Apple’s iBooks Author and Self-Published Textbooks: A Work in Progress

Steven D. Krause | Eastern Michigan University | | 2013 CCCC Poster Sessions | Las Vegas, NV


My poster presentation is about my first-hand experiences in transforming a“self-published” first year composition textbook from a web site and a series of PDFs into a new edition for the iPad using Apple’s iBooks Author software. While iBooks Author does allow writers to export their work as a PDF, the real power and interactive features made possible by the software are designed exclusively for reading on the iPad. 

What is iBooks Author?

iBooks Author is Apple’s free layout software for producing interactive electronic books for the iPad. 

While it was originally designed for publishing textbooks, iBooks Author can be used to do simple page layout for any electronic book for the iPad.

It’s free, it’s easy to use, and besides being a handy tool for self-publishing textbooks and other course materials, it is an excellent introductory software for student electronic publishing. 

How does it work?

More or less, it’s a “drag and drop” desktop publishing application.  It has all the features of its usual text editors along.

For my demonstration here, I dropped in MS Word text from three chapters of The Process for Research for Writing.  Then I reformatted the iPad version using the tools in iBooks Author.

But it’s more than text!

iBooks author has relatively sophisticated layout for formatting in landscape or portrait mode and a full suite of text styling tools.  Writers can make links within the text and to web sites. Writers can incorporate images of course, but iBooks also supports video, audio, embedded Keynote presentations, interactive images, 3D Collada files, HTML widgets, and other layout features.

(Screenshots of the iPad application)

Click here to download a copy of The Process of Research Writing to your iPad!

The easiest way to open this book is to click on the above link while browsing this site on your iPad, download the book, and use iBook to open the file.  Note this requires the most recent version of iBook.
You can download the file in other ways too, but you can't view the book on anything other than an iPad.

(A screen shot of iBooks interface)

iBooks Author outputs in the format “ibooks” for the iPad. Writers can distribute their iBooks via iTunes either for free or for a fee.  Writers need to be registered with Apple.

iBook writers can also distribute their ebooks for free via iTunesU and as an ibooks or pdf distributed via the web or via email.

Writers retain ownership and copyright of their work even if they sell it through the iTunes store.

The Cons…
iPad only.  It’s not compatible with other eReaders or even on Apple laptops or iPhones. The content can be exported as a PDF, but that is a poor substitute.

Not compatible with other software.  iBooks Author isn’t easily compatible with other eBook formats.

If you want to sell your book, it has to be done through Apple.  And apple gets its cut of your profits through the iTunes store.

Two invaluable resources: