make the lock-in acceptable.
It took me a minute watching the presentation to get what I think they are on about, although I'm still not sure. It states that the benefit to the school is the student gets to keep the book which could initially be purchased via a redemption code given by the school, so although the price for anyone to buy is $14.99, this is not necessarily what the school will pay, the trade-off would be if the apple way is more cost effective, but for the student point of view it certainly seems more favourable as you get to keep the book which is otherwise handed back!
 

2 Replies

macrumors regular
Apr 26, 2010
180
0
Can't Apple learn from Microsoft's mistakes, instead of being doomed to repeat them?
iBooks, now technically the IE6 of epub.

(Microsoft bucked a lot of web standards with IE6, opting to merely base their own implementation on the standards, rather than follow them to the letter. Which is why IE6 renders pages weird. It's also why IE6 is/was so unpopular.
Hopefully for both Apple and its user's sake this is something Apple can reverse.)


Replies:
Embrace and extend.
Unfortunately, Apple didn't as much embrace, as it merely used it as a guideline to implement their own off on a tangent to the epub standard.
Really no surprise though, since Apple has a bad habit of making their own standard and trying to force the industry to conform to it (which is not always a bad thing, but far from often a good thing either).
 
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