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Stephen Hackett's weblog about Apple, Apple history, technology, journalism and design.

The Problem with iBooks Author

Yesterday, I announced System Extension, a members-only magazine for 512 Pixels. I built the first edition in Apple’s iBook Author program, which is simply stunning.

Except for the terms of service.

As numerous people have pointed out to me, I cannot charge directly for an .ibooks file.

Turns out, I can’t give an .ibooks file away as part of a subscription, either.

It’s all outlined here.

In short, if you collect money in any way with an .ibooks file, Apple wants their cut.

You can give away .ibooks files, or create them for your own use at a company, but can’t have any cash change hands.

(Probably not even with advertising.)

This blows.

While I will admit I should have spent a little more time reading over all of Apple’s documentation before hitting Publish, it’s pretty shitty of Apple to lock down this otherwise awesome file format.

There will be more editions of System Extension. I’m too excited about this project to let this derail me. While I’m still poking around for a solution, I’m not sure future versions will be as interactive and rich as the first one was.

On a related note, iBooks Author-generated .epub and .pdf files don’t fall under these restrictions. Just .ibooks

(Before you email me, no, Newsstand isn’t a viable alternative for this, either.)

I’d love to see Apple change its terms and give users the freedom to do whatever they wish to with these files. iBooks Author may be the single most exciting piece of software Apple’s shipped in a long time, and it’s angering to see the company have an unneeded stranglehold on it.