Apple just put out a massively useful tool in making books on the Mac, in many ways it looks better and more simplified than my favorite writing app (Scrivener) BUT there are some major problems with it.
First off. There are exactly SIX templates and all of them are very much focused on textbook creation. That is definitely a point considering they are pushing cheap iPad textbooks, (Like.. 15.00 bucks for a multimedia formated ebook, we're talking movies, HTML formated widgets and so on). It's a 1.0 release, so I expect that to grow over time.
The thing that really hit me (from the POV of someone looking to e-publish) is that the OUTPUT of the iBook Author app is restricted to the iBookstore by the way their EULA is written. IE.. your effort and creation is restricted to Apple's store only. I hope that changes because I like the feel of it and I'm all for streamlining the epublishing process.
BUT I don't like the idea of restricting myself to one vendor. If I ever e-publish.. I want to put it on Amazon, Apple, Smashwords and anyone else who will take it.. cause I know this.. e-books aren't a big thing..won't be for YEARS.. so I want to spread my efforts over the world wide net.
Apples Eductation Announcement: http://events.apple.com.edgesuite.net/1201oihbafvpihboijhpihbasdouhbasv/event/index.html
Ars Technica evaulation of the EULA: http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2012/01/enthusiasm-for-ibooks-author-marred-by-licensing-format-issues.ars
if I'm misunderstanding this.. PLEASE point out my mistakes.
Me, if I was Apple, I'd let it be outputted to epub (with a possible hit on some of the features) secure in the knowledge that you can publish RIGHT to the iBookstore with a literal push of a button. It's the path of least resistance, you're already on the inside loop of the track.
I do like that they are apparently looking to promote iTunes U a bit more.. which has some really AWESOME lectures and classes up for FREE already.