I tend to be a standards guy myself, but Grubes does an excellent job arguing against using open standards for Apple's iBooks:

It’s the difference between “What’s the best we can do within the constraints of the current ePub spec?” versus “What’s the best we can do given the constraints of our engineering talent?” — the difference between going as fast as the W3C standards body permits versus going as fast as Apple is capable.

I don't know that I think Apple's got another iTunes Music Store for textbooks by any stretch, and I am sure that this argue doesn't mean Apple couldn't have opened their own format for use by anyone on any platform (see C# and Mono for Microsoft surprisingly Doing It Right), but it is a good argument against Glazman's claims (quoted in the same link) that Apple should have embraced standards.

The iBooks format isn’t different just for the sake of being different, it’s different for the sake of being better — not better in the future, after a W3C review period and approval, but better today, in the textbooks you can download and read in iBooks right now.

Again, that doesn't argue for the iBook as a legally-enforced closed ecosystem, but it does argue very well for not using w3c sanctioned standards.

But here's where we have trouble... Grubes sets out three scenarios. 1.) Publishers only use iBooks for ebook distribs. 2.) Publishes integrate iBooks into their current workflow. 3.) Publishers don't use iBooks.

On two, he says...
If they choose to work iBooks Author into their cross-platform production workflow, and it proves to be a pain in the ass, that’s not Apple’s problem.

That's not true. If Apple gains the sort of dominance in ebooks that it has in emusic, then fine, Apple isn't significantly hurt by others going elsewhere. But if, to go all Gladwellian on Grubes' arse, the difficulty of integrating iBooks is the barrier to entry that keeps iBooks from hitting a market tipping point, well, then that certainly is Apple's problem, ain't it?

(Grubes essentially admits this... "(What would be Apple’s problem is if iBooks’s new layout and design features do not prove to be a competitive advantage in the e-book market. But even then, Apple would merely be right back where they were prior to yesterday’s announcements.1)" ... but I think he misses 1.) the opportunity cost of releasing iBooks and 2.) the degree to which the utility of being able to work a new format into your workflow drives competitive advantage. Apple's really not back to where they started before the announcement. Not that Apple can't afford to miss a few more times.)

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