For those that missed it earlier today Apple announced their plan to begin domination of the worldwide textbook market with the new iBooks 2.0 app for iPad. Apple also released a new tool for easily creating interactive eBooks, iBooks Author, allowing for anyone to easily publish to their new iBooks 2.0 app.
While iBooks Author was created with not just developers in mind with so many apps being educational apps this could be a great opportunity.
Like all Apple’s new features and with a new iPad due to be announced in a few months you can expect apple will be promoting iBooks 2.0 like mad so it’s probably best to get started as soon as possible.
Here’s a quick summary of what you’ll want to know if you want to do some iBooks 2.0 publishing:
– The iBooks creator itself is free, but you’ll need to install Mac OS X Lion to use it (so yes, no Windows support !).
– You can download the iBooks Author here.
– You don’t need a developer account and there is no up front cost to publish on iBooks. You can sign up to publish book content here.
– Apple takes the same 30% cut as with apps.
– You will need ISBN numbers for the books you want to distribute. I read some big blog saying these numbers cost $125, but I see ISBN.org selling them in packages for considerably less through here ($250 for 10) I’ve also seen them for as little as $5, but I cannot vouch for their legitimacy. However, there are apparently government agencies in some countries that can provide ISBN numbers free of charge.
– This is not a replacement for a word processor, but you can import easily from both Pages and Word. You do get many text formatting options so once you’ve written your content you can format it in iBooks Author.
– You can implant shapes, text, tables, and charts just like you can in the iWork line of apps.
– There is a widget for touch controlled 3D models and the preferred format is OpenCollada. Read Apple’s best practices for 3D models here.
– Apple provides some custom other widgets allowing you to easily embed a slick touch enabled image gallery, movies or audio, quiz style questions, Keynote presentations, and interactive images.
– You’ll need an iPad to preview the books you’ve created.
– iBooks creator can export beautiful PDF’s, but the PDFs are watermarked with an Apple iBooks stamp.
– Published books are quite large and can be up to 2.0 GB so you probably should have bought the iPad with the bigger storage!
Overall Apple has created a very nice, and easy to use application for creating interactive books, and it works well with their existing desktop apps.
While Apple has been promoting this as a textbook killer, let’s face it – it’s likely to kill a lot of apps out there too so we’ll need to adapt. It might be time to look up some of those old Dashcode widget creation guides.