iPhone and iPad

How To Write Your First Book In iBooks Author

Bakari Chavanu 30-01-2012

ibooks authorIf you have ever wanted to write a book and get it published, Apple’s latest— and possibly game changing software–iBooks Author might very well be the easiest and fastest way to get it done.


Apple recently introduced iBooks Author in a live presentation at the Guggenheim in New York. The software is aimed at textbook writers and publishers, but it can just as well be used for producing cookbooks, picture books, interactive fiction novels, how-to books, and the like.

iBooks Author looks to be the first consumer-based e-Pub software designed for multimedia books.


Feature Overview

E-books designed with iBooks Author are basically geared to be read on the iPad platform using the recently updated iBooks 2 reader app. iBooks Author books can however be exported to PDF format, and to plain text format—excluding the embedded images and other media.

ibooks author


If you’re familiar with Apple’s desktop publishing application, Pages How to Create Impressive Pages Documents and Templates on Mac The price isn’t the only reason to give Pages a spin — it's packed with ready-to-use templates that will make your work look fantastic. Read More , you’ll feel at home with iBooks Author. Both programs share a similar interface, including text editor formatting tools and page layouts, and the familiar drop and add multimedia features.

ibooks author page

iBooks Author, however, also includes several unique features including what are called Widgets, which allow you to include interactive images, 3D objects, Keynote presentations, custom HTML, and a review study guide tool for textbooks.

ibooks author page


iBooks Author opens with six basic templates to get you started. You can write a book from scratch, but you also can import existing Pages and Word documents.

ibooks author page

For the purposes of this review, I imported my Awesome Guide To Mac Automation, formatted in Word. iBooks Author pretty much kept all my text, font and header styles, screenshots, and titles in place. However, it did put extra spaces between the paragraphs.

how ibooks works


Extra Features

iBooks Author is a pretty familiar text editor, so let’s focus on some of its unique features.

how ibooks works

Because multimedia books produced in iBooks Author are primarily designed to be read and consumed on the iPad using the iBooks 2, by default you lay out books in landscape orientation, rather than the traditional portrait view.

In either view, the content remains the same, but the landscape view provides more interactive features. You can, for example, design your book so that readers can view a gallery of photos, or tap and watch an embedded video, or use various multi-touch gestures with say interactive maps and 3D objects. Portrait view on the other hand, pushes photos and interactive media to the side and puts the focus on text, with a more Read-only format.


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iBooks Author also includes a textbook Glossary feature which allows you to not only select special terms and definitions but to also include related glossary terms for cross-referencing.

how ibooks works

As with traditional textbooks, iBooks Author enables you to create multiple-choice review questions that can be placed at the end of each chapter of your textbook.

How To Write Your First Book In iBooks Author accessibility

iPad Preview

Though iBooks Author is a WYSIWG desktop editor, you have to physically connect your iPad to your Mac in order to preview your book. Unfortunately Apple has not yet created an iBooks reader for the Mac. To view your book, you launch iBooks 2 on your connected iPad and then you click the iPad icon Preview button in the toolbar of iBooks Author. iBooks Author will send a Proof copy of your book which you can update as you a make changes to your book in iBooks Author.

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This preview gives you the opportunity to see how the layout and multimedia features of your book will appear and work.

How To Write Your First Book In iBooks Author accessibility

The iBook 2 reader includes features specifically for iBook Author-designed books and textbooks. In this updated version, for instance, you can use the highlighter simply by pressing down and over selected text with your finger, without having to make two or three taps that are still required with regular e-books.

iBooks 2 also comes with a dedicated flash card feature (that you of course create in iBooks Author), and a notepad that lists all of your highlights and typed notes.

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However, Apple still does not allow you to export and share highlighted text in iBooks, but you can e-mail your written notes.

The updated features in iBooks 2 are good improvements, but its annotation tools for studying are still inadequate. Apple would do well to learn from iOS PDF reader apps, like iAnnotate for the types of tools  and features iBooks are still missing. For instance, the bookmarking tool in iBooks doesn’t allow you to change the name of the bookmark page. So when you review your bookmarks, all you get are the page numbers, which when reading and studying large textbooks is very inadequate for studying.

ibooks author

Both iBooks Author, which requires OS X Lion, and the iOS 5 version iBooks 2 are available are for free in their respective app stores.

Let us know what you think of these programs. What tools and features would you like to see added to them. Do you think iBooks Author will be a game changer for education?

Related topics: Ebooks, iBooks, Reading, Writing Tips.

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  1. Billie
    July 20, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    Will be able to place the book for sale on iTunes or will it be only available for free? And if so how do i make it for sale?

  2. Chris
    July 13, 2012 at 1:35 am

    If you produce a free book can you use pictures off of the Internet?

    • Bakari Chavanu
      July 13, 2012 at 8:52 pm

      Hmmm, I would say no, Chris. If your book is for personal use, that's fine. But when you distribute the book over the internet, then you can run into copyright issues.

  3. Alana
    April 21, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Very helpful website!

    • Bakari Chavanu
      July 13, 2012 at 8:53 pm

      Thanks for the feedback, Alana.

  4. Question
    April 16, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    Do you know how to make an interactive image?

  5. Cap
    March 24, 2012 at 1:08 am

    What a great web log. I spend hours on the net reading blogs, about tons of iorvaus subjects. I have to first of all give praise to whoever created your theme and second of all to you for writing what i can only describe as an fabulous article. I honestly believe there is a skill to writing articles that only very few posses and honestly you got it. The combining of demonstrative and upper-class content is by all odds super rare with the astronomic amount of blogs on the cyberspace.

  6. Vitoria
    March 22, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    hey this is good to know, its really nice to see such good inmorfation on a vid, the true is you can buy USA iTunes gift cards at this store, they are legit USA iTunes Gift card store, they deliver to me by email, and Fast, my advise to you - iTunesGiftSCards . C O M

  7. Patrick
    February 13, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    can ibook author be used on PC system?

    • Tina
      February 18, 2012 at 10:25 pm


      I'm afraid this is a Mac program. If you are looking for alternatives for the PC, I recommend asking a question at MakeUseOf Answers. Good luck!

  8. Leah G Cartoonist
    February 7, 2012 at 7:38 am

    There is nothing new about eBook software, this is just a different spin on it.

    • Arianna
      March 22, 2012 at 3:26 pm

      Unmentioned by a lot of reviews is the fact that it's very hard to read in decirt sun esp compared to stuff using e-ink. If you don't believe me, search for 13 glaring ipad shortcomings but only the article at technewsdaily, and scroll down and you'll see a photo of the ipad and the kindle in sunlight. Pretty damning picture if you ask me. Forget about going to the park or the beach.

  9. Macccm
    February 4, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Thanks, but no thanks. I use THE WEB. I got rid of paper some years ago, why should I try to immitate an old crappy format again?

    • Eric Tip Tap Tip
      February 6, 2012 at 5:24 pm

      You're the best!

    • Nik
      March 24, 2012 at 3:24 am

      What if . Give an ipod touch a 9 screen,throw in a upocle new apps and preload them to a device Oh yeah u get an ipad. Big whoop, other then that luscious 9 touchscreen its just a piece of shit glass and metal . No flash wich is 99% of all great web pages these days,NO CAMERAS such as the ipt 4G and iphone 4. Uugh

      • Joe Weeks
        June 4, 2012 at 6:04 am

        Actually, flash occupies less than 5% of web pages today as all new websites being created are using HTML5 and Adobe are withdrawing flash service.
        Get your facts right.
        And do you really believe you will be taking photos out and about on an iPad? And anyway it has a camera.

  10. WebGal Pat
    February 2, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    How do you delete the Proof book from the iPad?

    • Bakari Chavanu
      February 2, 2012 at 9:50 pm

      Tap the Edit button in iBooks, and then tap the Proof, and lastly tap Delete. 

  11. Chris Hoffman
    January 31, 2012 at 6:13 am

    Be very careful with this. The iBooks Author EULA is shockingly "greedy and evil." Apple controls the work you produce with iBooks Author.

    If you create a book in iBooks Author and want to sell it, you have to sell it through Apple's store. If they decide they don't want to sell it in their store, you have no option. Even if Apple says "sorry, we don't want to sell this", you can't sell it any other way. You can give the book you wrote away for free, but you can't sell it -- all because you used iBooks Author.

    Imagine the outcry if Microsoft exerted control over every Word document you wrote.


    • Justin Ketah
      February 1, 2012 at 1:43 am

      I pay for word, author is free. Your content is still yours no matter what. What apple is saying is that published content can only be sold on the iBook store. You can still take the content and sell it elsewhere, just not the author published version since it is a proprietary version.

      • Bakari Chavanu
        February 2, 2012 at 10:01 pm

        Okay, in the e-pub/ibooks, Apple controls it, but you can reformat your book for say Kindle and sell it on Amazon without a breach of contract with Apple?

    • Bakari Chavanu
      February 2, 2012 at 9:29 pm

      I need to read up on the policy. I'm thinking about producing a book using the program.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      February 2, 2012 at 10:02 pm

      Chris, thanks for this information. I've seen it a couple of times, it's definitely something publishing authors should know about. Appreciate it.