A lot if this and that has surrounded Apple’s announcement of iBooks Author in the last, oh, 24 hours. But, before you get way too excited, there are some huge caveats that cripple the viability of this free software.
Apple is innovative … I’m an Apple fangirl through and through. I own an iPhone, my husband has taken over my iPad, I write on an Air that recently replaced my Pro. I have zero qualms when it comes to the utterly beautiful machines Apple produces and the software that accompanies them — heck, Garage Band taught me how to play two cords on my guitar.
There is plenty of software for the writer … Scrinever (or whatever), Storyist, good old fashion Word, Pages … the options are limited only to how much you want to spend, and free is always going to be a front-runner. But iBooks isn’t free, as in free-free.
iBooks has a few things going for it, one being the instant format for books that are otherwise complex, like research manuals or math books. It allows the author to invite a reader on an interactive ride through their work, which is, without a doubt ground breaking. It also boasts a beautiful interface … as do most applications from this heavy hitting company. iBooks essentially takes the task of writing and spins it on it’s pretty little creative head.
… BUT …
iBooks has some pretty sneaky ways of manipulating the author. The grandest being that the AUTHOR doesn’t own the work … Apple does. Of course, Apple will pay you … but, only if they agree it’s publishable … and if it’s not, and you decide to say “f-em … what do they know” … then be prepared to give your work away for free because you simply cannot sell it anywhere else. Nope, sorry. Not Amazon, not Smashwords. You, the writer of this original context, will be crippled by Apples end-all/be-all judgements.
Of course, from what I’ve read, you have the option to export your work elsewhere to another writing software … but … strike all that beautiful formatting, because it will vanish before your eyes.
But, what really sealed iBooks fate on my end was the review left by one user whom shall remain names … he said, and I quote …
“I’ve only had it for 90 seconds and I’ve already published a book. Incredible” (and 77 out of 120 agree with him)
No, not incredible. There are a lot of choice words that can be used for what this guy did in 90 seconds … but incredible fails to be one … epically fails, actually.
Incredible is writing a book with merit. Incredible is taking the time to produce a product worthy of production … can that honestly be done in 90 seconds? I think not-so-much. What are we pushing here? Steamed rice. You can’t even cook a Cup o’ Noodles in 90 seconds for crying out loud. I’m pretty horrified actually.
The product detail from Apple reads like this:
Now anyone can create stunning iBooks textbooks, cookbooks, history books, picture books, and more for the iPad. All you need is an idea and a Mac. Start with one of the Apple-designed templates that feature a wide variety of page layouts. Add your own text and images with drag-to-drop ease. Use multi-touch widgets to include interactive photo galleries, movies, Keynote presentations, 3-D objects, and more. Preview your book on your iPad at any time. Then submit your finished work to the iBook store with a few simple steps. And before you know it, you’re a published author!
I have to look at this … this “software” … as a giant step backwards. One that makes really sad. I can tell you whats coming without the benefit of a crystal ball or premonitions … highly unedited books, sloppy writing, and overzealous drag-and-drop users who will grow spiteful with time when their “90-seconds-or-less-book” is rejected … which probably only means they’ll start showing up on Amazon and Smashwords.
This is a sad day for those of us who actually take this whole writing thing seriously.