We stated on the first day the iPad became available that the world had fundamentally changed, not just in how we would interact with computers going forward, but in how we would interact with the world. The intervening two years (only two?) have proved us right. The iPad has changed the way we get information, be entertained, and do just about everything. Many people don’t bother with newspapers or magazines any more. Some don’t even use their laptops as much as they used to. Why bother when you can get the news, read magazines, and surf the Web on the iPad? With the iPad’s ease of use, the device itself became almost invisible. Users now focus on the task rather than the hardware. Isn’t that the way it is suppose to be?
The iPad has always been able to display EPUB and PDF files in book-like way. With the ability to automatically reflow text based on size and screen orientation, everyone understood the potential of the iPad for electronic publishing. The missing component for true egalitarian iPad e-publishing, however, was the ability to do all the cool stuff (embed video, slideshow, audio, etc) available to custom-built iPad apps without needing to hire programmers to do it. Where was “PageMaker” for the iPad? Adobe came out with something in 2011 which enabled those willing to cough up some serious cash to publish to the iPad, as long as you already had Adobe Creative Suite. As cool as the tools were, the pricing way out of whack with reality for small publishers, i.e, people who wanted to share their ideas/knowledge in something other than a blog or a website.
At the beginning of 2012, Apple announced they would make available the means for anyone to publish interactive text books for the iPad. The news rocked the publishing world. We are, of course, referring to the iBooks Author application. All the players, big and small, scrambled to try to better understand the impact that this free program will have on their business.
As expected, the iBooks Author software is very easy to use. No programming skills are needed to create iPad-specific, touch-friendly apps. We were able to convert our Thousand Character Reference app to an iBook in less than a day. Not everything transferred perfectly, but it was close enough that we can see the enormous potential iBooks Author give to those interested in self-publishing for the eBook market.
After using iBooks Author for a few weeks, we realized that thing that took up the largest chunk of time was the creation and laying out of templates for different types of books. No matter how easy it is to create a template, making ones which look good can still be challenging. Apple’s six default templates are good starting points, but it would be easier if we had a wider selection.
Jumsoft’s Book Palette is a set of twenty templates specifically designed for use with Apple’s iBooks Author app. The set cost $9.99 and may be downloaded directly from the App Store. In the set are templates for e-books, business publications, and even a cookbook. All the pages of the templates (title, chapter, section, text) can be easily modified to suit specific needs.
However, one thing to note with the templates from Macmanus is that some of them have images in the “chapter” and “section” pages. In order to use them, you would need to replace the stock images with different ones for each new chapters and sections.
Using pre-made templates for iBooks authoring is a no-brainer. The cost is nominal and the time-savings can be significant. They let self-publishers focus on the content rather than the creative and mechanical aspect of layout and design. Check them out, use them, and publish something cool. You won’t believe how easy it is with iBooks Author!