On Thursday Apple introduced iBook Author, a new authoring tool that makes creating interactive iBooks as easy as putting together a Keynote presentation. By making it easy to bring content to life, Apple hopes to revolutionize learning and revitalize the market for textbooks in education.
The business model that Apple has chosen for iBook Author is to give the product away for free and make money when books created using iBook Author are sold in the iBooks Store. As part of the license agreement, you can give away books that were created using iBook Author for free, but if you sell them you have to use Apple’s iBook Store.
This has sparked a number of strong reactions. ZDNet’s Ed Bott wrote an article titled “Apple’s mind-bogglingly greedy and evil license agreement” and Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, usually the voice of cool and common sense, described the practice as “Apple at its worst“.
This manufactured controversy is grossly inappropriate. iBook Author is nothing more than an authoring tool that produces a document in an open file format. Apple is giving away a free tool to support its own platform. There are plenty of other ways to create electronic text books. Companies like Adobe will surely step in and offer fantastic authoring tools that support a multitude of file formats and electronic bookstores. Much ado about nothing.