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Apple has tossed its hat into the digital publishing ring with the iBooks author. Taking cues from the word processing tool Pages, Apple is making it very easy to create beautiful eBook applications. The target audience seems to be authors with little or no experience with the Page Layout or interactive content creation, but anyone with a Macintosh computer can take advantage of this amazing application. With its template-based workflow, creating documents is as simple as dragging and dropping text and media into a layout.
You can quickly add elements such as text frames, shapes, various tables and charts, even add interactive elements that Apple calls widgets. The widgets include things like photo galleries, media such as audio and video, reviews, keynote presentations, interactive images, 3D elements, and embedded HTML content. iBooks author is currently a Mac only application, so you'll have to own a Mac in order to use it.
Publishing options are restricted to the proprietary iBook format, PDF or, text document. With the PDF and text options you may lose many of the interactive features. There is also no preview option for the Mac desktop, which can slow down the development process. The only preview option is only iPad, which has to be connected to the Mac with a data cable, no wireless syncing. Your content can only be published to the iBook store. While this is a large marketplace, not everyone has an iPad so they may not be shopping at this location.
You can export to an iBook format and distribute the book yourself, but only as a free product. If you intend to charge a fee for your iBook then you must publish it through Apple.
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