Apple / eBooks / Education / Uncategorized

Want to make an iBook? Read these 7 Tips first!

iBooks Author logo

The topic of iBooks has gained some real momentum over the last few months.  With Apple’s latest operating system “Lion,” users were also given access to iBooks Author, fully-functional software for creating iBooks.  This was a big deal.

To be perfectly honest, iBooks Author is a well-featured application that makes creating iBooks…enjoyable!

I spent about three days reading about the software and gathering some hints, but there weren’t many good resources out there yet.  Hopefully someone will find that these tips helped them learn iBooks Author well.  Here on my notes:

1.  Yes! There are templates. Pretty ones.

iBooks Author offers templates that are designed to take text book content.  There are page templates that you can begin using within minutes.  You also have the option to customize the fields on a page, allowing for creativity if you have design experience.  True graphic designers may choose to avoid templates but they give the rest of us an easy start in the right direction.

iBooks Templates

iBooks Templates (cover choices)

iBooks Template Chapter Title Page

iBooks Template Chapter Title Page

iBooks Template Page

iBooks Template Page

2.  Don’t count on being able to drop in a Word document (.doc/.odt, etc)

Unless you’ve spent a lot of time perfecting the formatting of your document with anchored/unanchored images and proper section breaks, things may align in a funny way after you import.  Time may be better spent copying and pasting text into text boxes and fields.

3.  Styling and adding widgets is easy, moderate use and your work will look clean.

Visuals help engage learners. iBooks Author provides text boxes, shapes, tables, charts, and widgets.  Here are screen shots.

Sample of iBook

Sample of iBook

Interactive Image & Gallery Widgets for iBook

Interactive Image & Gallery Widgets for iBook

 4.  Use Intro Media

Drag-and-drop a movie or image onto this page and you can personally introduce the topic of the book.  Videos need to be in .m4v format, which many programs can export to.

iBooks Author Intro Media

iBooks Author Intro Media

5.  You need an iPad to test the iBook’s functionality

If you don’t have one already, you may want to ask around to borrow one (I did).  You’re able to preview your iBook on an iPad before you publish it.  You can test all of the functions, which look even better once they’re on the iPad.

6.   You can export the iBook in .PDF format

This is an option to bring the content onto another eReader.  Most newer eReaders can read PDFs well, but you will lose the interactive features of the iBooks format.  Still, it’s an option.

7.  You should try it!

If you’re running Mac OSX Snow Leopard, an update to OSX Lion is only $30.  I would pay $30 for this product on it’s own, which says a lot.  Have some content or a learning module you want to put into iBook format?  It’s doable.  Yep, you can also write books of any genre or style using page templates.


My first iBook making experience was mildy frustrating due to my Word-to-iBooks-Author formatting issues.  Still it’s a great piece of software is bringing interactive eBooks to the masses.

Have you tried iBooks Author?  Have any tips or questions?  Comment below!

6 thoughts on “Want to make an iBook? Read these 7 Tips first!

  1. Nice review. I recently upgraded to Lion and am interested in giving an iBooks Author a try. I especially appreciate the tips related to using Word. Looking forward to hearing more about your adventures with eBooks in general! Thanks.

    • Thanks for the comment, Melissa. Looking forward to hearing about your experience with iBooks Author once you begin working on a book. Back here at UH there is discussion about ePub/hPub/iBook formats and the tools around to create them. Interesting area to be looking at considering the growing interest in tablet integration!

  2. Billy, thanks for the tips. Do you think it makes more sense to do a whole project in iBooks or to use a general text editor and then bring that into IBooks?

    • Welcome, Ted. Whenever planning a book project like this, I would encourage you to make an outline of your chapters and sections before placing your content in iBooks. Filling out the text content of your book in a work editor before bringing over into iBooks is a good idea, too. The formatting features of iBooks are many, but they can be tricky to manipulate and are best left as finishing steps when your book is nearing completion. Good luck!

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