Yesterday, Apple announced iBooks Author, a new Mac app that lets people create and distribute ebooks for the iPad. Immediately following the gleeful fanboygasms came the equally predictable backlash, like this piece in ZDNet that called the app’s end-user license agreement (EULA) “mind-bogglingly greedy and evil.”
This reaction confuses me, because iBooks Author’s EULA says exactly what I expected it to say, namely that you can’t sell the books you make with iBooks Author through any distributor except Apple.
Why is this even a surprise? For one thing, iBooks Author is free. It’s obviously intended to ease creation of content for sale through iTunes, because Apple makes a ton of money on those content sales. Why would they make a free tool that would let users create content for other platforms? Why is not doing so “greedy” and “evil”?
On a more practical level, it’s frankly not that big a deal. If you’re formatting a traditional book (i.e. only words), then the process should mostly involve cutting and pasting those words from your .doc file. You will have to format your ePubs for other distributors separately, which is a drag mostly because ePub-formatting programs suck (when we publish books here at C4, we use Smashwords; it’s not perfect but it is better and easier than other formatting and publishing options we’ve tried).
So yes, Apple has not given you a free, easy, universal ePub creator. But iBooks Author isn’t geared toward creating plain old ePubs anyway, it’s specifically geared toward creating “Multi-Touch books for iPad.” In other words, this sort of thing. Because iBooks Author simplifies the formatting process, the rich-media interactive ebooks you make with it will almost certainly only work on an iPad. Even if you could export them to universal ePubs, they would look like garbage on all other devices.
Apple won’t own your copyright, your content, or the versions you make for all other platforms. You’re free to use that content however you please, even according to that reactionary ZDNet writer’s reading of the EULA. Claims that “only Apple can ever publish your work” are simply not true.
So everybody please calm down about this EULA. It’s not nearly as greedy or evil as they’d have you believe.
Recently, Apple’s been feeling its oats, and Steve Jobs has been picking fights with absolutely everybody, even bloggers who just want a portable porn pad. Here’s a breakdown of the two biggest Apple fights out there.
And by the way, Google’s launching its own ebookstore, which I’m guessing and hoping will use Adobe ePub formatting. Meaning neither Apple nor Amazon customers will be able to read Google ebooks. Because Apple hates Adobe, too! Why? Well, more on that after the jump… … Continue reading »
Basically, nobody wants to shut up about the new Apple tablet (supposedlydubbed the iPad–consider it nominated for this week’s dumbest new ereader name award). It’s slated to be revealed today, so I’m not going to bother parsing out the rumors. This one bit about pricing strategies and the coming battle between Apple and Amazon is interesting though. Not sure where B&N is in all this. I guess they probably shouldn’t have f-ed up the Nook launch so badly. Perhaps they are waiting for a boost from Apple? If you’re foolishish enough to get a first generation iPad (thus ignoring Apple’s track record of vastly superior second gen devices), here are some other fun uses for it.
It’s kinda old news, but apparently colleges are being sued for using ereaders in classrooms because blind students can’t use them. How using a braille edition to supplement a Kindle (which reads books–poorly–out loud) is less fair than if the other students use deadtree, I do not understand. It won’t help the blind, but if you’ve no backlight on your ereader and can’t figure out how to turn on your lamp, try this dongle. This Boogie Board doodle toy isn’t an ereader (and probably isn’t much use to anyone not a basketball coach) but it does seem pretty cool, and uses no power at that.
We’ll be posting on Friday about some of the many changes we have planned for our second year. There’s a lot of good stuff planned, and we’ll be getting bigger and better as time goes on. Check back Friday for that.
Here’s our last links update of the decade. First though, we’ve updated our eReader Comparison page as well as our Best Ways to Get eBooks, so check them out. Both will be seeing quite a few more updates in the coming weeks and months as much is happening with ereaders and ebook sellers. In fact, we’ve got a lot of changes planned for C4 in the near future as well; we’ll be posting on many of them at some point in January. Also, be sure to check out our Best Books of 2009 series if you haven’t already. We’ll be continuing the series through January.
Before we get to the links, a little site promotion: I was Christmas shopping for books today and I wanted to get a mystery novel for my grandfather. Where did I look? Why the C4 Book Reviews section of course. Give it another peek, maybe you’ll find some gift ideas of your own. Also, check out our Best Books of 2009 feature, which will be updated Mondays through January. Well, enough of that…
I walked by a SonyStyle store the other day, and I have to admit they’re doing a good job of pushing their Readers in brick and mortar stores (I’ve also seen them in Best Buy stores amongst others as well). And while they have a decent selection of models, I’m not sure these themed Readers are quite necessary. In other ereader news, the Aiptek Storybook inColor is pretty neato looking, though I still don’t think an LCD ereader is ever going to really fly. The Aluratek Libre has a nice pricetag, but the same LCD concern still applies. (Before you poo-poo me, electronic ink–in our opinion–really does make a huge difference. Here are my initial impressions of the tech from last spring.)
The COOL-ER is getting a hardware upgrade, making it marginally cool-er in the eyes of the other wallflower ereaders. And there’s lots of Applet Tablet rumors floating around this week, but I’m not going to link to any, beacause I’m sick of them. We’ll discuss an Apple Tablet and its secondary ereader abilites only when (if) it actually gets announced. Here’s a review of the Sungale Cyberus, which also doesn’t look all that impressive.
So after taking last Wednesday off for haiku, we’re back with two weeks’ worth of scuttlebutt:
Creative (maker of the iPod’s poor, homely, and ignored cousin) threw their hat into the ring with the Zii Mediabook. I’d like to go on the record as saying this is an even dumber name than Nook or Alex. Speaking of, the makers of the Alex have sued Barnes & Noble over the Nook’s dual screen design. Also with dual screens, I can’t decide if the Entourage Edge looks cool or crappy, but I’m leaning toward crappy.
The inexpensive Jetbook Lite is available now (thanks to reader Ben for the heads up). And on the horizon, ASUS wants in the ereader game after all their netbook success. And so does Bridgestone, after all their tire success? It’s bendy, which is cool. Apparently there are some snazzy new E-Ink processor chips in the pipeline, so hopefully we’ll seem even more creative new tech soon. Lots of ereader hype this selling season, might we finally be at the verge of the Great eReader Adoption?
(You might have seen the outline for this post pop up in your RSS feed last week; my apologies for the oversight.)
A couple of weeks ago, I summarized new and recent ereader additions. This week, let’s look forward at some upcoming devices. If there’s a trend emerging, it’s that touchscreens and 3G access are quickly becoming standard features, which is great news.
A quick note before we start: take the information here with a grain of salt. I’ve tried to cite my sources when possible, but even cited information should be considered rumor until these devices actually come out.
The Plastic Logic Whatzamawhoozit
Even though it doesn’t have a name yet, this is the device I’m most excited about. Even the earliest videos of the PL in action (this one was posted a year ago) showed a slick touchscreen with no contrast compromise and a sleek form factor.
Barnes & Noble hopped on as the primary book provider, and AT&T’s involvement combined with the large screen suggests newspapers will be a big target.
It’ll be crucial to see exactly how the touchscreen works. Is it fast? Is the contrast still as good as it looks? Can you write freehand on it? If this video features the same screen used in the ereader, it looks pretty much unbreakable, so that’s nice.
The other big question is price. Some have reported that the PL will be competitive with the Kindle, which we’re hoping means a $300 price point. Realistically, I think that’s a little too good to be true. I’m guessing closer to $500, but I’d be happy to be wrong. I also heard a rumor about a smaller size somewhere, but I can’t find any evidence of that now.
Last, B&N is reportedly developing “their own flavor” of ePub for the PL. I’m not sure why. Incompatibility kind of defeats the purpose of using a universal file format.
I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks recently. They oprovide a great way to multitask (at work, the gym, driving) while plowing through some new books. Paying hardcover prices on iTunes for audiobooks seems a little rediculous to me, especially seeeing how more or less useless audiobooks are once you’ve finished them. That is, if its not a book you plan to re-enjoy soon, there’s little it can do besides waste space. Revisiting sections and searching for quotesor passages is more cumbersome than it is worth.
So I though about getting into a subscription based audiobook program to keep up with newer books, but then I decided just to start borrowing audiobooks from the library and ripping them to my computer. In the meantime, I began getting audiobooks from a site called LibriVox, where volunteers upload recordings of readings from public domain books. I was immediately (and still am a little) astounded at the high quality of the readings and recordings. They are pleasant and professional. They are also free. … Continue reading »