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Take Control of iBooks Author
Mar 27, 2013

Take Control of iBooks Author

Plan, produce, and publish a Multi-Touch ebook for the iPad!

Although Apple’s iBooks Author 2 is free, that doesn’t mean it’s also easy. In Take Control of iBooks Author, you’ll join ebook designer and instructional software developer Michael E. Cohen as he helps you create a Multi-Touch ebook in iBooks Author 2.

You’ll find friendly guidance with planning a project so that your workflow and outline fit what iBooks Author 2 can do. You’ll also get comprehensive step-by-step instructions for how to produce your ebook by customizing layouts and arranging text and media. Finally, you’ll learn how to publish your ebook, whether for distribution on Apple’s iBookstore or elsewhere.

Free Multi-Touch sample! So you can read it anywhere, we’ve published Take Control of iBooks Author in PDF, EPUB, and Mobipocket formats, just like most other Take Control ebooks. But, we’ve also made a free Multi-Touch book from some of the same content. You can download Take Control of Getting Ready for iBooks Author on your iPad and “Open in” in iBooks, or download it to your Mac and sync it to iBooks via iTunes.

More Info

Apple’s Multi-Touch ebooks boast visually impressive, template-driven layouts that can contain many types of media—including interactive images, slideshows, audio and video files, rotating 3D images, scrolling sidebars, popping popovers, and quiz questions. You create them on your Mac in the free iBooks Author 2 from Apple, and you can sell them to iPad users in the iBookstore or distribute them for free in any way you like. (iBooks Author 2 runs on Mac OS X 10.7.4 Lion and later.)

Read this ebook for expert advice on how to:

Plan Your Project!

  • Give your content a “spine,” and design it to flow comfortably into an iBooks Author template.
  • Determine what special types of media your book will contain—including audio files, video files, slideshows, charts and tables, graphics, interactive graphics, 3D rotating graphics (COLLADA), and study questions. You’ll learn what your options are, and what file formats are needed.
  • Decide whether to write your text in iBooks Author or in another program—and, if you decide to write outside of iBooks Author, learn how to import your content efficiently.

Produce Your Book!

  • Pick an iBooks Author template and customize it—whether it’s one of the six new Portrait Only templates or a Landscape with Portrait template, you’ll get detailed advice for customizing it so your book looks right no matter which way you turn it.
  • Add new chapters, sections, and pages to your book.
  • Make your text flow through your book, and understand how to control the flow.
  • Import and position graphics, videos, and other media items, so that they appear where you want them to—and understand why and how these elements may appear as thumbnails.
  • Make an imported graphic interactive with tappable elements that reveal additional information.
  • Create and configure study questions (and answers).
  • Add an interactive glossary and index, and understand how they interact.
  • Learn how iBooks Author generates a table of contents, and tweak your table of contents.
  • Make internal hyperlinks and external links to the Web.


  • Export your ebook as a basic PDF or text file (for people who want to read your book, but don’t have an iPad).
  • Export your ebook as a Multi-Touch ebook that can be read exclusively in iBooks on the iPad.
  • Get set up to make your ebook available through Apple’s iBookstore.
  • Upload your completed project to the iBookstore.
What's New

What’s New in Version 1.1

This 1.1 version of Take Control of iBooks Author takes into account the changes and enhancements in iBooks Author 2.0 (see Apple’s Support document What’s new in iBooks Author 2.0). The most notable revisions in the ebook are these:

  • In Import Text I added information about how to use section breaks in an imported document so that it imports as multiple chapters or sections, plus I now provide more details about importing from Pages or Word. I also added more help in Importing Tips
  • In Choose a Template, I have taken into account the expanded range of templates in iBooks Author 2.0 and discussed some of the specialized templates that are now included. In particular, I describe the new Portrait Only templates in Choose between Portrait and Landscape Templates. In addition, I now refer to the portrait view in the original landscape templates from iBooks Author 1 as the “alternate portrait view” to distinguish it from the Portrait Only template.
  • Several options available when you Customize the Opening have changed. The removal of the audio option and the expansion of video formats for Intro Media is documented in Change the Intro Media. Change the Table of Contents now takes into account Portrait Only templates.
  • iBooks Author 2 adds the ability to create new chapter, section, and page layouts; I talk about those in Modify the Layouts. iBooks Author 2 also subtly modifies how much you can customize the alternate portrait layouts in a Landscape with Portrait template: I discuss that in Change an Alternate Portrait Chapter Layout and Change a Section Layout.
  • In Lay Them Out like Widgets, I describe the new Make Full Screen on Tap option for images, shapes, and other objects and how it affects the alternate portrait view.
  • I point you to information about adding complex mathematical equations with MathML and LaTeX in By the Numbers.
  • iBooks Author can now use any audio and video format that QuickTime supports in its Media widget, so I’ve removed information about converting media from Add Video and Audio, since iBooks Author now does that for you. I also describe the new presentation options for audio-only Media widgets in that section.
  • Add Interactive Presentations now covers how to Add Scrolling Sidebars and Pop-Overs and updates the descriptions of the other widgets.
  • The workflow for publishing books has been streamlined (see Prepare an iTunes Store Package), and a method of distributing books, Apple’s iTunes U, has become more open (see Consider iTunes U).

What versions of Mac OS X does iBooks Author work with?

iBooks Author works only with Mac OS X 10.7 Lion or above (including OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion) and is available only through the Mac App Store.

Update Plans

March 28, 2013 – Now that we’ve released version 1.1 of this ebook, which covers version 2.0 of iBooks Author, we have no particular plans to update the ebook once again. Although we had fun exploring the nooks and crannies of iBooks Author, we may (or may not) choose to travel this path again should Apple release another big new version of iBooks Author.

Posted by Adam Engst

  1. EPUB Templates Now Provide Pop-Over Support, Improved Import

    iBooks Author 2.4 has been released by Apple, and it includes enhancements to its recently introduced EPUB (or, as Apple consistently insists on misspelling it, “ePub”) templates. The notable enhancement is that EPUBs produced by iBooks Author can now employ Pop-Over widgets. In addition, the release note says that EPUB templates in 2.4 also include unspecified “minor usability improvements.”

    Apple followed up the release notes provided in Software Update with an email to users of iTunes Connect that describes import improvements in iBooks Author:

    With the latest version of iBooks Author, we have improved the import function for Pages and Microsoft Word documents. For best results, you should use section breaks between chapters when you write your book in Pages or Microsoft Word.

    Posted by Adam Engst (Permalink)

  2. iBooks Author Update Adds EPUB; iOS 8.4 Adds Multi-Touch Book Capability on iPhone

    Apple has released version 2.3 of iBooks Author to accompany the releases of iOS 8.4 and OS X 10.3.3. The new version of iOS brings with it a new version of the iBooks app, version 4.3, that can now open and display Multi-Touch books on iPhone.

    That’s pretty big news, but the bigger news is that iBooks Author now offers two EPUB templates. Using those, one can create EPUBs in iBooks Author using the File > Export command. Here’s what the iBooks Author Help has to say about EPUBs:

    The ePub templates are designed for novels, mysteries, and other books with a lot of text. You can allow readers to scroll through the book or swipe to turn pages. You can include any objects and media on the book cover and the table of contents header, and for the body pages, you can choose from a set of objects specially selected for ePub books—tables, images, and Gallery, Media, and HTML widgets. (If an object is unavailable, the tools and inspector controls for working with it are hidden or dimmed.)

    The Help also notes some limitations in EPUBs created by iBooks Author:

    While reading a book created with an ePub template, iBooks users can change the font size and screen brightness, but can’t change the font style or read in night mode (light text on a dark page).

    Posted by Adam Engst (Permalink)

  3. iBooks Author 2.2 Arrives with New Import Capabilities

    Concurrent with the release of OS X 10.10 Yosemite, Apple has released an update to iBooks Author, bringing it to version 2.2. One of the update’s big features is the ability to import an unprotected EPUB directly into iBooks Author as a new book. The TidBITS article “iBooks Author Gains New Import Options” takes a close look at what else the free update delivers.

    Posted by Adam Engst (Permalink)

  4. iBooks Author 2.1 Update Released, Allows Previewing in iBooks for Mac on Mavericks

    Available through Software Update, iBooks Author 2.1 does away with the requirement to connect an iPad to your Mac via cable in order to preview a Multi-Touch book in process: you can now preview books directly in iBooks on your Mac…if, of course, you are running Mavericks with the new iBooks app for Mac. The update also fixes a problem with enhanced caption tracks in some movies and provides the usual unspecified “bug fixes and performance improvements” that we are accustomed to seeing in Apple updates.

    Posted by Adam Engst (Permalink)

  5. Ebooks, Footnotes, and Skeuomorphs, Oh my!

    If you’ve been wondering about the place of traditional footnotes in a Multi-Touch book, you might find this article on TidBITS, “Ebooks, Footnotes, and Skeuomorphs, Oh My!,” 4 June 2013, of some interest.

    Posted by Adam Engst (Permalink)

  6. Michael in Your Pocket (Sized Podcast)

    Michael chatted with Scott Willsey and Peter Nikolaidis of Pocket Sized Podcast about iBooks Author and how best to approach using it last week, and a good time was had by all. The interview begins about 8 minutes into the show.

    Posted by Adam Engst (Permalink)

  7. MacVoices Talks with Michael about iBooks Author

    Within hours of completing the 1.1 version of Take Control of iBooks Author, Michael virtually met up with Chuck Joiner to talk about what is new with the iBooks Author software, how Apple is progressing with its Multi-Touch textbook initiative, and where interactive text seems to be going. Hear or watch the interview on MacVoices.

    Posted by Adam Engst (Permalink)

  8. Michael E. Cohen, the Back Story

    Although many Mac writers could have written Take Control of iBooks Author, Michael was my first pick because of his extensive experience with the digital book genre. TUAW has published an interview with Michael in which he talks about his prior experiences at the Voyager Company and brings them into context by looking at what he likes (and doesn’t like) about iBooks Author.

    Posted by Adam Engst (Permalink)

  9. In Which Michael and Chuck Discuss Ebooks, Education, and iBooks Author

    Watch (or listen) as Chuck Joiner and I spend 40 minutes discussing Take Control of iBooks Author, its related ebook, Take Control of Getting Ready for iBooks Author, and the long, winding road from ebooks on floppy disk to today’s interactive Multi-Touch books.

    Posted by Adam Engst (Permalink)

  10. Getting the Book Invented Properly

    Coincidentally, the day after Take Control of iBooks Author was released, The Literary Platform, a site that showcases projects experimenting with literature and technology, announced the winner of its Douglas Adams Animation competition. Entries in that competition had to provide animation for an audio track that Douglas Adams recorded in the early 1990s to promote the Voyager Expanded Books. A crunchy-sounding 8-bit-audio recording, in fact. The recording used for the competition’s winning entry has had a musical background added; you can find my personal copy of the original recording (converted to AAC audio) here.

    Posted by Adam Engst (Permalink)

The Author

Michael E. Cohen has taught English composition, worked as a programmer for NASA’s Deep Space Network, helped develop the first commercial ebooks at the Voyager Company, and co-founded a major university’s Humanities computing center. He has written several books, including Take Control of PDFpen, Take Control of Pages, and Take Control of TextExpander.