Beyond the hype and fanfare of last Thursday’s iBooks Author launch, some wannabe authors have been left with a sour taste in the mouth after delving into the terms and conditions of Apple’s new app designed to help newbies create textbooks for the iPad. Anyone who creates a textbook with Apple (and who charges a fee for it) must distribute it solely through Apple and agree to a wide range of extra terms and conditions, including the fact that you are required to enter into a separate agreement with Apple itself before any distribution of your work takes place.
The iBooks Author licence agreement, which is 133 pages long, also includes the slightly sinister sounding line:
Apple will not be responsible for any costs, expenses, damages, losses (including without limitation lost business opportunities or lost profits) or other liabilities you may incur as a result of your use of this Apple Software, including without limitation the fact that your Work may not be selected for distribution by Apple.
So, if your book isn’t good enough for Apple then it won’t be published onto the iBookstore and all that time and effort you invested in it has gone to waste. The revelation was also enough for Microsoft’s PR boss Frank X. Shaw to post some snide comments on Twitter, including, “If you write a novel in Word, we promise not to take a 30% cut” and “Likewise, if you deliver a speech in PowerPoint, we promise not to take 30% of your speaking fees“.
In the three days following the launch, over 350,000 textbooks were downloaded from the iBookstore and iBooks Author was downloaded over 90,000 times from the Mac App Store. Apple’s efforts were also described by Trip Chowdhry, an analyst for Global Equities Research, as “[Apple's] success in the textbook industry.”