This morning I spotted this question from one of my LinkedIn groups:
"Anyone considering iBooks Author to publish mags? What pros and cons do you see?"
Working extensively in Apple's new book publishing tool as I am, I thought I'd throw my thoughts into the discussion. It turns out I had more to say on the topic than I thought. So much, in fact, that I had to trim back my initial post in order to fit LinkedIn's message length criteria.
Below is my response in full. What do you think? Any lawyers out there?
"I'm not sure iBooks Author is the best way to go for magazine publishing. It's certainly possible, but whether or not periodicals would be allowed by Apple through its iBooks platform is a different matter.
Fiction and non-fiction books plus text books (Apple's major push here) seem to be the standard. The Newsstand app for iPhone and iPad that contains magazines as apps from the App Store is where Apple would much rather you go. Why Newsstand and iBooks weren't merged into a single reading experience and editorial store is beyond me.
There's also a rather worrying EULA (End User License Agreement) attached to iBooks Author, effectively saying "Sure, you can publish with iBooks Author on iBooks but we own the rights to your content. If we don't choose to sell it, you can't go elsewhere". The explicit clause is pasted at the bottom of this post.
This is bound to be highlighted and discussed pretty heavily in the tech press and Apple will likely clarify the agreement or come to a compromise but, for the time being, it's a dangerous game.
Of course, that only applies to paid books made in iBooks Author and published on the iBookstore. It seems that distributing content for free makes all these headaches go away. But how would you make your money? It's even more unlikely that Apple would allow for advertising pages within an iBook, although I don't know this as fact. Perhaps sponsorships may be the way to go?
You can also export your iBooks Author publication and share it with as many people as you like without having to use the iBookstore at all. All your reader would need would be a copy of your publication and iBooks installed on their iPad. If you were to produce a free, ad-supported magazine within iBooks Author and offer it as a free download on your website, it seems you could circumvent the EULA. Don't hold me to that, however, I'm not a lawyer.
The issue I have with iBooks author is that it's almost too good a creation tool to apply to books alone. You can, effectively, make magazines, games and more using its incredibly simple features yet you're limited to publishing to a book store that may not want what you're selling.
Do you want to painstakingly craft a 250-page magazine only to be told that it's not right for iBooks? That would bring anyone down. Oh, and while you're down there Apple would also put the boot in by telling you not to dare try publishing this content on another store that might actually WANT to sell your content.
For magazines and iBooks Author I think it'll have to be a waiting game. This is, after all, only the first iteration of the software and Apple has a laser focus on textbooks right now. Once the hype dies down and the development inside Infinite Loop churns on, iBooks Author could well include a template for Newsstand publications or a simple loosening of its restrictions to aid the publisher rather than intimidate them.
I'm about to blindly wander into the world of self-publishing with a book I wrote as basic ePUB and have now completely revamped with iBooks Author. I'm following Apple's rules and submitting it to the iBookstore next week.
I'm sure I'll be back here soon to tell you how it went.
From Apple's iBooks Author EULA:
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."