Apple Does iBooks … But Good!

January 19th, 2012

Today’s not unexpected announcement from Apple was about education, ebooks, making ebooks, and making iPad the platform of choice for ebooks. Great good news! I’ve been hoping for all this for some time.

When I was a student it would have been a real blessing to have all my textbooks on an iPad. For one thing, the practical advantage, I would not have had to lug around thirty pounds of books each day. Perhaps more important to me as a student, the multimedia capabilities of the iPad gives access to a wealth of additional material—photos, audio, and video. Linking to newsreel footage when studying current events would have made things a lot more interesting, for instance, as would seeing illustrations of things I was studying in, say, physics class.

And although I have not yet investigated the free authoring tool they also announced today, iBooks author, I am confident that it will prove to be the tool for making ebooks that I have been waiting for. As a book designer, my biggest complaint has been that (human) readers can change the look of  their ebooks on ereader (devices). It appears to me that an ebook created via iBooks Author will be something like an app and permanent in its presentation.

Now along with all this good stuff Apple has set off some alarms for me—again, as I am a professional book designer and page composition artist. The same way they set the price of songs on iTunes, they are unilaterally setting the price of the ebooks they will sell. None will cost more than $14.99. I admit that would have pleased me as a college student. But as someone who earns a good part of his living making books, I wonder about them setting the market this way. Will it sustain professional ebook-makers or make the process one that can only be done in an assembly line fashion at sweatshop rates?

Time will tell.

Meanwhile it seems that Apple has come up with a new reason for everyone who is a student or has one at home to buy an iPad if they do not already own one. And because iBooks Author requires Apple’s latest OS, Lion, to run, as my son-in-law tweeted today: “[I]n Macintosh-related news, @StephenTiano gets his reason to update to Lion… #ibooksauthor”. Additionally, it is time for me to replace the first-generation iPad I gave to one of my granddaughters, because I grew bored that it was only good for consuming content, rather than creating. It seems an iPad is necessary for testing and debugging ebooks created in iBooks Author.

Steve Jobs would be proud. Hell, he must have helped prepare for today’s announcement before his untimely death this past October.

Entry Filed under: Apple,book design,e-books

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