Apple Unveils iBooks 2 and iBooks Author, New E-Book Creation Software

By Jeremy Greenfield, Editorial Director, Digital Book World, @JDGsaid

Apple unveiled iBooks 2, the next iteration of its iBooks software. It also launched iBooks Author, a new e-book and enhanced e-book creation tool. Both are available in the Apple App Store for free today, the company said at an announcement this morning at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

The new software will revolutionize both the textbook industry and e-book creation. There is a new section in the iBooks store for textbooks and the Author app is geared toward textbook creation with built-in templates for math and science books, but it can be used for the creation of any book.

Related: Apple iBooks Author Tool Sets Stage for Showdown With Amazon

For more advanced content creators who are fluent in JavaScript and HTML, iBooks Authors allows for the creation of custom widgets in e-books. (Apple has not yet responded to requests for comment on what kinds of files iBooks Author creates, whether EPUB 3 or some other format.)

The iBooks Author software “opens the door to self-published illustrated [e-books],” according to Publisher’s Lunch. In early trading, Apple shares were up $0.36 to $429.47.

In a stunning display of e-book creation acrobatics, Apple executives dragged images and video into an e-book page and text wrapped seamlessly around it. The company also demonstrated completed textbooks, showing off interactive features, including: Images that come alive with explanations when tapped; fluid layouts that shift smoothly from portrait to landscape view; and index and glossary functions that are integrated directly into each page.

Textbooks will be available for $14.99 or less in the iBooks store and several publishers, including Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt have already produced several of these new, interactive textbooks, which are available for sale today.

All notes and highlighted text in the new e-textbooks are instantly turned into flashcards for later study and students who buy the textbooks own them forever and can re-download them any time from the cloud.

After weeks of speculation, Apple finally revealed its secret textbook project, reportedly codenamed “Bliss.”

Early in the presentation, Apple executives decried print textbooks as lacking portability, search-ability and interactivity, problems that e-textbooks on an iPad would solve.

Apple also released the next iteration of its iTunes U app, which now will allow professors to create syllabi, post messages to students and run many professorial functions remotely. Students will be able to review all course materials, including text and video, and listen to lectures. The iBooks software will be fully integrated with iTunes U. Six universities, including Duke and Yale, are already using the software.

From an Apple statement on iTunes U:

The all-new iTunes U app lets teachers create and manage courses including essential components such as lectures, assignments, books, quizzes and syllabuses and offer them to millions of iOS users around the world. The iTunes U app gives iOS users access to the world’s largest catalog of free educational content from top universities including Cambridge, Duke, Harvard, Oxford and Stanford, and starting today any K-12 school district can offer full courses through the iTunes U app. iTunes U has already become an incredibly popular learning tool for students with over 700 million downloads.

From an Apple statement on iBooks 2 and iBooks Author:

iBooks textbooks offer iPad users gorgeous, fullscreen textbooks with interactive animations, diagrams, photos, videos, unrivaled navigation and much more. iBooks textbooks can be kept up to date, don’t weigh down a backpack and never have to be returned. Leading education services companies including Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw-Hill and Pearson will deliver educational titles on the iBookstore℠ with most priced at $14.99 or less, and with the new iBooks Author, a free authoring tool available today, anyone with a Mac® can create stunning iBooks textbooks.

Sign up for today’s webcast to hear about the best practices for enhanced e-books and more about today’s big announcement from Apple.

Write to Jeremy Greenfield

Related: Apple iBooks Author Tool Sets Stage for Showdown With Amazon

Don’t miss out on the buzz about the new Apple iBooks store and Author tools at the Digital Book World Conference + Expo in New York City from January 23 to 25.


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