By now, you’ve probably heard that Apple announced a major new education initiative last week. They’re gunning for textbook publishers now, and to make creating content for the iBooks store easy, they’re giving away a free app, iBooks Author, to help you make next-generation interactive publications. Sounds great, right? Like an answer to the questions I posed in my post about digital publishing a while back. Until people read the EULA.
Boy, did the shit hit the fan then. The EULA has buried in it two interesting pieces. The first says that if you aren’t charging for your work, you can do distribute it as you see fit. The one that raised howls says, “If you charge a fee for any book or other work you generate using this software (a “Work”), you may only sell or distribute such Work through Apple…” In other words, if you use this tool, you can only sell the products you make through Apple. Dan Wineman called it “unprecedented audacity.” And he was one of the least vitriolic. The LA Times produced a slightly more-nuancced piece, quoting some of the pro and anti iBooks Author pieces. And to complete the pile-on, even Microsoft was able to take a few shots at Apple via Twitter. A rocky start.
What I find interesting is that the fact that you can use their free tool to make rich media experiences and give them away without paying Apple hasn’t really elicited much comment. Perhaps because most folks aren’t in the business of giving away content the way museums are. Would you use iBooks Author to make an interactive publication?