iBooks Author (Review & Free Textbook)

iBooks Author is Apple’s new move into the world of eBook self publishing. I recently wrote a textbook for an event we had at New Hampton School and I thought I would share my impressions of the tool. We’ve been able to create ePubs using Pages for some time but iBooks Author takes self publishing to the iPad to a whole new level.

Getting Started
The process of choosing a template, creating pages, and adding content feels a lot like using Keynote. If you are familiar with that application you’ll be able to get started very quickly. I found it a little awkward at first to change the default images in the template but once I figured that out I had a couple of chapters up and running in no time. Because the iPad is a device you can flip in two different orientations iBooks Author allows you to preview your pages in both landscape and portrait view. This was important because I found some of my pages broke when I switched orientation.


Text and photos are nice but I wanted to add all the bonus features I had seen in the eTextbooks made by the pros iBookstore. Adding quizes, diagrams, videos, intro media, and glossary terms is incredibly easy. My favorite is the self quiz which allows students to review the material presented and check for understanding.


Previewing & Publishing
Previewing your iBook on your iPad is a snap – you don’t need to export your drafts and sync them to your device just to test how it will look. Connect your iPad to your laptop and click the big ‘Preview’ button at the top and your book temporarily is loaded onto your device for you to play with.


Once my book was done and I was satisfied with how it looked I exported it in the .iBooks format, dragged it into iTunes and synced it to my device. Apple also makes it fairly easy to publish your work to the iBookstore. This is something I would like to see be a little easier. For example in contrast to Amazon’s self-publishing platform you need to buy an isbn number before you can sell a book in the iBookstore.


Apple got a bunch of bad press when iBooks Author launched making it seem as if they owned all the content created with the software. As Christina Warren of Mashable writes:

“Immediately after its release, the EULA for iBooks Author was torn apart by the tech press and copyright analysts. The original wording stated that authors would only be able to sell books created in iBooks Author in Apple’s iBookstore. The broadness of the terms made it appear Apple was claiming ownership of the content generated in iBooks Author.”

Although Apple has since revised the EULA I still have some questions about this. Imagine if I couldn’t sell videos I made in iMovie anywhere else but through Apple?! Of course it’s not a violation of the EULA to distribute .iBooks files for free as I’ve done below.


Overall Thoughts
iBooks Author is a free app from the Mac App store that will allow you to make stunning eBooks quickly and easily. If you have used other Mac applications before you will have a short learning curve to making a cool finished product. Some questions remain about selling iBooks through Apple but if you just want to make something for your students or your school district then you don’t have to worry about this. If you want to check out the book I made head on over here, download the file, drag it into iTunes and sync it onto your device.


Have you made an eBook using iBooks Author or another product? Do you think it is fair for Apple to control how iBooks are sold? Let us know in the comments!

Hans Mundahl

Hans Mundahl

Director of Technology Integration at New Hampton School

I've been an educator since 1995 when I first stepped into the classroom as a Fulbright exchange teacher in the former East Germany. Since then I've been an Outward Bound instructor, a teacher, tutor, admission officer, house head, evening administrator on duty and I ran the experiential learning program at New Hampton School for almost ten years. Today I focus on technology integration centered on values-driven technology integration and 1:1 iPad initiatives. Recently I had the chance to help New Hampton School become an Apple Distinguished School and I co-authored the iBook Teaching with the iPad (available on the iBookstore). Now I'm the founder of a scrappy little company (one employee!) called Hans Mundahl and Associates, inc a digital strategy consultancy for schools and non-profits. My free time is usually spent with my family but I'm also passionate about the outdoors and protecting the environment. I'm on the Board of Trustees at the Newfound Lake Region Association and when I have the chance I'm an active hiker, climber, and paddler. My writing appears on EdSocialMedia.com and I speak frequently at technology and education conferences.