There’s been a lot of Apple in the tech news recently. Their new iBooks releases have highlighted some of the inevitable changes happening in print publishing. Record financial returns posted this week point out the strength of Apple’s position, which they will use to push these changes in a direction that benefits them over their competitors.
I have a love/hate relationship with Apple. I love the products, I hate the closed approach that is often portrayed as the path to quality but is really a strategy to monopolize. The recent release of iBooks and iBooks Author reflect this – if you use the Author tool you can NOT produce books in any of the standards supported by other readers, such as ePub, and if you are going to sell the book you MUST use the Apple App Store to do that (along with their 30% commission).
In the long run this is going to drive the entire market. Apple is pushing the acceptance of these tools in education, and clearly illustrating that there is profit to be made. Competitors will be quick to offer more open alternatives, and we will all benefit from this, readers and publishers alike. In the mean time, I will be supporting electronic publishers that in turn support open formats.
Feb. 8 – An update: Apple has changed their EULA to be more clear, but is not backing off of the stipulation that any iBook format files created with Author of iBook that are sold for a fee must use the Apple App Store: