Apple Reaps Criticism From iBooks Author Terms and Conditions

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.

iBooks Author T&C

The terms and conditions of Apple's iBooks Author (which continue for another 132 pages!)

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.”


Add Yours
  • In the near future:

    It won’t be possible to install software (downloaded from the internet) on an iMac without a jailbreak

  • This will guarantee that at no time will any of our work even be licensed to Apple. No loss, since its available in every other ebook format and six languages world wide. My advice to any established author is to give Apple the bittersweet kiss (off) goodbye.

    And mac users can always download and use any ebook reader from any other major ebook distributor.

  • I’m pulling my books from iBooks. The old agreement was bad enough.

  • “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.”

    So … let me see. Are you saying that I can write a novel and when I’m done expect that Simon and Shuster will publish it?

    • No, but you could shop it around to other publishers, or self-publish. Apple’s terms seem to prohibit doing similarly with any “Work” you might create using iBook Author.

  • To be fair to apple, the appropriate comparison to “writing a book in word” would be “writing a book in pages”, in which case Apple also wouldn’t take a cut. The new iBooks system isn’t about a new creation method, although they have created that, but a distribution system. A good analogy is that you can make iPhone apps and Android apps for free and even distribute them for free but if you want to be in the app store/android market, you will pay a fee. This is no different than in any other “distribution centric” environment, including if you were to, for example, publish a book with a good old fashioned hard copy book distributor.

    The fact that anyone expected the system to work in any way other than this demonstrated either a profound misunderstanding and/or ignorance of how these types of markets have ALWAYS worked or, as I suspect in the case of the MS twitter comment, just sour grapes and an attempt at disseminating bad PR unjustifiably.

  • And just to add to, or perhaps to clarify what I think Khurt was saying, having standards for book quality has always been around in the publishing arena, so why do we expect this to not apply to digital books all of a sudden? While it is true that Apple might reject a book that you worked on, it is also true that exactly the same thing can happen in hardcopy publishing. Do you really think that if you show up to McGraw Hill and say, “I wrote this book, it’s not very good. Publish it anyway.” that they are going to gladly slap their name on it? There exist “self publishing” websites and companies precisely because there exists a large enough population of people who tried to write a book and were turned down by professional publishers.

  • Thank you for going through all the 133 pages of fine print that the rest of us so blatently accept without reading.

  • I think it’s all lawyer talk. I’ve been seeing many apps and book titles in App Store that I would’ve thought would be rejected are in there. I think most authors are going to be just fine getting their stuff in the store. Apple is just doing their usual business cover-our-tail routine. But it’s still good to make noise and voice concerns out loud so Apple would know that they can’t just shove their policy down our throat and expect that we will swallow it. ;)

  • Where can I find the complete 133 page Terms & Conditions?