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Monday, January 23, 2012

If You Use Apple's Software, You Can Only Sell Your Book Through Apple

Posted by on Mon, Jan 23, 2012 at 1:40 PM

Slog tipper Levi sent along this very interesting post about Apple's new iBooks Author software, which is supposed to make e-book creation easy. Turns out, if you make a book in iBooks, you can only sell the iBook through Apple:

I have never seen a EULA as mind-bogglingly greedy and evil as Apple’s EULA for its new ebook authoring program.

Dan Wineman calls it “unprecedented audacity” on Apple’s part. For people like me, who write and sell books, access to multiple markets is essential. But that’s prohibited:

Apple, in this EULA, is claiming a right not just to its software, but to its software’s output. It’s akin to Microsoft trying to restrict what people can do with Word documents, or Adobe declaring that if you use Photoshop to export a JPEG, you can’t freely sell it to Getty. As far as I know, in the consumer software industry, this practice is unprecedented.

Exactly: Imagine if Microsoft said you had to pay them 30% of your speaking fees if you used a PowerPoint deck in a speech.

There seems to be a real battle over this in the tech world: Apple apologists are saying that if you want to make an e-book to sell through and other outlets, you can still do that through non-iBooks Author means. But if you want to use Apple's easy-to-use. free software, you should be restricted to Apple's market. Basically: Apple doesn't own the words, just the software that created the book.


Comments (38) RSS

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Will in Seattle 1
Copyright only belongs to People.

Corporations are not People.

Including Apple.
Posted by Will in Seattle on January 23, 2012 at 1:42 PM · Report this
I despise and fear Apple, but I've seen pushback against this line of attack, defenders of Apple saying that the license agreement restricts your rights to sell the version formatted using Apple's software, but you retain copyright and are free to format the underlying information using another's software and sell that version elsewhere. This is very much as happens for example with publication of scientific papers by for-profit journals: you own the manuscript, they own the PDF with their typeface and formatting, etcetera. Are you sure this isn't the case?
Posted by Warren Terra on January 23, 2012 at 1:46 PM · Report this
So if I write a song and then record it in GarageBand, I can only sell that recording through iTunes (if they accept it), but I'm free to rerecord it in another format and do whatever I want with it. That sounds totally fair, right?
Posted by Levislade on January 23, 2012 at 1:47 PM · Report this
Alicia 4
Along with @2 and @3: it seems to me that this new Apple software is trying to be deliberately multimedia. They're trying to build a less text-based, more experience-based book-type thing with songs and graphs and sidebars and all manner of bells and whistles. The idea being then that you can still take the text, strip the bells and whistles, and put it up on Smashwords or what have you -- but the Apple version will still seem fancier or more complete. It's like selling one DVD with just the movie, and another DVD with the movie, the deleted scenes, interviews with the cast, and commentary tracks.

Or else it will be like those trade paperback books that have book club questions bundled into them. Has any human being ever read those?
Posted by Alicia on January 23, 2012 at 1:57 PM · Report this
get a clue 5
"If you are getting something for free, you are the product"
Posted by get a clue on January 23, 2012 at 1:58 PM · Report this
HelpMeJebus 6
I can't believe anyone is surprised or upset by this. Guess what? You're not forced to use iBooksAuthor.

Calling it "mind-bogglingly greedy" is sky-high rhetoric. If you make a book that sells really well, you'll be handsomely rewarded, with a cut going to Apple for making the software you used to create it and providing the platform for you to sell it - a platform that handles collecting payment and distributing your product.

Why not ask any of the bazillion iOS App developers, who are making a nice living from selling their apps, if they mind giving up a cut to Apple.

The Microsoft dick-suckers need to STFU.
Posted by HelpMeJebus on January 23, 2012 at 1:59 PM · Report this
seandr 7
I still can't believe Apple takes 30% of the profits of everything in the iTunes store.
Posted by seandr on January 23, 2012 at 2:01 PM · Report this
I'd say that what you describe wouldn't be fair, assuming all Garageband is doing is recording the audio (I'm not familiar with Garageband - I suppose it's possible that it does something to make the recording dramatically better), but I don't think it's a good parallel.

If you were to record your song without using Apple software and then use Apple software to convert the recording to AAC, or MP4, or MP3, and perhaps use Apple software to add features to the recording, and you'd known going in that the resulting product of Apple software could only be sold through Apple, I'd not see that as a betrayal or infringement. But I would certainly recommend under those circumstances that the only thing you should do with Apple software would be to format a finished product for sale through Apple.
Posted by Warren Terra on January 23, 2012 at 2:01 PM · Report this
HelpMeJebus 9
@7, why not?

They build the device, they provide the software for making apps for it for free (guess how much Visual Studio is? Hint: not free), they collect payments, manage the customer support, and handle distribution.

Seems a pretty decent deal, and obviously numerous app developers agree.
Posted by HelpMeJebus on January 23, 2012 at 2:03 PM · Report this
@#6 The question is what Apple is taking credit for and claiming the rights to. If its the formatting their software provided, that's all well and good. Not great (because being Apple they won't let you sell anything not formatted using their software on their site, such that it will be a lot of extra work to sell the same product through Apple and through the rest of the world), but not egregious. If on the other hand they own the information being formatted, that's rather more problematic. And this has nothing to do with Microsoft.

@#7 I don't have any problem with Apple claiming a cut of everything that goes through the store, but their policies to require that ever-more transactions must go through the store, and give them a cut, are a real problem. The obvious examples are the Sony and Amazon Kindle e-book reading platforms, or online magazine subscriptions such as the New Yorker, which used to send users to a website to purchase new content before Apple ruled that any content that can be purchased through an app must be available for purchase through the App Store at the same price. Note that last bit: if you're the New Yorker and you're offering an App that can display the magazine to subscribers, you are required to sell the subscription through the App Store at the same price as through your own website, even though you must give Apple a 30% cut.
Posted by Warren Terra on January 23, 2012 at 2:08 PM · Report this
I want to change my impulsive vote to "It's fine"

Don't like what Apple lets you do with their products? Don't buy them. Or, in this case, don't use them for free.

If you can't make your text book readable and effective using only Notepad (or vim, for the elitists), you're probably a shitty writer.
Posted by Swearengen on January 23, 2012 at 2:12 PM · Report this
Apple has always been fucking evil. Where have you been?

I guess anyone who makes an image through Photoshop should have that owned by Adobe, then?
Posted by Drew2u on January 23, 2012 at 2:16 PM · Report this
Where else did you expect to sell these books? It's called iBooks author, not eBooks author. Anyway, no other e-reader would recognize the file format iBooks Author creates.

It's basically the same setup as selling an app on the iPhone. You can't sell the apps you create with XCode and Interface Builder anywhere but the app store.

So far it seems to be working out for myself and the thousands of other iOS developers out there that can finally make a living as independent developers making great software.
Posted by Steven J Baughman on January 23, 2012 at 2:16 PM · Report this
Apple is highly anti-competitive. To the degree you want a functioning free-market, you should be very concerned about the shit that Apple does every single day.
Posted by Faber on January 23, 2012 at 2:16 PM · Report this
@7 - Why? They handle payment processing, fulfillment, 'promotion', hosting, and a ton of other silly things I'd rather not have to deal with. The WinPhone Marketplace takes the exact same cut, but it lacks the humongous installed base of iOS devices that the App Store offers.

@9 - He's very aware of what premium Visual Studio SKUs cost ;)
Posted by aaronbrethorst on January 23, 2012 at 2:21 PM · Report this
It's basically the same setup as selling an app on the iPhone. You can't sell the apps you create with XCode and Interface Builder anywhere but the app store.

This works in both directions: Apple has refused to sell apps written using others' software and recompiled to run in iOS, and I assume (though I don't know) that iBooks will not accept books formatted using others' software.
Posted by Warren Terra on January 23, 2012 at 2:23 PM · Report this
@16: no longer true. Two examples: Microsoft's Kinectimals was built using MonoTouch, and Machinarium was built using Flash (…).
Posted by aaronbrethorst on January 23, 2012 at 2:26 PM · Report this
Dougsf 18
The GarageBand analogy is a weird one... there's as much music for sale in the iTunes store created on GarageBand as there are movies created with iMovie.

I'm hearing iBooks alternately referred to in terms of being a dev kit, and as being free, novice-friendly e-book creation software. Can it be both, and why would it need to be? Is there worthwhile works being help up by an expensive e-book creation process? Is there some great demand for self-published works for your iPhone or iPad?

Posted by Dougsf on January 23, 2012 at 2:29 PM · Report this
Spelling this out in a click-through EULA is a ballsy move on Apple's part - the courts have been issuing mixed rulings over the past couple decades on whether shrinkwrap & click-thru contracts are binding.

I'm sure that some author will quickly export a PDF and publish it on another service, and then we'll have a solid court battle about EULAs.
Posted by Lack Thereof on January 23, 2012 at 2:40 PM · Report this
It's free software. Don't use it if you don't like it.
Posted by seattlebikeguy on January 23, 2012 at 2:55 PM · Report this
MarkyMark 21
Boo hoo hoo, mean ol' Apple won't give me a free eBook Author, waaaaah! wahhhh! I know, I'll lay down and hold my breath until my face turns blue, that'll teach 'em! Waahhhh!
Posted by MarkyMark on January 23, 2012 at 2:55 PM · Report this
internet_jen 22
I'm kind of weary of pirating software, I'm not knowledgeable enough to fix my machine if I download something that will mess it up. So I deal with free-ware a lot. There are oft these types of pitfalls. Open source software, though, is a slightly different animal than the free versions of for profit software.
Posted by internet_jen on January 23, 2012 at 3:05 PM · Report this
there'd be no vote if amazon pulled this.
it would be straight to the pitchforks.
Posted by feh on January 23, 2012 at 3:16 PM · Report this
To everyone saying "if you don't like it, don't use it," you have a point - up to a point. The thing is this rather key element to this software is buried in the EULA, which they know the bulk of people agreeing to it will never read (and sure, yeah, we should all read every word of every single license agreement we agree to - and there should be an extra few hours in each day in which to do that).

@16 . . . I don't get what you're saying. If you're criticizing my analogy, I don't understand your criticism.

But yeah, I don't like it, and I wouldn't use it, as I wouldn't use GarageBand if they had a similar clause.
Posted by Levislade on January 23, 2012 at 3:24 PM · Report this
seandr 25
@9, @15:
If Apple opened up its platform to competing stores, there's no way the market would continue to pay a 30% cut because the services they provide aren't worth half that amount. They get away with it only because they've made iTunes the only option. I say that's a shitty deal. But hey, I guess I'm spoiled - my overhead for selling software on the internet is more like 6-7%.

P.S. XCode is a rip off at $0. As someone who does a fair share of Mac development, I'd happily pay for some decent developer tools on that platform.
Posted by seandr on January 23, 2012 at 3:28 PM · Report this
@23: Amazon already did. What I don't understand is people can't see that.
Amazon bought Mobipocket years ago, made its .mobi format *exclusive*, so that if you wanted to sell a book through Amazon and get it on kindle, authors and e-book developers had to use the standard.
They locked you into the Kindle environment, even though ePub was perfectly viable. .mobi wasn't even an evolution in e-book coding and design, just a very proprietary version.

So now Apple develops a *multimedia* e-narrative program and everybody's bitching because you can't sell it on the Kindle site? Get over it; it's smart competition considering how Amazon tried and failed to completely corner the e-book market. Sure they have have a large slice of the pie, but it's only after years since the first kindle that they eased up and allowed ePub format and PDFs to be read on Kindles.
Posted by Vlad on January 23, 2012 at 3:28 PM · Report this
@17 The only reason Apple (now) allows apps made with other company's programming tools is because the DoJ threatened them with an antitrust lawsuit. It was actually comical how fast Jobs and Co backtracked when that happened.
Posted by UNPAID COMMENTER on January 23, 2012 at 3:34 PM · Report this
What is more interesting is that if Apple rejects your iBook, you still can't sell it through other channels. "Under this license agreement, you are out of luck. They won’t sell it, and you can’t legally sell it elsewhere. You can give it away, but you can’t sell it."

I think the bigger story tho is how they are moving away from EPUB. They are no better than Amazon now and that's a shame.…

I don't know who's going to champion the open standard for digital books now.
Posted by sisyphusgal on January 23, 2012 at 3:41 PM · Report this
Ugh. I hate how Apple has turned itself into this. I miss the happy times of fruity computers and iPods as thick as ice cream sandwiches.
Posted by The CHZA on January 23, 2012 at 3:44 PM · Report this
@26. that's correct, and now you can input epub or other reflowable text for kindle. and you can have your formatted and reviewed files back to sell elsewhere.

anyway, the snark is aimed at paul's amazon crusade. with apple, it's 'what do you think?' whereas with amazon it would have just been 'evil amazon! the death of publishing as we know it!'
Posted by feh on January 23, 2012 at 4:16 PM · Report this
@19, the Washington Supreme Court blessed click-through license provisions over 10 years ago.
Posted by Toe Tag on January 23, 2012 at 4:25 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 32
@28 - Yes, if they reject it you still can sell it through other channels. You'll just need to reformat it using e-book software that's not Apple's. It's not like they own your intellectual property just because you used their tool. But they do own theirs - the particular format that tool outputs to. (Frankly, I was a little bewildered at Paul's surprise at this revelation. My reaction was, "No duh!")

@25 - The author gets 70%. Try to get that deal from any paper publisher.
Posted by Free Lunch on January 23, 2012 at 5:50 PM · Report this
Sounds just like the EULA on TurboPascal and a few other compiling programs that we used to use waaay back in the 80's and 90's.

And what happened to those companies...?
Posted by Approaching 40 in LA on January 23, 2012 at 6:07 PM · Report this
seandr 34
@32: A traditional publisher's cut is determined by negotiation in the context of a healthy and competitive market.

Apple's 30% is determined entirely by Apple. You'd have to be an Apple dick-sucker to not be concerned about that kind of power.

@26: What makes Apple more scary than Amazon is that they are leveraging their very strong position in the phone/PDA/tablet market to dominate the publishing industry.
Posted by seandr on January 23, 2012 at 6:31 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 35
So, you think you could negotiate better than 70%? You are high.
Posted by Free Lunch on January 23, 2012 at 7:44 PM · Report this
seandr 36
@35: My software company clears 94% on sales. And I'm high.
Posted by seandr on January 23, 2012 at 10:14 PM · Report this
Kinison 37
Amazing what a difference 12 years make. Back then MS was an evil corporation and Steve Jobs was cool. Now Apple is the evil corporation and Bill Gates (through charitable work) is the cool one.

For the time being, Apple dominates mobile industry, but their desktop/laptop share really hasnt changed much.
Posted by Kinison on January 24, 2012 at 6:13 AM · Report this
DM1 38
Really, do they want to restrict literacy? The answer is yes, they do. Making books proprietary to Apple, proves again that Apple wants to own 100% of creative output. Totally typical with the way they operate. Next step for Apple, censorship.
Posted by DM1 on January 24, 2012 at 8:24 AM · Report this

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