January 21, 2012

SO MUCH FOR THAT E-TEXTBOOK DEAL: Apple’s mind-bogglingly greedy and evil license agreement.

UPDATE: Reader David Rubenstein disagrees:

I have to disagree with your implication that Apple’s E-textbook deal is a bad deal for authors – and with the sentiment of the article you linked. That was my initial reaction when I originally learned the terms. But last night I watched the keynote product launch and changed my mind.

First, Apple is giving away the tool to create the e-textbooks. So they need to make money somewhere.

Second, watching how you can use the tool to create the textbook, it is clear that it is a tool for formatting rather than creation. (Though it can be used for both.) The text and images can (and should?) be created in other applications (such as Word, Pages, Keynote, etc.), then dragged and dropped into the new text book creating application for final formatting. Done this way, authors will not be precluded form selling the materials as dead tree text books, epub books, etc.

Based on this, why should Apple give the application away and then let you sell the final product elsewhere? Let others figure out ways to create quality e-textbooks on their own dime. But publishers should be smart enough to create their content in a way as to not tie it up with Apple – just the format. Now let Amazon and B&N create similar tools and launch an e-textbook arms race.

Just my two cents. And I reserve all rights to question the effectiveness of e-textbooks over the dead tree variety. Though I certainly would not have minded lugging fewer texts around with me back in the day.


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