Apple's announcement is a very exciting development for the textbook market. The ability to generate interactive textbooks with that incredible highlighting feature is a big step forward. I think we are finally getting a glimpse of what learning might be like in ten years time. Not too pleased with this tiny caveat, however:
"Cupertino is giving authors the ability to set their own prices as long as they remain $14.99 or under. In exchange, Apple takes a 30 percent cut, and requires authors take an oath of fealty to Tim Cook -- ok, not really, but any e-textbook author that wants access to the iPad-toting masses must make his or her work an exclusive to iBooks 2. So there you have it folks, if you want to take a gander at these awesome new e-textbooks, you'll have to jump on the iOS bandwagon."
I just don't see the advantage in demanding exclusivity. These books are going to cost a fortune to make, and publishers are going to need large audiences to cover their expenses. I understand the desire to limit sales to an Apple controlled channel, but how is this going to be a sustainable position for content providers?
I would have placed the priority on allowing content providers the opportunity to provide a superior eTextbook through Apple channels (slick eTextbook creation software, easy uploads, great margins, and an improved eBookstore browsing experience) rather than setting up artificial roadblocks. The move reeks of 1990's Apple thinking, and it gives Amazon an enormous opening: Now the eBook giant can demand exclusivity too. Publishers will then be forced to choose between them, and I doubt many are going to end up selecting the smaller Apple market.
Hopefully, Apple sees the light and corrects this oversight soon.
CRITICAL UPDATE FOR AUTHORS: Here is a breakdown of the iBooks Author License provided by Venomous Porrige. Please take the time to read it BEFORE you publish your book on the iBookstore. The relevant discussion on the Passive Voice is here.
Jeepers Creepers. Read your contracts, people.