iBooks Author on Mac & iPad

iBooks Author is an incredibly exciting piece of software for aspiring authors. Those who may be struggling to get their work published no longer have to convince a publishing house that their book will sell; they simply write it up and hit the publish button, and their work will appear — if approved — in the iBookstore.

The downside is, it’ll stay in the iBookstore. Any book you create within iBooks Author cannot be distributed elsewhere if you plan to charge for it. Not only does this limit your title’s reach, but it also means that for every book you sell, Apple takes a 30% cut of its revenue.

For many, this won’t be a problem; they’ll be happy to have their work exclusive to the iBookstore, and exclusive to Apple’s iOS devices. But let’s say you create a cheap “beginner’s guide” aimed at users who are new to the Mac and it turns out to be a huge success. You won’t be able to offer the title through Amazon’s Kindle store or the Google eBookstore, and you won’t be able to use its success as an example to publishing houses that your book really is worth selling.

Of course, Apple didn’t mention this rule during its unveiling of iBooks Author, but Dan Wineman who runs Venomous Porridge spotted it in the “About” section of the software’s end-user license agreement (EULA). This is what Apple says about the whole thing:

If you charge a fee for any book or other work you generate using this software (a “Work”), you may only sell or distribute such Work through Apple (e.g., through the iBookstore) and such distribution will be subject to a separate agreement with Apple.

B. Distribution of your Work. As a condition of this License and provided you are in compliance with its terms, your Work may be distributed as follows:

(i) if your Work is provided for free (at no charge), you may distribute the Work by any available means;

(ii) if your Work is provided for a fee (including as part of any subscription-based product or service), you may only distribute the Work through Apple and such distribution is subject to the following limitations and conditions: (a) you will be required to enter into a separate written agreement with Apple (or an Apple affiliate or subsidiary) before any commercial distribution of your Work may take place; and (b) Apple may determine for any reason and in its sole discretion not to select your Work for distribution.

What’s interesting about Apple’s rule is that it only applies to books that “you charge a fee for.” If your book is given away for free (and Apple can’t take 30% of its sales) you have the company’s permission to distribute it through alternative channels. Pretty sneaky, right?

But let’s not take anything away from iBooks Author. This is a terrific piece of software and it’s going to be huge, particularly for authors who are trying to get their first book into people’s hands. It’s just a shame that Apple’s approach won’t work for a large proportion of them.

What do you think to Apple’s rule? Would it discourage you from using iBooks Author to publish your work, or are you just relieved that someone finally made it really simply to publish an eBook?

[via Cult of Mac]