Apple notes on its iBooks page today that users can add “free” ePub titles and sync them to the iPad using iTunes. As I interpret this, “free” means you’ll be able to load ePub without content protection (like eBooks in the public domain) onto the iPad. Like I’ve said before, we welcome the decision Apple has made to support the ePub format because it will further grow the eBook market and reduce the file formats to which publishers must output.
There are some things that readers should be clear about though – one good and one not-so-good. First, the good. Today’s news that users can load “free” ePub onto the iPad means that you’ll be able to export an eBook using the “Export to Digital Editions” feature in InDesign CS4 and read it on the iPad as well as one of the nearly 25 devices that support the Adobe eBook Platform. To be clear, however, eBooks protected by Apple’s DRM (like those you purchase within iBooks) are locked-in to Apple devices. This means these books won’t work on other eReader devices or smartphone platforms because Apple’s DRM is incompatible with other systems. Nor will eBooks purchased from any other online bookseller work in the iBooks application. Before investing in a library of paid eBook content in iBooks, consumers should consider how they’ll be able to access their content across the range of devices they will use – smartphones, tablets, and desktop apps – on a daily basis. Read more on this from the Financial Times article “Walls close in on e-book garden“