Ha !

Daring Fireball posted a long reply to my article, but I think John Gruber just did not get my point: Apple started thinking about the features probably beginning of 2010 or even earlier. They started implementing the features second half of 2010. The standardization could have started on their proposals at beginning of 2010, and stabilize around them beginning of 2011. It means we could have obtained a Candidate Recommandation for these features in the course of 2011 and then Apple would be shipping today an application with a clear competitive advantage - being the only one on the market - conformant to future standards. On the contrary, Apple has implemented features that are now partly or largely incompatible with the future standards, and I am saying this is yet another burden on the Publishing industry that is fighting with already too many formats and too many bad quality conversions.

The comparison with mobi is irrelevant : I can create a mobi document from a perfectly valid and regular HTML document and get a perfectly valid HTML document from a mobi document. Again, John Gruber did not get my point. I did not say that extending a standard is bad. I did not say that competitive advantages are bad. I did not say that a first mover's advantage is bad. Comparison with App Store is relevant here : more and more use frameworks to create cross-mobile-platform apps for iOS/Android/Web based on the same code. That's exactly the kind of things the Publishing industry needs and wants, and what I think Apple failed to deliver with iBooks Author. In other words, that segment remains open for another actor and I have absolutely no doubt someone will show up.


1. On Saturday 21 January 2012, 23:46 by yt75

Like a great wysiwig editor leading directly to a book kind website with predefined configurable nice looking css and navigation patterns ?
(still messy all the online manuals and stuff, could be much better)
Or simply compiler from all current inputs ...

2. On Monday 23 January 2012, 19:38 by Ted Wise

Involving themselves in the standards process would have required them to broadcast their intentions. And Apple isn't a company that's interested in that. From their perspective they now have a strategic advantage of 6 months to a year over competing platforms. Sucks for the industry in general but they're a for-profit company.

3. On Monday 23 January 2012, 19:44 by Chess

"I have absolutely no doubt someone will show up."

Like Adobe! Oh wait..

4. On Monday 23 January 2012, 20:45 by Brian

Perhaps to fully understand the situation, one should to try to see things from Apple's perspective - the perspective of a product oriented company whose allegiance is to their users and developers, not to standards bodies and the publishing industry.

Developing a closed platform instead of trying to push an open one into public standards allows them puts them in a very different position than if they did otherwise, and opens up some possibilities I suspect Apple values far more than open standards.

For example, the fact that iBooks only run on iPads, and that all iPads have precisely the same display means a designer can be certain that what is built in iBooks Author is going to look exactly the same on any device that will load that content. You can't guarantee that with standards as we've seen with the Web, and to many designers reliability of presentation may outweigh the extra reach that open standards provide.

And perhaps all those widgets whose javascript Bjarnason couldn't find in the iBooks bundles run instead on optimized native code - I'd think that a smooth immersive reading experience is far more valuable to an iPad owner, than the knowledge that this book is also readable on a Samsung.

Sure, they stand to benefit financially from the lock-in it produces, but the quality and polish of the tools gives the impression that lock-in is a means to building great products, not an end.

We may not like that Apple's not going above and beyond the call of duty for the standardization of eBooks, but I believe we can hardly fault them for doing what they've always claimed to do - put users first.

Disclosure - I use an iPad and I like it very much.

5. On Monday 23 January 2012, 21:29 by rezonate

Gruber is really just an Apple shill it's so blatantly obvious. He doesn't get your argument at all because he is blinded by making sure Apple comes out as clean as possible.

The whole iBook author/epub issue shows how hyporcrital he is, as well as many Apple fanboys. wasn't it Steve Jobs who took out a whole page on Apple to berate Adobe Flash and talk about supporting open standards? What did that lead to? Gruber's crusade against flash, spewing forthright on his blog about how Apple is the torch bearer for open standards when in fact, like Gruber hypocritically states now, Apple is doing it all for their own interests, which come first. That I don't disagree with, course they do, they're a company profits from making their products. What is saddening is the sheer bullshit I'm reading on the Apple blogs about iBook author, etc. and the the massive u-turn in stance from the fanboys.

Let's be realistic, Apple is ensuring that publishers don't get to produce material for an open standard by closing off their products.

Open standards, Apple supporting them (only when it suits them), lmao.

6. On Monday 23 January 2012, 23:25 by mhikl

There ain’t a point that John Gruber doesn’t get; if it is spelt out in near enough English.

7. On Monday 23 January 2012, 23:27 by Lee

rezonate, exactly where has Apple closed off their products? There are many book apps on the App Store, even textbook apps. They can use whatever standards they like. So can Apple. The comparison with Adobe Flash is a straw man - that is an argument against one company holding the keys to large section of the internet, not one company making a custom piece of software which runs only on their own hardware. Anyone expecting Apple to tell people their intentions ahead of time of frankly dumb, as is the expectation that if Apple had telegraphed their intentions two years ago by pushing their designs as a standard then they would have a competitive advantage in announcing iBooks now.

The basic fact is that there wasn't a finished useable open standard for multimedia eBooks that met what Apple wanted to do, so they did their own. And they're the bad guys because they haven't done the publishing industry's work for them? Please.

8. On Monday 23 January 2012, 23:37 by mhikl

Gruber's called a shill and Apple is called similar names but what other company would let the fox into the hen house by open development to standards anyone could run to compete against them. Certainly not MS or Google. If Apple is to be held up to godly standards, why aren't the other players in this game set to the same standards?

Research and development cost money and as the old adage says, “you’ve got to spend money to make money” and Apple spends less money on R&D than most other companies but it spends it more wisely.

9. On Tuesday 24 January 2012, 01:00 by James Katt

Like it or not, Gruber understands what you are saying. After all, he is a writer by trade.

The publishing industry wants to make money - first and foremost.

Standards make this easier to write to different platforms. BUT, standards do not guarantee that the publishing industry will make money.

The publishing industry also has all the man-power it needs to convert books to different formats. Having competing standards is not a problem. They can hire grunts to make the conversions.

Making money is the primary problem. Standards do not help the publishing industry make more money.

Just look at how much power Kindle has over the publishing industry. Kindle books follow no standard.

If Apple's new standard allows the publishing industry to make more money, then the publishing industry will LOVE IT.

10. On Tuesday 24 January 2012, 01:49 by James Katt

Standards are O.K. They make it easier for the consumer.

However, as a writer, I really don't care about standards because standards don't make money. They won't put food on the table. They don't guarantee you can make a living.

For me, I sell my books on the Kindle. The Kindle's proprietary format doesn't pose a problem. It will make more money for me than printed books or open standards like the ePub format or by going through publishers. It can't be as easily pirated as open formats and printed books can.

Content creators should not really care about standards for the final output of their work. The only concern is if the format can make money and can earn them a living.

Free as in free-beer often won't make you a cent. Certainly, in the eBooks business, open standards make you less money than proprietary ones do.

11. On Tuesday 24 January 2012, 02:28 by Neon

It isn’t really fair to compare Apple’s stance on proprietary formats like Flash on the web to Apple’s proprietary extensions in iBooks.

The web is intended as a cross-platform medium with a clearly defined set of standards. Flash, for better or for worse, circumvents those standards. Apple was fairly clear when stating they did not want software support for rendering a portion of the web’s content in Adobe’s control.

The .iba format is designed *only* for use in Apple’s software, on Apple’s hardware. Just because their proprietary format is based on existing standards, Apple is now expected to standardize their extensions? I don’t think Apple built on existing standards so they could be 98% standards compliant, they built on existing standards because it’s convenient. If Apple’s format had been obfuscated to the point that no one knew that it was based on EPUB3 and CSS, or if Apple’s format was in no way based on existing formats, no one would be bitching about this.

While I would rather see Apple standardize their extensions, those calling Apple hypocritical are comparing (sorry) apples to oranges.

12. On Tuesday 24 January 2012, 03:09 by Pierre

You should not complain about both the format _and_ the EULA like you did in your previous post. The fact that Apple chose a non-standard format is in large part mitigated because their EULA makes it a closed platform. When Apple decides to adopt a standard format (which, I am convinced, is in the plans), it will be much easier for them to make it backward-compatible with their current first-to-market no-matter-what-it-takes solution because they control the entire chain from creation to sale to visualization. The mess begins when a non-standard solution is made available to the public or opened to other developers. It's not the case here, thanks to the EULA. There is no document that moves around: the only output of iBooks Author are PDF documents that nobody is going to use, or the equivalent of executables for iPad only.

The responsibility lies much more onto the publishers and even more onto various administrations (federal and state Departments of Education, school boards, etc…) to require that textbooks be published in open formats. I believe it's going to happen; I'm sure Apple knows it and, with that in mind, a temporarily completely closed platform is not such a bad solution.

13. On Tuesday 24 January 2012, 19:46 by Jean

Some are already running for compatibility (french html5): http://www.macgeneration.com/news/v...