Hi Barbara, Apple's announcement did get everyone's attention in this space, and probably for good reason - they sure do have a history of disruptive innovations that shake up established markets.
There's a lot of confusion swirling round about their iBook publisher and potential pitfalls. Here is my take:
- one of the issues is around their end user license agreement (EULA) and what it permits and doesn't permit. The consensus now seems to be that if you use their iBook authoring tool and want to SELL your book, you are required to do so through their iBooks store. If you want to GIVE your book away for free (for instance, if you are involved with the open education/open textbooks movement) then no such restriction is placed on you.
- the other consideration which isn't getting as much press is Apple playing a bit fast and loose with standards. Currently the most widely adopted open standard for eBooks is ePub. ePub, however, does not currently handled rick media embedded in books. This is something Apple wants to promote as part of their vision for next generation electronic books. This is admirable. But instead of waiting for the standard to evolve, they have gone ahead on their own and so this tool with produce a new type of file. As this unfolds, it may well turn out that Apple leads the way and the open standard incorporates their innovations. This can often happen. But until then, books authored on Apple's free iBook authroing tool will only open in its reader. It is also possible that other readers will start to support this format, but this is a dangerous precedent in my eyes.
Love to hear if other people have a different read on this. I can dig up references if you like.