When Apple announced iBooks Author I was excited to see a program that allowed for the easy creation of interactive ebooks. As a teacher, I was excited to see new possibilities for teachers creating interactive content for students. And as a Christian, I was excited to see new possibilities for creating content to spread the gospel. Needless to say, I was keen to get stuck in and have a go at creating an iBook. So I started thinking about what I would create.
This is the story of my journey with iBooks Author, including what was easy and what was hard. From the moment of inception to the moment of being published on the iBook Store.
From the start, I ruled out the prospect of writing new content for the book, as I wanted to get it done quickly and focus on making it interactive. So I decided to collect some blog posts I had written about video countdowns and collate them together into a book titled, “The How and Why of Video Countdowns”. Collecting existing posts into a book saved me lots of time in writing original content. As my purpose was to play with iBooks Author, I was happy to be creating an iBook that I would offer as a free download. This also circumvents iBooks Author’s complicated and controversial end user license for selling iBooks created with the software.
Step one of creating my iBook was to repurpose the content from blog posts into a book with chapters and sections.
That was simple editing and rewriting, and was mostly done in Pages before I’d even opened iBooks Author.
Step two was to open iBooks Author.
When opened I was greeted with the template chooser. I chose my base template and started to have a look through the different page types. I then created a cover for the iBook and dragged it into my project. Easy
Step three was to get my writing into iBooks Author.
Thankfully this is a really easy step. I dragged my Pages document into iBooks Author and that was it. I needed to quickly check to make sure that iBooks Author had gotten the sections right, but on the whole it was that easy.
Now that I had my text in the iBook, it was onto the fun stuff.
This is the part that I was really excited about, this is the part that would allow iBooks Author to stand out from dull text-based eBook writing programs. And for the most part, it worked really well.
I dragged a few photos in, and they went in beautifully, they lined up perfectly with the text. Too easy.
I dragged a speech bubble or two in to make a quote section. Again, easy.
I dragged a video that I had made… and that is where I hit my first snag. The video wouldn’t be accepted. This hurdle was easily overcome by converting the file format in Quicktime.
iBooks Author only accepts videos in .m4v format and not in .mov format.
Next up, a Keynote presentation.
One of iBook Authors great promises is that it allows for easy creation of interactive animations. And with its Keynote integration it does not dissapoint. I had to update my version of Keynote to the latest version of the software from the Mac App Store. But from there it was as easy as creating my animation through the use of slides with interal links, and then dragging that file into iBooks Author. I could then reposition the animation as I wished. Using Keynote’s custom slide size I even created a portrait animation.
My final piece of interactivity was a photo gallery.
These look great in iBooks Author and are as easy as, you guessed it, dragging and dropping photos in.
Once I had made my iBook interactive I added a few links for sharing the iBook and links back to my website and I was nearly done.
iBooks Author allows you to create an intro video that plays when somebody opens the iBook for the first time. I felt like using every aspect of iBooks Author so I created a short video, dragged it in and I was done.
Ready to publish.
After I had created a free iBookstore account (a simple process), I then published my iBook through iTunes Connect. I uploaded a few screenshots, a little blurb about the iBook, and I was done.
Within days the iBook was available for download. Yay!
- iBooks Author was such an easy program to use! I couldn’t fault it for that.
- The ability to preview everything on an iPad as you go makes it easy to test out ideas, and see how they’ll work on a iPad, and not just on your computer screen.
- It was fun to use! I really enjoyed playing with all of the interactive features that I could put in my iBook.
- As I already said, the file formats for movies are very limited. This stumped me at first, but I very quickly learnt to change the format of my videos. And that didn’t take long at all.
- I also had trouble making sure that my well laid out book looked just as good in portrait view as it did in landscape view. In the end I had too much trouble doing this, and just decided to lock it in landscape mode (which iBooks Author let’s you do, again, very easily).
- iBooks Author only allows you to sell .ibooks files on the iBookstore. Which is fair enough, but for an interational such as myself (I live in Australia), this is an extremely frustrating experience. If I want to sell a book on the iBookstore, then I need to go through the hassle of US taxation laws. Not a simple process. Or I have to go through another company. I understand why Apple does this, but boy would I love it if I could just worry about one countries taxation laws!
If you would like to check out the iBook, then search for it on the iBookstore. And watch this video below to see the iBook in action.
I was really impressed with iBooks Author and it’s ease of use as a WYSIWYG editor. And the final product on the iPad was exactly what I expected. Sure iBooks Author has limitations in that it only creates iBooks that can be read on an iPad, but hopefully in time this will expand to iPhones and iPod Touches.
If you’re after a tool that will allow you to create an interactive book for iPads, then definitely give iBooks Author a go!