When it comes to electronic books, our favorite Mac maker hasn’t had much success. Other than getting publishers and Amazon to change their contract arrangements, it’s been most downhill for Apple. First, the company was sued by the Justice Department for alleged price fixing, then assigned a monitor to prevent the company from doing it again, and along the way the publishing industry decided to stay in the 19th century instead of embracing Apple’s vision for an interactive publishing future.
Estimates put Apple’s iBook Store share of the electronic books market at about 20-percent, far below behemoth Amazon. Not long after launching iBooks Store, Apple published the iBooks Author apps so Mac users could create and publish iBooks for iPad.
Unfortunately, modern technology seems to have found a black hole in the archaic publishing industry, and few new titles have been authored and published with iBooks Author.
After all, iBooks Author is to modern ebook publishing what PageMaker and InDesign were to publishing in the 20th century. Except iBooks Author lets writers and publishers create totally interactive electronic books, fully equipped with video, audio, interactive diagrams, objects in 3D and much more.
Think desktop publishing but for electronic books that run on the iPad vs. Amazon’s popular Kindle device which merely displays text. It’s almost as if 21st century publishers are embracing the 19th century.
I consider iBooks Author to be one of Apple’s most underrated and underused applications on the Mac. Creating and interactive multi-media electronic book isn’t child’s play, but it’s simple enough to create books that go far beyond what Kindle or Kindle Fire devices can display.
A book created in iBooks Author can have swipe-friendly photo galleries, scrolling sidebars, pop-up widgets, and built-in animations.
For readers with disabilities, iBooks Author is typical Apple, with instant and accessible table of contents, glossary, and VoiceOver technology, as well as accessibility descriptions so those with vision impairments can read an electronic book.
iBooks Author is a great tool for manuals and handbooks, brochures and textbooks– fully interactive, fully customizable. The app begins with plenty of templates to get started, and the third party market has many others available from free to nominal prices. Each can be customized and personalized so each electronic, interactive book is easily differentiated from others.
Books are easily created in either portrait or landscape mode, and made specifically for Apple’s iPad, and that might be the problem. Export options are nominal with iBooks Author and include the iBooks format, plain text, and PDFs. These books won’t make nice-nice on a Kindle device.
That said, Apple couldn’t make publishing a book from your Mac to the iBook Store much easier. All it takes is a description and a few clicks and your publication is, well, published and ready for purchase. It’s unfortunate that the US Justice Department decided Amazon’s publishing and distribution monopoly was acceptable, while Apple’s entry into the industry was not.
If you’ve ever wanted to write your own book and have it published for sale online, there is no easier way than Apple’s iBook Author app. And it’s free.