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    iBooks Author

    A new free tool, iBooks Author, from Apple that should mean creating content for iBooks on iOS will be much easier.

    Today in New York, Apple gave a presentation which announced three new products and services for education, iBooks 2, iBooks Author and an iTunes U app.

    I wasn’t too impressed with iBooks 2, on the other hand, iBooks Author I think has real potential for practitioners in allowing them to easily create content that will work on the iPad. Practitioners have been wanting a simple tool that allows them to create simple content with added bells and whistles. This will I think have a greater impact than the textbooks for iBooks 2.

    Why?

    Well practitioners now have a tool that allows them to not only easily create content they can give to their learners, it also gives universities, colleges and schools the ability to convert and create content, that they can they give away within iTunes U, but also sell in the iBookstore to learners, not only in their institution, but also sell to other students across the world. You will also see individual practitioners creating and selling educational content that before was only mainly done by publishers and software companies. With iBooks Author there is now a tool that is not only free and simple to download, it is also very easy to use. Practitioners who are using Keynote and Pages (or even Powerpoint) will find that it is relatively simple to reuse or convert content, publish and sell it on Apple’s iBookstore.

    Having given iBooks Author a try, in a similar vein to iWeb if you don’t mind following the Apple template then the app will work just fine. If you want to go out of the box? Then at this time the app isn’t a solution and you will find it very frustrating.

    The export options are limited to iBooks, PDF and text. The PDF option is horrible in that it exports the “pages” in frames with a watermark underneath each one, and none of the media work, even though PDFs can support video and animations. There is also no ePub export option available either. It was rumoured that Apple would be using a ePub3 standard with HTML5 extensions that would allow the use of interactivity and media. Now that may very well be the case, but they are using their version of it which means that firstly any book you create will only really work on the iPad, and won’t work on other readers such as the Sony Reader let alone the Kindle. Secondly if you didn’t want to use iBooks Author to create an iBook then you probably wouldn’t be able to create (easily) an iBook using the ePub3 standard with HTML 5 extensions.

    So there is no easy way to export as ePub or import ePub. From the perspective of the average practitioner this isn’t going to be an issue, but for some learning technologists this will probably create some real headaches if they are trying to reuse or repurpose existing content.

    I can certainly see a lot of practitioners and institutions deciding to create and sell content using iBooks Author and as a 1.0 release I think it has potential, however it currently reminds me too much of iWeb and not enough of Keynote. For “normal” people I think it will be “awesome” and “magical” for everyone else it will be iWeb.

    Get iBooks Author in the Mac App Store.

    6 Responses to “iBooks Author”

    1. Jon Willis says:

      I was really hoping that iBooks Author would give us a better clue to Apple’s vision for a future without Flash, but it stills seems to be mired in the world of kneejerk-reponse-to-Flash. A really awesome dedicated HTML5 authoring platform would have been great …

      I also can’t understand how Apple can release a product whose primary purpose is to produce content for the iPad, but which itself can’t be used on an iPad. And no version for Windows? This is as aggressive a move as making it very difficult to author ios apps on anything but a Mac.

    2. David Newman says:

      The really transformative tool is not iBooks Author. It is Book Creator, an iPad app that makes it dead easy for students (or even staff) to produce e-books from a few photographs and some text. In a few minutes anyone can produce and push to iBooks a professional-looking e-book. So get students writing booklets, rather than reading long textbooks.

    3. Hazel English says:

      Hmm – great tool but what’s this about Apple taking a cut on anything published to the iBooks store or any paid work which uses a book made in iBooks Author?

    4. [...] education, iBooks 2, iBooks Author and an iTunes U app. I’ve already written about iBooks 2 and iBooks Author, so what about iTunes [...]

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