Apple’s recently released iBooks Author is a promising tool for those in training and development. The fact that Apple has partnered with several major textbook publishers bodes well for its future. This software allows one to produce multimedia books for the iPad (but the iPad alone). These books can contain movie clips, interactive animations, diagrams, photos and simple quizzes. It is relatively easy to learn for those already familiar with Macs, and will seem especially familiar to those who have used iWeb software. While iBooks Author is free to download, you will need a relatively new Mac (at least an Intel core 2 Duo) that runs Leopard, the latest operating system. An upgrade to Leopard will cost $30. Some people online reported problems with upgrading. However, this author’s experience went smoothly, even with her five-year-old computer.
To preview your book you will need an iPad 2 or 3 that has iBooks2 installed. Once you have created your book and previewed it on your iPad you are ready to publish. You can choose to either sell your text, or offer it for free. Either way, you are only allowed to distribute it through the iTunes store. However, you retain rights to the content, and can repurpose it as you see fit. You have the option of creating a PDF file from your book. However, you will lose any interactivity, and “made with iBooks Author” will be displayed on the bottom of every page.
The fact that the book is only available for iPads and not other types of tablets is a significant limitation. However, this new medium and its ease of use creates new possibilities for training and education. Being in the iTunes store will give some publications a new life by exposing them to a different audience. iPad books are already being used by sales people in the field to reference and demonstrate products. In combining the best of different media, the interactive book could prove better in elucidating certain concepts than either a traditional book or movie alone. I am looking forward to seeing the new ways people will find to use this new technology in both training and education.