Well, I was partly right…

So Apple did their thing yesterday. In case you live under a rock or in a cave, the video is here. Btw, I’m there, in a tweed jacket at about the 4:39 mark. Just saying.

About 30 seconds after they finished their announcements, Google+ was all blown up by people complaining about the EULA that comes with iBooks Author. Details about their complaints all over the ed blogs, if you care to look. The lynchpin of those arguments seems to be the following: Content that you create via iBooks Author and that you wish to sell becomes exclusive to the Apple Textbook store.

You’d think they’d killed the sacred cow from the outcry.

I don’t understand how people thought this was going to work- did they think that Apple would invest huge money in building an application that does all this cools stuff and there would be no strings attached? I keep having the example of GarageBand thrown in my face. They say “GarageBand doesn’t only output to iTunes format. Why should this?”

Because they want it to. So what? If that doesn’t work for you, and you’d like to output to an ePub or a PDF, there are loads of other tools you can use. Free tools. Open source tools, if that’s your thing. But if you happen to work in an Apple environment, this is a nifty bonus.

Oh no, they say. You’d have to be LOCKED into an Apple environment for that.

Yup. That’s true.

Well that’s not good, they say.

That’s probably also true.

I keep hearing people complain that Apple brought in the three largest textbook publishers in the world. Did we really expect them not to? Needless to say, the fact that those books are for sale in no way means you actually have to buy them. Build your own book. You should be doing that anyway. The technology for a motivated educator to build and distribute their own textbook to their own students has existed for a very, very long time. It’s even been cheap and doable without any crazy skills for a bunch of years now.

I’m not sure that iBooks Author will change everything for me. I’ll likely play with it and use it from time to time (since all my students have iPad2’s right now anyway…). But I still see a future for ePubs and PDF’s in my classroom. This is another tool for the toolbox, not the only tool. And if anything, Apple building this new tool (and, apparently, a new eBook standard… more on that later), it will prompt others to build competing software and standards.
It will get hacked.

It will get changed.

It will evolve.

But if the future of all of this really is the ability of an average teacher, with no prior experience in typesetting/book design/electronic publishing to be able to output high quality engaging digital publications- what’s not to like about that?