This post is a reaction to reading Holly Lisle’s recent article: The Apple iBooks Author Issue: Small things, and large principles in which she talks about a clause in the user agreements for the iBooks Author program. I encourage you to hop over and check out her article, and the article she links to which gives a bit more explanation about the clause. I’m always grateful for people who can explain these agreements in ways that don’t make you want to spork your eyeballs out.
Now, I’m just hoping I get this right because these things are confusing to me, so be nice. But what I gather is that Holly’s pissed because the iBooks user agreement says that if you use iBooks to create an ebook (and I believe you must use it to get into the iBookstore without a third party like Smashwords), and that book is rejected by the iBookstore, you can’t take that copy of your work and sell it elsewhere.
To be clear, Apple’s not saying it owns the intellectual content of the book, but it owns the format produced by its software enough to have a say in what you can do it with it.
And that’s shitty and wrong for all the reasons mentioned in the two articles mentioned above, and if adopted by others spells out DOOM and virtual apocalypse and the end of the Life As We Know It, etc.
But it is a shock?
No. This is Apple! Have I created ebooks using iBooks Author? No. Because it’s Mac-only software. As far as I know, I cannot put books directly into the iBookstore as I can the Kindle, NOOK, or Smashwords stores because I don’t own a Mac, so I can’t run the software which is the exclusive way to get in there. If I want to put my book there myself, I’m expected to buy (and learn!) a whole new computer system.
I don’t like Apple’s exclusivity. I don’t deny that they have a right to be as exclusive as they wanna be (and that other companies have the right to to do things like make mobile versions of digital comics only available to Apple devices). I don’t have to like it. And I don’t have to give in, get an Apple device and set myself up to do more business with Apple (or the few cell phone providers who can support the device) for the life of the device. And I don’t have to buy the products of companies which can’t get a move on and release their products for the devices I will buy.
That’s my protest. That’s between me and Apple. In the last few years at my house that’s included a couple laptops, a couple MP3 players, an ereader, a tablet, and a smartphone. I like to adopt early. It’s hard to keep up and it seems to make things easier. But I’ll get behind on some tech rather than bind myself up in exclusivity battles. (Did I buy a Kindle? No. I waited until my Sony Reader was wretchedly behind the times and then I bought a NOOK Color and rooted it so it could use the Kindle app so I could shop where I wanna shop.)
I totally admire what Holly says here:
And there is no number of people affected that is insignificant. The smallest minority is the individual, and minority rights protect the rights of the individual because those are the only rights there are.
I would agree with that. Don’t use the software. I hope Holly chooses to find another way into the iBookstore because this is where our opinions diverge.
Apple may lose some revenue from the loss of Holly and perhaps of others who follow her lead. But also at a loss for the content they want are the fans who have already invested in Apple’s devices. Pulling content from the marketplace that serves that segment of her fan base puts those fans in the crossfire of her dispute with Apple. (Just like pulling content from NOOK to make it exclusive to Kindle in KDP Select is a smack to a segment of fans). And I’m not iHater enough to say that’s what they deserve for investing in Apple devices. (Of course you’d think they’d be able to purchase content at other places and sideload it if necessary, but we know that’s beyond the technical capabilities of some, and, at any rate, I feel like my job is to think of the people who actually support my work whenever I can.)
The whole thing to me is like… I don’t know. I guess it feels like you marry a jealous, possessive, controlling man because he drives a stylish automobile, knows the latest hot spots, and comes in fashion colors, and then suddenly you’re surprised when he wants to start telling you what to do? If a guy starts slinging a lot of proprietary formats in your general direction, take the hint about what kind of relationship this is going to be and shop elsewhere.
I’m not trying to rag on those of you who own and love your Apple devices for all the reasons you own and love them. There IS a lot to love. And I AM frequently jealous of you while I’m sitting on the outside looking in at your app store. I’m sure your OS is as elegant as you say it is and whatever else. But that relationship is not for me, and this is the kind of thing that reaffirms my stance on buying Apple goods.
But as much as it does, I don’t think pulling out of that marketplace entirely is right answer to this event. What about you guys? Anyone else inspired to pull out of the iBookstore because of the iBooks Author license agreement? Do you plan to just dump the software and get back in through Smashwords, or boycott the store entirely? For those who shop the iBookstore, will this be a problem for you? Would you shop elsewhere for your favorites?