Now, I personally have serious issues with iBooks Author with regard to its deviation from the EPUB standard and the legal lock-in that restricts sales to Apple's iBookstore. It also annoys me that books created with the tool will only work on the iPad, even while I understand Apple's strategy.
Having said all that, I've played with iBooks Author and it is a great tool for creating ebooks. Apple has raised the bar on ease-of-use for ebook creation tools and that is definitely a good thing. As my attendance at O'Reilly's Tools of Change conference last week in New York certainly showed to me, we need tools that are easier-to-use for even more people to be able to create ebooks.
My sincere hope is that creators of other ebook authoring tools will take a serious look at what Apple has done with iBooks Author and figure out how to deliver a similar (or better) user experience where the final output can also work on other ebook platforms. The tool vendor who can do that will certainly receive a lot of interest judging from the conversations I've had with people both at TOCCON last week and also in numerous other venues.
So to that end, I commend O'Reilly on releasing this new ebook for free and I do hope people will download it and understand just what Apple has done to make ebook creation so easy... and then use that knowledge to build even better tools!
P.S. In full disclosure, O'Reilly is the publisher of my most recent ebook, but that has nothing to do with why I am writing about them here. (And it was written entirely in DocBook XML, because that's just the kind of author I am... )
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