Monday, January 23, 2012

iSay No

     Apple's latest revolutionary and magical contribution comes in the form of digital textbooks, dubbed iBooks 2.  Available for iPad only, iBooks 2 has been promised to revolutionize education with its interactive interface that allows students to watch videos and take quizzes direct from their iPads.  The books will be sold for around $15, but there's a couple problems.  First, they're only available on iPads.  That's it.  So for iBooks to truly "revolutionize" education, the school district will either have to provide iPads for its students, or the students will have to buy iPads for themselves to access their textbooks.  And since these textbooks are so feature-rich, I don't think they would be compatible with normal textbooks.  But the worst part about it is their license agreement.  Part of Apple's EULA for iBooks 2, from zdnet.com:

  •  (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.
And then the next paragraph is bold-faced, just so you don’t miss it:
Apple will not be responsible for any costs, expenses, damages, losses (including
without limitation lost business opportunities or lost profits) or other liabilities you may
incur as a result of your use of this Apple Software, including without limitation the fact that your Work may not be selected for distribution by Apple

Basically, Apple is saying that if you make anything in their iBooks Author program, you must sell it through iBooks, and you cannot sell it anywhere else.  If Apple doesn't like it, you have a brand new interactive textbook on your hands, and nothing to do with it.  Sure, you can give it away for free, but I don't see many people just giving textbooks away, especially ones like these.  Its format may not even be compatible with the industry standards of ebooks today (EPUB). Apple is being very Apple-y again with their limited and closed policies.  Unfortunately, I can't say I'm surprised.

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