iBooks Author 101: An Overview

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If you're reading this, chances are you've heard about the incredible new authoring application from Apple called iBooks Author. But you might be wondering: What is it? How hard is it to learn? What is the application really capable of doing? Can I see some examples? 

In this post, you'll learn everything you need to know to get started and working with iBooks Author. 

What is iBooks Author?

iBooks Author is an incredibly powerful free application from Apple Inc. that helps you create and publish your own interactive ebooks. The drag and drop interface makes it easy to add video, interactive diagrams, galleries, 3D objects, and more without any technical skills. With iBooks Author, anyone can build a digital book that's not just fun to read - it's fun to explore. 

Demo iBook Created with iBooks Author

All we can say is - wow!

With iBooks Author, now you can create a book just like that too. In the section below, we're going to go over all the amazing features available to you within the application.

iBooks Author Feature Overview

Intro Media and Video Widget

You probably noticed that a cool introduction video started to play immediately when the book was opened. This is a nice feature for anyone looking to have a fun and stunning introduction to their content.

If you want to have a video play in context somewhere in the content of your book, the video widget makes it easy for you to just drag and drop both self-hosted and third party content, like a YouTube or Vimeo video, anywhere on the page.

3D Objects

The 3D object widget makes it easy for readers to manipulate an object by touch. For example, instead of seeing a flat drawing of a three dimensional organic chemistry molecule, they can manipulate a 3D image of the molecule to see all the way around it. iBooks Author even gives you the option to adjust the background, allow readers to rotate the object freely, or constrain its movement to horizontal or vertical rotation.

Interactive Images 

Add some magic to you images by making them interactive. You can add callouts and pan-and-zoom features to enhance any picture and add even more to the experience.

Galleries

A gallery widget allows you to group photos in one place instead of one per page. This allows readers to swipe through a collection of interactive photos and captions with their finger and even double tap to make full screen. They can navigate the gallery using photo thumbnails or step through images one at a time.

Scrolling Sidebar

With scrolling sidebars, you can insert large portions of text that the reader can scroll through without changing the page. This is great for getting a lot of information in one area while avoiding screen changes.

Insert Entire Keynote Presentations

Want to include a Keynote presentation inside of your book? No problem. The Keynote widget let’s you drag and drop an entire Keynote presentation anywhere inside your book.  Intuitive controls for slide navigation and optional self-playing presentations make this widget even better. Now your readers can browse through a Keynote presentation (even ones with custom animations) — all without leaving the book.

Audio

Adding audio is just as simple as video - but you can also make words or images be the source of the sound. So if you were creating a book about wine and wanted someone to hear how you pronounce a certain term, you could make it so that if the reader touches the word they'll hear an audio clip of someone pronouncing the word.

Pop-Overs

A pop-over widget allows you to create an object that when tapped a "pop-up window" appear with text, images, or shapes inside of it. This allows you to provide additional information or instructions to the reader, for example, how to use an object on the screen. 

Equations

If you happen to be creating a book involving equations, this widget will be a huge time-saver. iBooks Author 2.0 supports three new options for equations; MathType, Latex, or MathML. You can adjust the font and color of an equation just the same way you would regular text.

To Get Started with iBooks Author, you'll need:  

  1. A Macintosh desktop or laptop computer
  2. Your computer needs to be running OSX 10.7 or later.
  3. If you'd like to be able to view your book as you create it, you’ll need an iPad with iBooks 3.0 installed (free).  
  4. Download and install the free iBooks Author Application from the App Store here.