January 20, 2012

Apple iBooks Author and The Walled Content Garden

Here is a great early review of Apple's new iBooks Author application by my colleague, Ben Vanderberg. I would like to comment further on the platform.

The world would be a better place if Apple built these tools to include export mechanisms for other platforms. Apple is more than welcome to make it easier to publish content directly to the iBookstore. However, there isn't a publisher on Earth that is going to build a publishing strategy to deliver content to just one device, and neither Apple, Amazon, Google, nor anyone else is going to muscle the marketplace into a device monopoly.

Certainly it is Apple's prerogative to create one-click solutions directly to their publishing platform. However, the vast majority of publishers and authors want to deliver their content to multiple channels, and by not exporting an interchange ePub3 file, iBooks Author requires them to go through the same editorial processes with other software in order to deliver books to these other devices.

Granted, iBooks Author is a free application that Apple put out there for its own business purposes, ostensibly to drive sales of more iPad devices in competition with other vendors who do not (yet) offer consumers an application to create rich, interactive text book experiences. However, what if Apple had created something that allowed for multi-channel delivery of interactive textbooks across devices? The software would not only achieve great popularity at the prosumer level, but would also allow for wider corporate publishing adoption.

iBooks Author as a cross-platform interactive ebook publishing tool with special hooks added to make it easier for publishers to deliver content to the iPad is far more of a valuable application than the one that Apple has delivered us this week.

Posted at 12:59 pm by Joseph Bachana

If Amazon frustrates publishers with its proprietary format I don't understand why these same publishers line up to do business with Apple, whose restrictive tactics seem worse. I've read that the licensing agreement won't allow the publishers to sell their titles through any other store besides Apple...which of course will take a 30% bite. Perhaps worst of all is the idea that schools (read: parents) will have to pony up $500 to buy the device. It doesn't seem like schools will receive any benefit if you listen to the ceo of McGraw-Hill. They'll get their $75 per book over 5 years instead of once every five years.

So the digital divide becomes even wider. Nice legacy.

Thanks for the post Joe.

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Adobe Digital Publishing Suite Consulting for McGraw-Hill Education

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