January 22nd, 2012
Last week Apple announced a free download of its “book authoring” software for iBooks, “iBook Author” – the PR is at
iBook Author appears to be an updated, more graphical and better integrated version of the free app authoring software tools for developers Apple has offered for a couple of years now, but that haven’t yet been well suited for more general users. It requires OSX 10.6.8, to which many Mac computers older than 5 or 6 years can’t be upgraded (if you have a Core Duo instead of a Core 2 Duo, for instance, you’re out of luck). Reviews are early and tentative and not worth linking to here as yet. But according to one report, the iBook Author format is proprietary instead of aimed at supporting open authoring of “digital book” formats, so the usual complaints are already flowing.
Generally, if you want to take full advantage of proprietary features of a specific hardware/software platform, you’re likely to have a problem meeting “open” compatibility standards to some meaningful degree. So that complaint is hardly surprising.
But the pitch Apple is making is not to pre-empt open standards for “digital books” (yuck!) per se, and rather to prime educational multimedia publishing with better support for (of course) iPad-oriented educational multimedia (shades of Hypercard!), for educational markets. I’ll be upgrading to a new laptop soon (yes, my MacBook is that old!) and will be checking the software out soon. I’ll keep you posted.