iBooks Author Launched – Apple Not Quite as Democratizing as I’d Hoped

So that rumored textbook making app did indeed lunch today. It's called iBooks Author, and it only runs on OSX. Well shoot. I was hoping Apple would lower their walls, but I guess I was wrong. One of the lesser known details about iBooks is the hoops Apple makes you jump through to upload an ebook. Ever since iBooks launched 2 years ago, Apple has restricted direct uploads to only people who are using a Mac. Lots of people in digital publishing rolled our eyes at this, but it's Apple so what can you do? And today Apple continued with the hoops.

My objection here is that Apple is excluding everyone who is too poor to afford a Mac. Yes, you can get a Mac Mini for around $600, but I know lots of teachers who cannot afford it. I can't, either.

But at lest this app promises ease of use. You're going to be able to drag and drop photos, videos and even Pages or MSWord files into various stock templates. It's also going to be easy to add a add a cover and TOC. Building  glossary is going to be a 2 click operation. The iTunes listing also says that you can interactive widgets. For example, you can drag and drop a Keynote presentation into the doc and it'll live on as an interactive widget.

Still I think this really should have been made open to teachers everywhere, including the ones who are using old computers, hand me downs, and even borrowed equipment. Education should be democratizing, not just open to the wealthy.

BTW, if you're noticing that I didn't fault Apple for the iTunes U app, it's because an iPod Touch can be had for considerably less than a Mac. Also, I think creation tools are a separate case from the apps that use the content.

Update: And I've just heard that this app actually makes Epub which can be read on other devices like the Nook and Sony, so there's a really good reason to make it available to all, not just the rich. And the license restricts you from selling the ebook elsewhere, but that's just icing on the cake.

iTunes

About Nate Hoffelder (11385 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

5 Comments on iBooks Author Launched – Apple Not Quite as Democratizing as I’d Hoped

  1. unfortunately, their new app uses a ton of proprietary code, won’t even open .epub files (!), plus their licence claims you can *only* sell books created with in in the iBookstore. fail. huge fail.

  2. It looks like it’ll do EXACTLY what Apple wants it to do. Also, Macs can be found on the cheap plenty of places. The opinions are crushing any factual content to be found here lately. Don’t you have a Nook ST to return?

    • Define cheap. Is it cheaper than the computer someone already has?

      And where are those deals? The best I can find is around $500, and that’s not cheap.

      • Not compared to $275 Wintel netbooks, its not.
        The really head-scratching part is the license terms: you can only sell via iBooks?
        So If you want any kind of cross-plat distribution you have to create the ebook twice? Or use somebody else’s tool?
        I wonder if they’ll change the rules for iBooks so only Author ebooks are accepted.
        They’re starting to act as bad as DEC was right before…

  3. Not speaking for Apple but I’m guessing the reason for requiring a Mac is because they (surprise) want to sell more computers. If they release it for windows 7 that would cut in to the hardware sales. Of course if they release it windows 7 people will be complaining that it’s not available on Linux or windows XP.

    So its probably about profits and that does make sense. They also probably want to control the experience and having run a Hackintosh on a ~ $200 netbook I can tell you that the experience was not a lot of fun. It was usable but the crappy hardware really left a lot to be desired.

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