You Must Sell Your iBooks In The iBookstore And Apple Gets A 30% Cut


iBooks Author

Following the release of Apple’s self-publishing tool for the Mac today, iBooks Author, it’s clear that Apple wants to change the way books are created and published online. Specifically, Apple wants to bolster its own iBookstore with the best content, and authors will have to agree with that mission whether they want to or not. If you want to make money, it’s the iBookstore or the highway.

Some interesting findings in the end-user license agreement (EULA) for the free iBooks Author app reveal Apple’s ‘walled garden’ approach played out in yet another area of its business. Dan Wineman points to the “About” section of iBooks Author and the particularly detailed EULA that publishers must agree to when exporting iBooks for the iPad.

Not only does Apple get a 30% cut of all iBooks sold in the iBookstore, but publishers aren’t allowed to sell their books anywhere else. If you make your book in iBooks Author, you must sell it in the iBookstore or give it away for free somewhere else. You can only make a profit under Apple’s control, and your iBook can be pulled from the store at Apple’s discretion or not even approved in the first place.

Here’s the legal jargon:

If you charge a fee for any book or other work you generate using this software (a “Work”), you may only sell or distribute such Work through Apple (e.g., through the iBookstore) and such distribution will be subject to a separate agreement with Apple.

B. Distribution of your Work. As a condition of this License and provided you are in compliance with its terms, your Work may be distributed as follows:

(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.

Wineman explains this policy with a striking analogy:

It’s akin to Microsoft trying to restrict what people can do with Word documents, or Adobe declaring that if you use Photoshop to export a JPEG, you can’t freely sell it to Getty. As far as I know, in the consumer software industry, this practice is unprecedented.

For a free tool that’s supposed to revolutionize modern education, Apple seems to be approaching iBooks in the same way it did the App Store. Either you’re in, or you’re out. Only time will tell if that approach plays out in Apple’s favor.

  • Jonathon Wilson

    Seems fair enough.

  • Sean C.

    As an author I hate this, that’s like just because I wrote my book in Microsoft Word I can only sell me book to publishers and stores that Microsoft likes. Which is utter BS. If I make a book, that is 100% my book an author assuming I didn’t copy it or work with other writers. I can distribe MY book where I want to. Wither I sell a book made on a Apples software to Microsoft or distribute it only on Linux.
    As the creator of the content I have full rights over my content, Apple has no right to tell me what to do with my creation, they can however decide if my book makes their cut and distributed it on their creations, but I am free to do what I will with my own content.

  • adamdodson

    It’s just saying that if you use Apple’s software to develop your book, you can’t use that same file to go to another competing store. You can use another piece of software to develop for another bookstore.

    It’s all in the text.

  • OS2toMAC

    I don’t like this either, and I am not an author.  It would be akin to Apple not allowing music sold via iTunes to be available on CD at Walmart.

    They haven’t tried that, yet. But this make it seem as that would be a future possibility.

  • facebook-530293147

    That’s like saying (turn the WAYBACK MACHINE to the 1970’s or before) that if you used Brand X typewriter you can’t sell your book to Brand Y. The book is the authors intellectual property.  Or if you create artwork/Process photographs using Program X, you have to sell your work on X’s site only. 

    I strongly suggest authors use open source, cross platform book programs, and tell Apple where to stuff it.

  • Daniel Harris

    Not the same at all. You can still sell your book in other places. You just can’t sell the eBook file that you made with the iBooks Author application.

  • gnomehole

    I say let them… they will do it right, and if people don’t buy into it they will modify their requirements. Its been done before, with success.. .let APple be Apple and keep making money and giving us good products and you all stick to armchair idiocy.

  • dcj001

    Actually, it would be akin to Apple giving away software used to produce musical albums for free, and allowing the music produced by Apple’s free software to be sold via iTunes and not to be available on CD at Walmart.

  • Jonathon Wilson

    Exactly, no one is forcing you to use iBooks. I would pay good money just for that iBook publisher.

  • prof_peabody

    But you can read that MS Word document on many different devices.  AT the moment, you can only read these things on an iPad anyway, so it’s a bit of a tempest in a teapot IMO. 

  • Steve Ahlstrom

    So?  If you disagree, don’t use their free software to create your book.  Go buy Adobe’s or someone else’s.

  • Darren Rogers

    no its not, you are using their software to produce the book in the first place. not selling an existing song through itunes

  • Nathan Strik

    “…or Adobe declaring that if you use Photoshop to export a JPEG, you can’t freely sell it to Getty.”

    Yeah, but Photoshop costs 800 bucks… iBooks Author is free. I think Apple is well in it’s right to create the rules when you want to play in their walled garden, using their software and infrastructure, which took Apple a lot of money/time/effort to develop. If you don’t like it, develop your own solution, Apple isn’t twisting anybody’s arm here.

  • Srose428

    If you disagree with Apple being in full control, you must love android fragmentation or the sloppy implementation that is everything windows.  Shut up and get in line folks, the future is right through these guidelines.  

  • Ronald Stepp

    Isn’t the normal cut of a traditional publisher way worse than what apple does?  just wondering.

  • volodoscope

    Um! Much better than any publisher. You have to sell your soul to the devil and then not eat and become an object of profit for them, for years. 30% any day!

  • volodoscope

    Umm then take your book and sell it on your own. But,  your neighbor is gonna sell his on Apple’s eco-system that will be shown in front of MILLIONS and MILLIONS of people and become rich and famous.

  • Clark Wallace

    ePub files can easily be converted though so either way if you buy an ePub book you can convert it to be read on a Kindle for example.

  • mpmchugh

    Apple’s not claiming copyright on your content, or denying you the right to sell it elsewhere, it’s just the output to the iBook format for the iBook store, which make perfect sense. i.e. the iBook files output by the app are restricted, not your actual content.

    Apple is giving away a FREE piece of authoring software for the sole
    purpose of output for the iBookstore. The EULA just states as much.

    If you want to additionally sell your content elsewhere, you need to use an additional authoring tool for Kindle or what ever else.

    You analogy is just wrong.

  • mpmchugh

    As I mentioned to the commentator above, you’re misinterpreting the EULA. iBooks Author is not like Word. It’s a tool for selling iBooks in the iBook Store or giving them away for free. Apple’s not claiming they own your content at all, just the output of the tool they are letting you use for free. You can freely use another tool and sell it elsewhere.

  • Sean C.

    But any book created on this can not be sold in other places. It’s not the format, its the book itself. It has to be on iBook or it has to be free. As good as a 30% cut is I would prefer to offer an ebook on Kindle, Nook, iBook, PDF and so on everywhere I can get it instead of just Kindle or just iBook. Unless I am giving this away free then I can not do so.

  • Sean C.

    Yes but lots gets messed up in conversion like formatting. Not only that but lots of books have DMR.

  • Sean C.

    It is a tool for creating the format and look of an ebook. Apple has no rights in saying what I can or can not do with a file I create, nor does Adobe or Microsoft. If I want to use their tool I can, if they want my book in the iBook store and I do too, it will be, if they want my book that I possibly create to only be on the iBook store then they have no right. They do not claim your content, but control how you market or use your own content.

  • mpmchugh

    Again, they don’t own the content. Just the iBook file generated from the App. You can also assemble your content in another tool for sale elsewhere. You can offer your content in as many places for sale as you want, you just can’t use Apple’s tool to do so. It’s only for the version of your content to be sold on iBooks.

    Besides, the files generated by iBook Author likely won’t be 100% compatible elsewhere anyway, as it’s an ePub/HTML5 hybrid designed for the iBook Store.

  • mpmchugh

    You’re missing the point. The whole purpose of the iBooks Author tool is to author iBooks not eBooks. It’s a specific tool for a specific distribution channel, namely the iBook Store. They are not controlling your content, just the version of it created with this tool. You can create another version for sale elsewhere. All they are saying is you can’t use their tool, which they are letting you use for free, to assemble content for other channels. Yes, it’s more work for you then, if you want to also sell elsewhere, as you need to use another tool as well, but it’s their prerogative.

    Think of it this way. This is like a DRM for video. The versions of videos for iTunes are different than the ones for Amazon for instance, but the copyright holder can still sell their content in either store, but they need to use different DRM tools for each. Instead of a DRM, Apple’s using the iBook Author Tool and format for their channel only. You can still take your source material and format it for another channel using a different tool.

  • Dilbert A

    Just give up dude. They’re never going to understand.

  • mpmchugh

    I’m done.  ;-)

  • Shameer Mulji

    Exactly! Finally someone gets it.  It’s not as if Apple is saying you can’t produce your book with another tool or sell it on another store.  It’s only books produced using the .iba book format that cannot be sold through other book stores.  

    Take Xcode as an example.  It’s a free development tool.  Any app developed with that tool for commercial purposes must be sold only through the iOS or Mac App Store.  But you’re still allowed to use other tools to develop for Apple’s App Store or any other app store. Yet no one has a problem with this.

    So why should there be a problem with Apple’s stance on iBooks Author? The only extra thing I think Apple should do is release iBooks Author for Windows to help increase the generation of content for iBooks Store.

    • monsieurhasanshafiq

      So your “content”, the very words that flow from your mind, are still your property?

  • Shameer Mulji

    It’s very simple.  You own your content & can distribute on any book store you want.  The only PITA is if you will need to create a version of your book on iBooks Author for iBooks Store and another version using another tool, such as one of Adobe’s tools, which you will pay hundreds of dollars for, to distribute on other book stores.

    More than anything it becomes a management issue but your content is YOUR content.

  • Shameer Mulji

    Unfortunately, I think you’re right.

  • Jordan Clay

    Microsoft, actually, does the exact same thing.  They offer 2 versions of Office, the home/student edition that in the EULA actually has a clause like this.  If you want to ‘profit” off of the work you are creating you are supposed to purchase the PRO version.   

    This is FREE software.  I don’t know if he knows this, but Apple is a business, they have to make money off the products they create.  I think it is kinda nice that Apple gave the opportunity for ANYBODY to create and sell a free book, but only ask a small % fee if you want to profit off it.

  • Harold Kelly

    i love how people consider themselves authors without having been published, then complain about a tool like iBooks Author to make a book they have no content to put into.  I’m just saying.  I really appreciate the detail you went into for this.  It’s great!

  • techgeek01

    Are you sure….?

    I know that Microsoft has different versions of Office, but more you pay, more you get software wise.   I don’t remember exactly what you get with each version, but I do know that certain versions don’t come with x software. So maybe same thing? But maybe not? 

  • techgeek01

    My dear friend, fragmentation exists on everything.  sloppy implementation, windows? Maybe XP and/or Vista.  But Windows 7 and Windows 8.  Far, far from sloppy.  Great OSes.  On par with what Apple provides. Well, maybe not Lion. That is called by some people, Apple’s Vista. 

  • ticklemyelmo

    Why would Apple allow people to use their tool (they give out for free and undoubtly spent a lot of time and money to develop) to turn around and sell it on Amazon or Android or other competitors? That doesn’t make any business sense at all. From my understanding, Apple will not prevent you sell your books elsewhere, just the version of your book that you creates using iBook Author

  • Honyant

    Yes it’s terrible. Imagine if they sold an operating system  and the EULA said that you could not use not use it with a non Apple computer. :(

  • Thomas sutton

    As a writer this sounds chilling, how can they ask me to just limit myself to ibooks, but I’m not really surprised, if this was any other type of media that apple were selling i’d just shrug and say “It’s apple what do you expect” but because it’s hit home it seem bloody outrageous 

  • Roger Ramshit

    My guess is that a clarification of the EULA is coming (it better!).
    I think the output file of iBook author is only distributed thru iBookstore but you will be able to export to ePub/whatever and then reformat with another program and publish anywhere.

  • Andrew_X_Thomas

    Sean: One only hopes that “as an author” your books pass through some kind of spelling and grammar check as obviously your posts do not. “Sell me book…” … “Wither” ?  Just sayin’  ;)

  • Al

    I’d rather PAY a couple of hundred quid for a copy of the app, and then be able to sell my creation wherever I like.

    Can’t you just give us the choice, Apple?

  • Eduard Tiesto

    i think it would be more akin to apple not allowing music to be sold as AAC files over at walmart’s online music store (is there one, i’m not sure, i’m not from the us :) ). don’t see a problem with that.

  • Eduard Tiesto

    no, sean, it’s the format. a book made with iBooks Author (= an .iba file) will be either 1. sold for a fee and Apple takes its cut as on any app, or 2. sold for free – but it will still be an .iba file, so it will still be exclusively on iBooks, right? Write your content in any other FORMAT, and apple doesn’t care how you sell it. simple as that.

  • 5imo

    Your not limiting your self to iBooks you can create it again and publish it where ever you wish; it’s apple’s tool given away free to draw more people to iOS devices there tool there rules until there’s a free alternative that lets you put you content on any store don’t bitch.

  • Steve White

    I’m a published author. This is a great tool. I don’t blame Apple for giving away free software and then limiting the end product to sell only in their store. FREE, quality software = Tradeoff. IOW, there is no free lunch. This isn’t rocket science, people. What does SUCK is that it’s only compatible with Lion (10.7+). I just tried to download it and was denied with a message saying 10.7 must be installed. It’s not like Lion has even been out very long. They should at least make it 10.6 friendly. That’s crappy.

  • Miguel V Ortiz

    End to End Intergration.

  • SamuelBrock

    Ah, but perhaps those people knew nothing about an upgrade. Upgrades fragment, yes including Mac OS X’s JFS+ drive format. Too advanced to fragment=bull shit from Steve Jobs.

    Here’s the thing: Lion may have a few minor bugs out of the whole operating system that are in the process of being fixed, but they don’t affect the performance of the OS. Lion is just as stable—if not more stable, and faster than Leopard—especially on powerful enough devices. If people barely qualify for the “minimum hardware requirements,” they shouldn’t upgrade and not expect a little more cpu load.
    People on the Mac App store don’t understand that when a new OS is installed, it has to create new paths. With the JFS+ format, the pathways soon level out after a few months.
    The other alternative is to back up to time machine once Lion is installed, enter recovery HD, and erase your Mac HD. Then, reinstall Lion from Recovery HD and recover your system from Time Machine. Much, more stable and blazingly fast.

  • J.A. Stockwell

    I believe you are correct, but for publishers/writers it makes little sense to use this free tool because it requires essentially forking the manuscript. It’s a pain. Publishers/writers can (and will) use other tools. So I don’t see this tool, free or otherwise, encouraging more publication to the iBookstore.

  • J.A. Stockwell

    Apple would allow it to encourage more publication to the iBookstore. Apple always states they are a hardware company too, so presumably they would sell more macs and iPads as publishers/writers upgraded to use the tool. Publishers/writers are creating ebooks first and foremost for Amazon, next Nook, then everyone else — that’s where the readers are and the barriers to entry (for the publisher) are the lowest. If Apple had been smart, they could have displaced Nook as #2 overnight by allowing the tool’s output to be used as the publisher/author wishes.

  • Don Pope

    This would be reasonable. As long as the rights to the intellectual property are still mine, and I could publish the same content using different tools I’m OK with this.

  • Mystakill

    It’s likely just a matter of time before apps like Scrivener are updated to produce .iba output, bypassing Apple’s  “free” iBooks Author.

  • Scott Bourne

    Please name a book publisher that doesn’t require it’s authors to sign an exclusivity agreement or to give a large cut to the publisher. You can’t. Apple takes a much smaller cut than my current traditional book publisher does and allows me to control my own creative in a way that my current publisher does not. Nothing to whine about here.

  • aries1470

    Um, maybe not?. Yes, you are correct. You are wrong. The home and student version DOES NOT ALLOW YOU to create content FOR PROFIT, and is NOT ALLOWED FOR BUSINESS USE.
    As laready mentioned, please read the EULA. Also on the box – of which I have in front of me:
    ” * Licensed for installation on up to 3 home PC’s. Not for use in any commercial, nonprofit, or revenue generating activites, or by any government organization.”
    The above line is copyright Microsoft (just in preparation to SOPA & PIPA).

    If you want to make money etc, you need to buy one of the other versions.

    Hopefully that has cleared it up for you :-)

  • aries1470

    Hello Sandra, Thank you for the analogy, but I have to mention that you are incorrect.
    Let me help you, with your own example.
    What you are telling me is the manuscript that you typed on the typewriter.

    Now, once you finish typing, say you also have some images. You take all those and go to the publisher.
    The publisher will put this all together and in a nice format and presentable, and then will sell it to his distribution channels, market it etc.
    Now, think of iBook authoring as your PUBLISHER.
    You input your script, your images and then it outputs your content aka book, in a format that is suitable for the store that Apple has.
    Your script can be written even in Notepad or in WORD OR WHATEVER is available on the Mac ecosystem (I am not an Apple user) and then you copy and paste it into iBA.
    Then, if you want, you can use OTHER tools, and publish your work on whatever other system you would like, like Amazon etc.
    I would say that APPLE, is MUCH MORE LIBERAL and takes a smaller cut (compared to most others) than a publisher.
    Do you know why? Simple, when you sign-up with a publisher, you LOOSE YOUR RIGHT TO PUBLISH THE SAME BOOK WITH ANOTHER PUBLISHER OR MEANS (in most cases), unless clearly stated in the agreement! It is called EXCLUSIVITY – They have the EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO PUBLISH YOUR WORK.
    Yes, you have the intellectual property, but that is about it! At times you are not even allowed to post text from your own work on the internet or elsewhere.

    You may not even get published, BUT, they may even plagiarise your script, and knock you back, and then until you DO find a publisher willing to publish for you, or you publish yourself, you MAY HAVE A HARD TIME PROVING YOUR ORIGINAL WORK!
    Now, tell me, why, if a company is offering a FREE TOOL, that it is BAD to restrict it to their OWN store? I hope I have clarified it for you and others with the above example of where EXACTLY this program sits, compared to a paper version and the iBookStore.

  • Mark Vopat

    1. Apple takes 30% but my publisher only gives me less than 10%. 

    2. Apple doesn’t allow you to sell your “iBook” in any other store, but they don’t stop you from publishing the content in another format (e.g., EPub, Kindle, Mobi, print).

    3. There is currenlty no better tool out there for creating ebooks.

    4. Pages allows you to create an Epub book you can sell anywhere.

    5. The only difference between Apple and Amazon, is if you publish with Amazon, they don’t give you the tools to layout your book (they keep their sauce secret).

    6. This is a great application for professors…create our own textbooks and give them away. There is a potential to save students a vast sum of money on those texts that rely on public domain works (hisory, literature, philosophy).