Dan Wineman is (understandably) less than pleased with one aspect of Apple’s new iBooks Author.
Apple is trying to establish a rule that whatever I create with this application, if I sell it, I have to give them a cut. And iBooks Author is free, so this arrangement sounds pretty reasonable. Here’s the problem: I didn’t agree to it.
Wineman is right, in that if you export your newly-created book in “iBooks format,” you can only sell it through the iBookstore. However, I’m not quite sure it’s as nefarious as Wineman thinks it is—or rather, it’s probably nefarious for different reasons.
When you export a book in iBooks format, you get an
.ibooks file on your desktop. It’s clearly a relative of EPUB—you can drag the file onto BBEdit and it’ll open it as if it were an EPUB, for instance. But it isn’t. It has a mimetype of “application/x-ibooks+zip”. This doesn’t appear to be Apple’s proprietary fixed-layout EPUB, because some of the required elements for that are missing. But while it’s close to EPUB 3, I don’t think it is. It doesn’t have the required navigation document, for a start. The content files are full of references to very iBooks-specific things (and the stylesheets are, weirdly, linked in using XML syntax, not XHTML or HTML5), and the CSS files contain
-ibooks- vendor-specific attributes. Some of these appear to be from CSS3 modules that EPUB 3 has adopted, but not all—and of course there’s no reason to be using vendor-specific prefixes unless you’re expecting your output to be, well, vendor-specific.
So Apple’s “audacity” is that they’ve created a snazzy creation tool that, from all appearances, only works with their viewers. Wineman is correct in that it’s the license, not the technology, that prevents you from taking a
.ibooks file and selling it somewhere other than Apple’s store. But you don’t have much reason to sell something this thing creates outside Apple’s store, ’cause it ain’t gonna be creating those snazzy multimedia books for your Kindle Fire.