Why Knowledge Professionals Should Try iBooks Author Now

Independent Knowledge Professionals benefit greatly from writing eBooks. Writing a book puts you on the map as an expert in one stroke. Since you are a knowledge professional, you can also augment your income by selling knowledge products, especially eBooks. A small eBook purchase can be the starting point for a future full-service client. You’ll be writing non-fiction books, the kind that benefit most from graphics, charts and other engaging elements that old-style eBooks don’t provide.

I Thought iBooks Author Was for Textbooks. Not really. Actually, Apple says it is for lots of other kinds of books too. They are just leading with text books right now. Think reports, of the jaw-dropping variety. If you give one of these eBook reports away, you don’t even have to talk to Apple or give them a percentage.  You can post a link to your website or send it in an email.

Ebook Prep Sucks — Until Now. We’ve been stuck with arcane and limited tools to create eBooks. This patchwork quilt of marginal tools has been perfect for eBook prep specialists, but a nightmare for independent knowledge professionals who can’t spend all their spare time fiddling with unwieldy tech. Writing is hard and time-consuming as it is.

Apple’s new iBooks Author solves these problems. It is easy to use and lets you add tables, graphics and widgets to your eBooks. There is a catch in that the eBooks made by iBooks Author require an iPad for display. I’ll explain why that limitation isn’t something that should stop you.

System Requirements for iBooks Author. First the bad news, you need an iPad to display your eBook while it is in progress and you need a Macintosh running OSX Lion. If you already have an iPad and are running Lion, you are set. Otherwise, read on to see if it would be worth your while to upgrade and/or expand your technology now.

Compelling Reasons to Adopt iBooks Author Now. It’s the only end-user eBook creation tool. There are no other options if you want your eBook to look the least bit good short of spending a lot of money for it to be created in InDesign and even then it won’t look that good in the Kindle Format. There’s a new Kindle Format that is supposed to be good for media-rich eBooks, but there’s no creation tool for it yet. Cross that off your list.

Apple has leapt into the void here. If you are writing novels or non-fiction that doesn’t require illustration, you could scrape by using current tools if you could figure or hire them out. But knowledge professionals need to illustrate ideas with visuals. You can open up iBooks Author and start inserting graphics and more in a few minutes. The output on an iPad will be delightful.

Kindlestore vs. iBookstore. Right now Kindle books are the only game in town you say or may have heard. That’s true up to a point but that point of change is now. Even Amazon has started to abandon the lame eBook format (Mobi) they’ve been using and replaced it with what they are calling Kindle 8 which allows for decent graphics and interactivity (see above). Amazon released the Kindle Fire and broke all their own rules about how e-Ink is the best way to read books.

A lot of people compare the Kindle Fire to the Kindle Touch and like the Fire better for books because of the vivid color and responsiveness. I don’t think things will end well for e-Ink devices. They are niche devices in a world that is filling rapidly with full-featured iPhones, Android and Windows phones and iPads.

Ebooks Won’t Stop at Imitating Paper Books. Paper books are wonderful, but as we move to digital, other possibilities emerge that cannot be ignored. For example, iBooks Author lets you add glossary words in your eBooks. You get the most gorgeous glossary (with search) at the back of the book without any additional effort. And, automatically, the reader gets electronic flash cards that allow them to review and test their recall and comprehension. The eBooks you create for the iPad are truly eBooks. They are apps as well as books without you being a programmer — at all!

But, Shouldn’t You Wait and See? Maybe Apple will fall on its face this time. Don’t bet on it. The cost of waiting is that others will be there before you. Early adopters on this Apple juggernaut will be learning things as the technology rolls out. They will be looking tech savvy with eye-popping eBooks they’ve created themselves — running on the most desirable gadgets of our times.

Some technology is a pain and not worth adopting early. But, iBooks Author is made by Apple and is simple and easy. It is designed to be something anyone can pick up and use. I like blogging software like WordPress and recommend it to independent knowledge professionals, but iBooks Author is much more powerful yet as easy as using Pages or Keynote (Word or Powerpoint).

Resources. There is already a $4.99 eBook available that teaches you how to use iBooks Author. The title is iBooks Author: Publishing Your First eBook. The author is Maria Langer, an established tech writer who has written over 50 books. The moment iBooks Author was announced, Maria spent day and night and wrote, edited and prepared the book over a ten day period.

Even if you don’t have an iPad yet, you can check out Maria’s book or eBook and the materials and videos at Apple.com. This first version of Maria’s book is created with traditional tools to get the book in your hands as quickly as possible. She is working on a fancy iBooks 2 version but I recommend getting in on the ground floor now. Don’t wait for the fancy book. I plan to buy the iBooks 2 version for my iPad when it is available, but this chance to get a jumpstart on a new kind of eBook is too good to pass up.

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6 thoughts on “Why Knowledge Professionals Should Try iBooks Author Now”

  1. Epub and mobi are open, iBooks is part of the Apple “walled garden.” Mostly I’m happy living in the walled garden. It keeps out the weeds and riffraff.
    The tradeoff hits me when it comes to ebooks. I’m writing ebooks and putting them onto Amazon for Kindle. But I call Kindle the “pulp fiction” format. Since it has to work on every device, it’s basically limited to just plain text, like a cheap paperback. After having the values of desktop publishing pounded into me for 20 years, now I have to regress to the era of dot matrix!

    Along comes iBook 2. Looks beautiful! All kinds of style and embed options. My ebooks can become interactive apps! But these ebooks display only on an iPad, and can be sold only in the iStore. The iStore is the problem, since it’s a tiny poorly-furnished closet compared to the teeming cityscape of Amazon. So for marketing my ebooks, I’ve got to be on Amazon.

    So I’ll have to go both ways with my ebooks, the very thing app creators hate.

    However, my guru Janet Tokerud says that the world will be moving toward Apple on this issue. e-ink is past its peak. Bright, colorful iPad-type screens are becoming ubiquitous. Gazillions of iPads going into schools and corporations, preloaded with textbooks, manuals, and reports published in iBook2. If there’s a standard, it will be an Apple-friendly standard. If not, or if iStore doesn’t come out of the closet, then the Kindle Kazoom (2014 or so) will be close enough to iBooks that I will be happy publishing there.

  2. Hey, Mike, thanks for your detailed comments. I am not a fan of walled gardens per se myself. But, I don’t think Apple is striving for walls. They want to conceive and bring into existence ambitious, ground-breaking standards that others will want to step into. That’s how I see what they’ve done with Macintosh, iPhone and iPad, not to mention earlier efforts like Firewire and wi-fi. I don’t think iPad will be the only device that can use iBooks Author. It’s just the first device. Second will be iPhone. However, I’m not sure it would be too hard to create an import tool that would bring in an iBooks Author document and convert much of it into useable HTML for Kindle or ePub. Apple hits for the fences, so don’t underestimate them.

    You say iPad is not the problem and I’m with you there. The iPad is just getting started and is growing at a stratospheric rate. This is one of those consumerization things where first you have consumers going gaga and then you have those same consumers putting on work clothes and purchasing iPads for corporations, governments and schools.

    You say the iBookstore is the problem. That’s how it looks right now I must admit. You have several books already written and have scraped and scrapped together eBooks by hook or by crook to get them on Kindle. You should be commended! You rock. But chapter 2 is about to begin.

    I predict that others like Google (Google Books), Amazon (Kindle Books) and for sure Barnes & Noble with its cool Nook Color and Tablet (ePub Books) will hustle up better creation tools to compete with iBooks Author. That will benefit us all. Once the time for a tool has passed though, I want to move on to the better tool that will take its place. It’s called investing your limited time wisely. It’s avoiding obsolescence. Something I do every day as a software developer and technology advisor.

  3. If you write ebooks, you must consider what your likely readers use. As a certified inknop (independent knowledge professional), I’m confident that my target audience–owners of small growing businesses–won’t be reading my ebooks on a Kindle. They may curl up in bed with a Kindle novel, but for reading professional stuff, they use their iPad. They have a Kindle app, but hopefully they’ll also go willingly into the iBookstore . I’ll have ebooks on both Amazon and iBookstore.

  4. I am so excited about getting my systems upgraded so that I can start playing with iBooks Author. Thank you for your ongoing insightful and experienced teaching and support. Will keep you posted on my progress.

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