Apple has essentially created an ePub 3-compliant WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor in iBooks Author. This means that authors can—from start to finish—create gorgeous books with images, captions, video, and custom text, and publish them in the ePub 3 standard, which you can then easily convert to KF8 (the Kindle proprietary format based on ePub 3).
Of course, with the need to own a Mac, this is hardly the WordPress of e-book creation software. Still, it’s definite progress if the hype is justified. Even novices, supposedly, can create polished e-books.
The Caldwell review does mention one other catch:
Unsurprisingly, iBooks Author’s .ibooks-format ebooks still get the majority of the cool gimmickry available in the app; to build an ePub-compatible book, you have to first choose an ePub template.
Keeping with the basic ePub 3 standard, ePub templates remove floating text boxes, charts, shapes, and all widgets beyond the gallery and media boxes. But that’s still an incredibly high bar for a WYSIWYG ebooks program: You can add images and captions; video; custom fonts; custom chapter headers; HTML tables (good glory yes!); and more.
(Thanks also to Paul Chernoff.)