iBooks Author review

Yesterday’s big announcement by Apple was the release of iBooks Author and iBooks 2. iBooks Author is a Mac application and Apple’s attempt at revolutionizing educational books whether they be textbooks, cookbooks, history books, picture books and more for iPad. With it, you can create all of the above and more via a classically easy to use Apple interface. iBooks 2 is the application you need to view publications created in iBooks Author.

To get you started quickly, there are lots of Apple-designed templates that merely require you to add your own text and drag and drop images.

To add interactive photo galleries, movies, Keynote presentations, 3D objects and more, there are simple widgets which make things very easy indeed. The widgets are one of the outstanding features of iBooks Author. They enable you to add everything from a photo gallery to a Keynote (Keynote ’09 v5.1.1 or later) presentation and can be easily identified in your Table of Contents. You can also add a voice-over to make it easier for sight-impaired readers to read your books.

To check how your book is looking, you can preview it on your iPad at any time although note that you’ll need iBooks 2 installed on your iPad to do this. If you don’t like the look or layout of your book, you can easily re-arrange it using the Book Navigator including the possibility of adding a cover and table of contents. In addition, you can import a chapter written in Pages or Microsoft Word and automatically create a portrait view of your book which makes it easier for readers to focus on the text.

The final step is to submit your finished work to the iBookstore and hey presto, you’re a self-published author.

There is one drawback. Be aware that once you’ve issued it to the iBookstore, the terms and conditions stipulate that you can’t sell it elsewhere. So you wouldn’t be able to sell it on Amazon for example. However, although the exports are in iBook format, you can also export them as PDF files which any e-reader or tablet can read. Whether you would be able to then convert and upload this to Amazon is not clear because presumably iBooks Author inserts some kind of digital protection that prevents this. And presumably, any multimedia elements are excluded from PDF files so the result won’t be as good as if you publish to the iBookstore. Alternatively, you can just export a pure Text version.

As you’d expect from an Apple application, iBooks Author is a very stylish and easy to use application. If you’ve ever used Keynote to make a presentation, then you’ll feel very at home with iBooks Author. Overall, iBooks Author is a superb iBook authoring package which produces stunning results with relatively little effort.

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