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What Is iBooks Author?

iBooks Author brings visual richness to e-books that you read on an iPad. iBooks Author supports a wide range of dynamic content that can make an e-book feel as much like an app as a book. That rich approach has amazing potential for book authors to exploit in ways that the standard e-book simply doesn’t.

So say good-bye to needing to be an HTML coder to do more than a plain e-book with iBooks Author: It directly produces the code for many common book elements.

You can’t create e-books for other e-readers, iPhones, iPod touches, or other devices — only for iBooks on the iPad. If you want e-books that work on these other devices, you have to create such books with other tools, even if they use the same text and some of the same images.

iBooks Author offers an amazingly rich set of capabilities. In fact, you’re working with different kinds of content than what you can in a print book or standard e-book:

  • Text: Unlike a print book but like an e-book, you can have hyperlinks and cross-references that a reader can tap to jump to the other content immediately. Hyperlinks in iBooks Author work the same way as any e-book. You create a table of contents in a similar way to standard e-books, and you don’t necessarily need to have an index because the reader can simply search the e-book. (In fact, none of the e-book tools even let you create indexes.) But iBooks Author makes it much easier to create hyperlinked cross-references to other parts of the book, as well as to figures and glossary entries, than traditional e-book editing tools do.

  • Tables and charts: Unlike a print book or other e-book, iBooks Author e-books’ tables can include calculations such as those used in spreadsheets. That can save you effort in ensuring the accuracy of data in the tables presented to readers. (Readers can’t run those calculations, such as with different data, so this capability is interactive only when creating the e-book.) Likewise, you can create all sorts of charts whose data you can edit and whose display you can control in iBooks Author (again, readers can’t edit the data on the iPad).

  • Graphics: In print books and regular e-books, graphics are static, and if you have a gallery of them, you have to use a lot of pages to show them all. A PDF book can have rollover objects and other forms of interactivity, as well as let you produce slideshow-like image galleries. So can iBooks Author, and its tools are easier than those for PDFs. Plus, it lets you use 3D objects that readers can turn to explore them from any angle; not even PDF files can do that.

  • Video and audio files: Of course, print books can’t play video or audio. Neither can regular e-books (though they can link to such content to be played in the browser or other app). iBooks Author can play these files directly from the e-book, much as a PDF file can.

  • Slideshows: iBooks Author takes the playback concept to a level no one else does: It gives you the ability to play a slideshow (specifically, in Apple’s Keynote format).

  • Web widgets: Another only-in-iBooks-Author capability, you can include web functionality by using the HTML and JavaScript languages to access web data or create simple apps that run within the e-book.

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