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iBook Store Features Leave Indie Publishers Behind 146

Posted by Soulskill
from the paying-for-the-top-shelf dept.
jfruhlinger writes "Apple has introduced some new features to its iBooks store in order to make illustrations and fixed layouts possible — something particularly important for children's books. But at the moment, it seems these features are only available for big publishers, not indies. This is not dissimilar from the controversy that brewed over indie labels' access to iTunes LP."
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iBook Store Features Leave Indie Publishers Behind

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  • surprise surprise (Score:1, Informative)

    by Picardo85 (1408929)
    Apple comes and pisses on the little people, yet again !
    • To be fair, there is no obligation by any enterprise to support every person who wishes to make use of it: there are no laws that state you must extend the same level of support to everyone, and there are no laws saying that your business decisions must place ethical treatment of other businesses and individuals over profits.

      Granted, it is more ethically sound to extend the same benefits of access to smaller (and less-profitable) publishers as to the 'big names', but since when has Apple marketed itself as
      • In lots of countries around the world there are laws against big business negotiating to keep an advantaje out of its rivals reach. As far as I remember, the US is one of those countries.

  • I know it's cool to be anti Apple on slashdot these days, but does the hatred have to include loss of logic?

    Apple doesn't publish music or books, so in the case of iTunes LP, or the latest iBooks features, they need to work them out fully first. They do this by working with a few big companies, giving them access to rough beta copies of tools and tech specs. By working togther on a few items, Apple can identify and fix issues in a tool or spec before it's widely released. If they just threw out unfinished tools and specs, people would whine about the problems, and also increase Apple's support burden. With a slow and steady rollout, they can do it right, and ensure the mass publishing market has tools or specs that work without requiring direct hand holding via Apple support.

    • by Albanach (527650)

      You suggest Apple are jsut trying to get their house in order, finalizing tools and specs. If that were the case, once Apple were confident in their tech specs, surely they'd allow users of other operating systems to create apps for iOS?

      Or perhaps they're going to roll that out in a "slow and steady" manner? I for one won't be holding my breath.

      • surely they'd allow users of other operating systems to create apps for iOS?

        They do. You can generate iPhone apps from Flash. That tool can be run on Mac or Windows. [adobe.com]

        Now what you are suggesting is Apple is beholden to make the development tools THEY write for Windows. Why should that be the case? Microsoft doesn't produce Visual Studio for the Mac!

      • If that were the case, once Apple were confident in their tech specs, surely they'd allow users of other operating systems to create apps for iOS?

        There's no "allow" here, as in Apple acting as the bully keeping you out of its tree fort. Apple would have to significantly increase its development investment in the iOS development tool chain to maintain and QA ports for other desktop platforms. That's money directly diverted from enhancements to the toolchain and to iOS itself. The return on that investment is doubtful at best, and the lost opportunity cost is damning. Personally, I can't foresee any market for this that would justify the ongoing co

    • by gstoddart (321705) on Monday December 20, 2010 @02:42PM (#34618538) Homepage

      I know it's cool to be anti Apple on slashdot these days, but does the hatred have to include loss of logic?

      Have you been reading Slashdot lately? It's nothing but screeching monkeys and poo flinging at the merest mention of Apple.

      People seem to hate Apple nowadays the way they used to hate Microsoft. Heck, half of the things people are saying isn't factually correct -- it's just what they believe. I still see people claiming you can't play MP3s on an iPod.

      I think in many cases, logic has gone completely out the window when Apple is the topic.

      • by nomadic (141991)
        "People seem to hate Apple nowadays the way they used to hate Microsoft"

        Come on, every anti-Apple story has a legion of screeching fanboys coming on to defend the company (though not directly, it's usually couched in phrases like "ohh, you're just hating out of hatred"). There's faulty thinking on both sides.
        • by gstoddart (321705)

          (though not directly, it's usually couched in phrases like "ohh, you're just hating out of hatred")

          Yo, Dawg ... I hear you like to hate, so I installed some hate so you can hate while you're hating. :-P

          There's faulty thinking on both sides.

          On that, we agree. =)

        • Come on, every anti-Apple story has a legion of screeching fanboys coming on to defend the company (though not directly, it's usually couched in phrases like "ohh, you're just hating out of hatred"). There's faulty thinking on both sides.

          Screeching fanboys or just people who are dubious after so much wolf-crying?

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by mjwx (966435)

        Have you been reading Slashdot lately? It's nothing but screeching monkeys and poo flinging at the merest mention of Apple.

        Have you been reading the same slashdot as I have?

        It's being used as a platform for all kinds of Apple evangelism, any mention of Win Phone 7, Meego or *gasp* Android will launch a flurry of attacks against from Apple evangelists.

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          *laugh* Dude, you're currently moderated as "insightful and troll". That rocks!

          I think that pretty much sums up how polarized things are wrt Apple these days. :-P

          • by mjwx (966435)

            *laugh* Dude, you're currently moderated as "insightful and troll". That rocks! I think that pretty much sums up how polarized things are wrt Apple these days. :-P

            Welcome to the /. moderation system. It may not be perfect but it's better then most other systems.

            And I too appreciate the irony.

    • That works if and only if Apple tells everyone that's what they're doing. While it may be likely based on past experience, you cannot safely assume a company will do anything in particular.

      Innovation often doesn't come from the big guys. Experience so far with the App Store has certainly shown that. There's no good reason for Apple to only look at large publishing operations for input.

    • by LodCrappo (705968)

      "does the hatred have to include loss of logic?"

      Its usually hard hate if you let logic get in the way.

      Like most mob trends, the anti-apple movement has some valid points down below all the posturing and silliness, but most of what you see online fails to convey them.

    • Is it a surprise? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770)

      Apple has been going full-on evil lately with a vision for the future that makes even MS's most dominating days pale. They want to control every device you own, and the appliance model is what they like. Devices designed for consumption, not production. You get to pay for everything and can buy it only through the Apple owned store. They will make devices designed to have a short life with features like non-replaceable batteries so that you are always spending money on the newest, trendiest, toy. They get t

      • by fotbr (855184)

        So I am not surprised Apple gets a lot of hatred here. If they don't want that, maybe they shouldn't have such a closed, "The Apple was is the ONLY way," ecosystem. Now if you like that that's fine. I'm not telling you what you should or shouldn't want. It is perfectly ok to say "I like their system, I want my stuff locked down and controlled, because that also implies protected, I am willing to deal with higher prices and less choice in trade for what I feel to be a better overall experience." However unde

      • by Drakino (10965)

        They will make devices designed to have a short life with features like non-replaceable batteries so that you are always spending money on the newest, trendiest, toy.

        I never did understand this point. When did requiring a screwdriver make a battery non replaceable? Sure, it's a little bit different then other laptops and phones, but the battery remains a replaceable component inside Apple products.

    • This might be true if Apple were standard compliant in regard to ePub, which they are not (example here [pigsgourdsandwikis.com], make sure you read Liz' blog all the way through, she rules!). So, they'd have to fix a few other things before we talk about the new iBooks 1.2 fixed layout specs or them throwing "out unfinished tools and specs" as you say. IOW, there's enough to whine about already (again, check Liz' blog for details!).

      OTOH, lots of small publishers are eager to satisfy their clients, but cannot, since Apple chose t
      • Here I sit, replying to myself.
        Mail from Apple contact says: specs are not ready yet, but will be "available in early January".

        Still, why the 'closed beta'?
      • by Drakino (10965)

        The link you pointed me to indicates iBooks doesn't support embedded fonts (dated June 23rd), then has an article this month on how to embed fonts. So in that case, it looks like Apple needed iOS 4.x to support embedded fonts properly, but didn't want to hold up the initial iBooks release.

        And no, I'm not an Apple helpdesk guy, but I have worked in various support roles, from consumer support, enterprise support, and developer support. There is always a cost associated with support, and it's much higher wh

    • Apple doesn't publish music or books, so in the case of iTunes LP, or the latest iBooks features, they need to work them out fully first. They do this by working with a few big companies, giving them access to rough beta copies of tools and tech specs.

      Making rough beta copies of tools and tech specs available on an equal basis to all publishers would work at least as well (Google tends to do this). And if support burden and focus was the concern, even better would be working with a small set of smaller publ

  • Looks like won't be on iBooks any time soon [paullee.com]. Thank God for Kindle :-)
  • by DIplomatic (1759914) on Monday December 20, 2010 @02:29PM (#34618330) Journal

    [Apple] is only providing information on how to create fixed layout ebooks for it's store to a select group of publishers and ebook producers."

    And a week from now when that information finds its way to the internet the headline will be "All Authors Able to Publish Fixed-Width iBooks"

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pilgrim23 (716938)
      I recall back in the dim dark days of the 1970s a book I had on 9 track tape recorded there from IBM cards via a utility IEBGENER. Still have that tape...... I recall back in the 1980s a book I had on a 5.25 floppy recorded in Fredwriter in ProDOS on an Apple II. Still have that Floppy........ I recall a book I had in Newton Book format pruchased to read on my 2100. Still have that book (remind me to change the Newton’s battery)....... I recall a book I bought that was published in 1629 . of all
      • That is because you didn't care to format shift the other books into the newer standards. If you kept an ebook collection at whatever media you find most usefull at each time, and shifted the collection every time you migrated to other storage technology, all of them would still be readable.

        What, of course, reminds of all that DRM nonsense...

  • Its the only explanation.
  • If your 5 year old is able to use an iPhone proficiently, then he/she probably should be reading something more complicated than a children's book anyway.
    • I have two year old family members who are able to use parts of the iPhone just fine.

      And "children's book" is a pretty broad category, going up almost to the teens...

  • by drerwk (695572) on Monday December 20, 2010 @04:25PM (#34620226) Homepage
    http://www.apple.com/itunes/lp-and-extras/ [apple.com]
    I would expect the same in a few months for any iBooks thing.
  • by bhunachchicken (834243) on Monday December 20, 2010 @05:03PM (#34620726) Homepage
    ... Wikipedia (yes, I know, I know) From the criticism of the EPUB format: "One criticism of EPUB is that, while good for text-centric books, it may be unsuitable for publications which require precise layout or specialized formatting, such as a comic book"[1] [wikipedia.org] Comparing this with what the article says that Apple is doing, it sounds like they are trying to deal with this problem. I'm probably wrong, but that's my first impression. Let's just hope that they decide to submit the proposal for an update back to the standards committee.
    • Of course, the International Digital Publishing Forum -- the group behind EPUB -- is also working on that problem, in the open, without distributing closed standards to selected parties.

      Apple's not trying to fix problems with EPUB; now that they've used the fact that EPUB was a widely accepted to standard with existing tools and support to build iBooks, they are trying to use their current market power to create a breach between their platform and the standard, so that its more expensive for publishers to s

      • by Draek (916851)

        Or, as it's commonly known, "Embrace, Extend, Extinguish".

        From IBM to Microsoft, and now to Apple. Isn't it cute?

      • by jo_ham (604554)

        Or more likely, as they did with iTunes LP and Extras is that they'll release it to everyone when the bugs are ironed out.

        Apple's general direction with formats is open: aac, mp4, .mbox, .ics, documented xml (for their productivity apps), and increasing standardisation of WebKit's engine on the WC3's standards for html and css (including future draft specs like html5).

        It's a far cry from embrace, extend and extinguish. Just compare it to something like the WMA format, which is just slightly tweaked mpeg4 de

  • by 517714 (762276) on Monday December 20, 2010 @05:40PM (#34621214)
    If Apple is consistent with their previous roll outs, they will release this to everyone later, once they have had a chance to debug the code and make it work the way a publisher would want. And it won't be because of the uproar here. Apple does not promise to roll out later since they are prohibited from making certain types of forward looking statements.
  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @02:06AM (#34625336) Homepage

    If they did make it available to everyone right away, people would still be bitching. The complaint would be that Apple is trying to hijack the open ePUB standard with their extensions for fixed layout.

    The right way to do this is to implement their proposed system, test it on a few books, fix problems found, and end up with a format that works well for this. Only after it is stable and they have had a chance to see what other ePUB stakeholders think should they open it to everyone.

    This is how most progress on standards comes about.

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