Organizations are frequently challenged to develop compelling brochures, training materials, documentation, instruction manuals, directions, white papers, presentations, and even eBooks. Apple's new, and free, iBooks Author app is an approachable tool that enables non-designers the ability to design, produce, author, edit and test electronic interactive books.
More than text and images
While many applications struggle to effectively empower the user to design and publish projects featuring just text and images, the iBooks Author app packs serious capacity in a deceptively simple, easy-to-use program.
Business users download the application directly from Apple's app store. Once loaded on a Mac, the app starts by presenting a half dozen pre-designed templates. As with other Apple programs, these aren't just plain, straightforward templates but attractive, sharp and professional appearing wireframes users can leverage to produce arresting materials.
iBook Author exceeds many competing eBook publishing systems by accommodating multimedia. Users can import audio files and movies and video files. The program also supports building electronic publications capable of leveraging Apple iBook's Multi-Touch features, thereby making it possible for even casual business users to create interactive books previously associated with expensive marketing agencies and publication firms.
Templates, widgets, graphing and shape tools, and a table utility make getting started developing a book easy. Drag-and-drop support for Word and Pages documents, previously created presentations, and even HTML code, further extend the program's authoring and design capabilities.
Widgets simplify creating more complex projects. Widgets exist to add HTML, import Keynote presentations, include interactive images, import photo galleries, and add 3D images. Widgets are also available for adding media clips and multiple choice section-ending reviews.
Once a project is built, users can test the creations using an iPad. When edits are complete, and a project is ready for distribution, users can export finished works privately to other users for viewing on Macs and iPads.
iBooks Author projects can also be publicly distributed via Apple's iBookstore. To distribute an iBook Author project via the iBookstore, users can create either a free or paid books account, download the free iTunes Producer, activate a contract, and publish their work. A key difference between the free and paid books account is only a paid books account holder can sell creations.
Have additional questions? Apple maintains a FAQ addressing its publishing process. Those commonly asked questions, and the corresponding answers, can be read here.
TechRepublic: Learn how to create ebooks for the iPad
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.