Apple recently announced an improved iBooks targeted at broadening the reach of eBooks. As an incentive to fill out the iBookstore, Apple also released the great eBook publishing app iBooks Author for Mac OS free of charge. It’s a pretty cool app that you can use to easily create multimedia eBooks.

Thinking of using the iBookstore to self-publish? Many iPhoneographers already self-publish printed photobooks of their works through Blurb and MagCloud. Some are also publishing eBook versions for electronic distribution.

iBooks Author is either the savior of publishing or the the Devil himself. It depends on whose blog post you read. In my opinion, it’s pretty awesome, but there are a few things iPhoneographers need to know before you use it to self-publish through Apple and any other channels. >>>

Released mainly to create interactive textbooks for iPad, iBooks Author can also be used to create great looking iPhoneography showcases in eBook form. One of the cool things about the app is that it not only outputs eBooks with dynamic content, but can also output a static PDF which can be used for a variety of purposes.

The uproar throughout the blogosphere that you may have heard about concerns this section from the iBook Author’s Terms and Conditions… you know, the long bit of legalese that you skip past without reading before pressing Agree.

“IMPORTANT NOTE: 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 (e.g., through the iBookstore) and such distribution will be subject to a separate agreement with Apple.”

More specifically from the EULA:

B. Distribution of your Work. As a condition of this License and provided you are in compliance with its terms, your Work may be distributed as follows:

(i) if your Work is provided for free (at no charge), you may distribute the Work by any available means;

(ii) if your Work is provided for a fee (including as part of any subscription-based product or service), you may only distribute the Work through Apple and such distribution is subject to the following limitations and conditions: (a) you will be required to enter into a separate written agreement with Apple (or an Apple affiliate or subsidiary) before any commercial distribution of your Work may take place; and (b) Apple may determine for any reason and in its sole discretion not to select your Work for distribution.

Basically, what this means is that under this End User License Agreement, if you use iBooks Author to create a book, you may give the book away for free everywhere, forever. You can never charge for its distribution or download — ebook or print. Apple doesn’t “own” you or the work, as some in the blogosphere have cried.

If you want to charge for your book or “Work,” you can only use Apple’s iBookstore channel to sell or distribute the work if you used iBooks Author to create it. To also sell your eBook on or use a PDF to sell on Blurb or MagCloud, you’ll need a separate agreement with Apple to distribute, according to the Terms and Conditions.

One thing that’s very important to note here. The key phrase is “If you charge a fee for any book or other work you generate using this software….” Apple doesn’t own the contents your work — your art, your photographs, your text, your layout. They only own the electronic files, the epub or PDF that it’s wrapped in. So, if you want to sell your book on Amazon, Blurb, or MagCloud as wel, you’ll need to recreate your book using other software. Don’t want to be beholden to Apple for anything? You could also create the book in another app to distribute through all channels, including the iBookstore.

The EULA may be a pain, but I don’t think it’s evil. It’s simply limited in its generosity with Apple looking after its own self-interests. Apple is merely trying to get authors to publish to iBooks and they are offering a pretty great free software front end as motivation to encourage them.

It could be a great opportunity for iPhoneographers to self-publish and have their works seen in the iBookstore. The Terms and Conditions are unusual and a little restrictive, but it’s not “greedy” or “evil” in that by using it Apple owns your work.

iBooks Author is Mac OS only. Sorry Windows folks. It also requires Mac OS X 10.7.2 or later. Sorry Mac OS X 10.6 folks.

iBooks Author - Apple



iBooks Author photo courtesy of Apple. Disclaimer: I’m not an attorney, but if you read the EULA, the language is pretty clear.