Well, it is the first book to hit the market and clearly was prepared with pre-release software for the specific purpose of getting a book to the market. Ironic I suppose after writing that to realize that the book itself is about getting books to the market. Ba-dum dum. I will avoid the larger discussion of the issues surrounding the marketing of books through a single source distributor in this review and stick to the structure, intent and delivery of the book itself. The first chapter of Publishing with iBook Author by Nellie McKesson and Adam Witwer walks the reader through a look at the specific menu items and tools featured on screen. It is relatively comprehensive and not too concise to the point of simply repeating the tool or menu item name. The short descriptions do give a little more description than the help screen in iBooks Author itself.
The second section of the book examines the components of Author’d textbook attempting to capture some of the new terms and concepts that Apple has introduced into this beast. It explains the assumptions that Apple has made and clearly identifies many of the constraints that this places on your creative intent, but does suggest the possibilities that exist. It is copiously illustrated with photos and screenshots as is the larger volume itself. The process of thinking in Pages –> Text –> Objects –> Layouts –> Publishing is logical and this book moves through these sections with a suitable amount of detail.
One of the biggest challenges, and I am avoiding saying criticism, is that the freshness of this app and the store itself that restricts the amount of hands-on experience that can provide the hints and tips that potential authors need. This is a great introductory volume and will get some one in a position to start playing about. In fact nothing to prevent taking existing eBooks that might had been previously authored and using them as a base in iBook Author to turn them into the next germination all-singing, all-dancing textbook. The program itself has severe limitations on how much of an automated ingestion process can be undertaken, but this book spells these limitations out clearly.
Clearly the use of a tool such as iBooks Author moves beyond what we have become more familiar with in authoring standards complaint eBooks in the ePub or mobi terms of reference and because it is a end-to-end close loop, it does offer some rich control over visually engaging and lavishly illustrated interactive textbooks. This book will get the uninitiated (myself included) up and running quickly and efficiently. I suspect that we will eventually see some new volumes emerge in the near future that will expand and build on this foundation to look at best practices and start to provide the real-world experience. In the meantime this is a very solid and good choice to gain rapid familiarity with this intriguing new software.