First Three Weeks with iBooks Author

UPDATE (10 March): Narration capability? There really isn’t any. While the OS has a built in text-to-speech reader, this is English-only on the system I’m using to write my current book, meaning it only reads some of the words. Given the book I’m writing is partly in Korean (and I’m sure I’m not the only person writing a language book), having the system skip whole phrases and sentences as it reads is less than desirable and makes QCing my work a hassle. Being able to add my own narration would make for a more educational, friendlier, and less robotic product.

Using widgets, I can add audio files, but the amount of space the player takes up is too large, at least for my purposes. All I want is a small play/pause button next to a headline, and the option to have the audio start automatically upon page load. If someone would like to listen, they have that option, if not, I’m not wasting a lot of screen space on an unused player.

I may be the only person on the planet who likes Adobe Captivate’s built-in voice recording and editing features, functionality I would love to see incorporated into Author, along with the smaller player mentioned above. This would allow me to do most of my work in one program, plus build in an unobtrusive option for sound/narration. Instead, as it stands now, I’ve got to use another program for creating and editing my sound files, then paste them into Author (an admittedly easy process), then devote a relatively large section of the screen to a player some or most readers may never use. Not optimal, but forgivable in software as yet only two months old.

Help Center? As you can see from the screenshot, there appear to be some issues with Help Center integration. You can still read enough to get the info you need, but this is obviously not what you want. Hopefully, this will get fixed quickly in a future release.

[ORIGINAL POST] Here are a few initial impressions after three weeks working with Apple’s new iBooks Author program:

  • First off, it is very intuitive and easy to use, almost like something designed by Apple … oh, right.
  • Why is there no option to view the book on a computer? If the books created by the program are meant to be textbooks, then presumably students are going to use the books for reports, and therefore want to copy and paste citations directly into a paper, not retype things they saw on their iPad. I get it that the software is meant to help sell iPads, but it seems overly restrictive to prevent textbooks from appearing on computers. Hopefully this restriction will soon go the way of the old ‘no iTunes on Windows’ idea.
  • The existing templates are nice; adding more in future updates would be even nicer.
  • As an author, I’d like to be able to preview the book, especially the widgets used for quizzing, on my computer without having to hook up an iPad every single time. Why not have an emulator allowing writers to see/test their book, preferably on all versions of the iPad, without having to track down and hook up a version of every last one ever manufactured?
  • Why no option to print? This is an issue I also have with iBooks in general, plus Kindle and Nook. If I, as an author, have no problem with someone printing out my work, and the purchaser/customer would like to print it, who is Apple/Amazon/B&N to prevent that? I would specifically like to make a book with handouts available for teachers to print, copy, and distribute to students – why can’t I do this? And yes, I get it that handouts are not required if everyone in class has an iPad, but that classroom is not my reality.

I’m sure I’ll discover more issues, both good and bad, as I continue to work with what appears to be a great addition to the writer/publisher toolkit. I’ll keep you posted. Thanks for reading; feel free to put your comments below.

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2 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Hi Scott:

    I agree with your comments, except that I did not find as intuitive as I hoped – but that may because I am used to InDesign for layout.

    I did find a couple of irritating bugs (quiz scoring does not work correctly, and movie boxes get randomly resized when previewing) This screws up the rest of the formatting.

    • Scott,

      Celia, you’re right. Based on your comments I went back and took a closer look at quizzing and it does have some weird issues. Thanks for the heads up.

      Scott

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