Less than a week ago, Apple delivered a groundbreaking announcement with the release of iBooks Author. A drag-and-drop authoring environment, Author makes it easy to build media-rich, interactive books in a simple-to-use tool. Positioned by its i-name as a sibling to the iWork app family, versus separate high-end design products like GarageBand, Author democratizes the production of complex structured books, notably including textbooks.
But for libraries, at a time when they are increasingly struggling to provide access to ebooks as publishers pull back from lending support, Apple has provided a rib-crunching blow by delivering proprietary output tied to the iPad. And, in Apple???s license terms, any iBook created by Author can be distributed freely, but commercial sales must run through the iBookstore. This has generated a great deal of disappointment from those who wished to see Apple release a general purpose ebook creation tool.
All commercial sales of the output must pay tithe to the Apple channel.