Earlier this week, Apple of course announced a few new changes to their iBook platform, introducing a new way to do textbooks and a new way to create iBooks, outsider regular eBooks (on the ePub standard)
I do want to talk about these changes later on, as it is something I have been rather excited about, but what I want to talk about now is the shit flying around the intertubes about iBooks Author, a tool to create more "interactive" and appealing iBooks, easily.
It works, it is great, but what is causing a little 'controversy' is how Apple wants use this tool and the fact it is a slightly modified standard ePub standard. In Apple's user agreement for this authoring tool and the iBook store is that you cannot take the book elsewhere, it has to be exclusive to the iBook store.
That is the headlines we are seeing, which are slightly misleading. Apple are saying, this free tool can only be used to create books for us. The product this tool creates are for use on our store. They are not saying your actual book, the content in it, is only to be used with them, you can sell that book elsewhere as many times as you want in other formats, but not Apple's format.
I struggle to see the controversy in this. This is far from out of the ordinary for the industry, companies create specific tools for their specific services all the time, software development kits, for example. But we have these absolutely ludicrous comparisons to Photoshop and Microsoft Office, saying that what Apple are doing is like Adobe saying the JPEGs photoshop exports can only be used on Adobe products.
Now, like I said, this is a ridiculous comparison for one big reason. Adobe Photoshop and iBooks author were created for two different things, one is a commercial product not created to support anything else other than what the user wishes to use it for, iBooks Author is free software specifically created for a service. Protip: just because it looks like functions like some forms of desktop publishing software, it doesn't mean it was created for the same purpose.
Microsoft created XNA to support their own platforms. What do you mean the Android SDK doesn't allow me to create iPhone applications?! Stop restricting my freedom! I can't even believe this is a topic of discussion.
I don't care taking a company taking shit for something, but I do get a little annoyed in this industry when journalists and social networking are being used to distract from the real story, especially when that distraction is not justified at all and seems like another case of some people wanting to get at Apple because.. I'm not sure, they get a little wet for a competing company.
A new way of doing the textbook thing, bringing it up to date with today's technology. I'm not suggesting Apple have nailed it, but it's an important step on which others are free to innovate on. This silly discussion distracts from this potentially game changing moment.
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