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Appy Monday! Groundbreaking or Gimmick? iBooks Author App

It was with some fanfare last week that Apple launched its iBooks Author App in New York. Is it groundbreaking or a gimmick? It has certainly launched some headlines so North London Mums set out to investigate...

The iBooks Author App (free- and within the Mac App store) was launched last week at an educational event in New York, however the app is intended to be relevant in multi-genres - be it textbooks, cookbooks, history books, picture books for iPad. "All you need is an idea and a Mac".

The App provides you with a number of templates and design lay outs. You can add your own text and images, as well as including photo galleries, movies, presentations etc.  It is impressively easy, very similar to working on a powerpoint or keynote presentation. Choose a template and you are away! The app has drag and drop functionality, and you can just drop in a work document and it will automatically format and put in chapters. What could be easier?

The iBookstore features a number of books in the new format and they really are visually stunning.  Making the most of the features of the iPad, you can zoom or interact with images, watch videos and experience 3D- in some ways like something you would see in Harry Potter! It really transforms the experience of a 'book" (as apps like Flipboard have already been doing for magazines).

You can preview your book in iBooks on an iPad to see how it looks and works, and finish it off with a cover, video introduction, copyright page, dedication, and foreword. Then submit your finished work to the iBookstore (although you will need to procure an ISDN number). And before you know it, you’re a published author.

The sanity check? Well it looks like Apple will vet content before publication and also, crucially, iBooks can only be published through the iBookstore with the standard 30% being paid away to Apple under a separate agreement. 

Has the launch of the App (and the iBookstore 2)  sounded the alarm bells through the book publishing industry? In reality probably too early to tell. The benefit of being published through a publishing house must be the distribution and marketing, but you could see how this could give the traditional set up a run for its money, particularly if iPad continues its forecast takeup and/or a cheaper student friendly version should appear. It is particularly well- suited in some genres such as text books where the format lends itself well to engaging audiences and could be transformative to the way students learn. 

Whether or not the new iBook App and updated iBookstore disrupts existing publishing models, it certainly disrupts conventional view of books, and  it will be interesting to see what happens beyond text books across genres such as cook books or even novels?  What do you think of the new iBooks Author App? Groundbreaking or gimmick- we'd love to hear from you.

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