Apple’s iBooks Author Tool for Creating Interactive Ebooks

Apple’s has launched a new ebook creation tool, iBooks Author. It is a Mac-only software application for creating media-rich, interactive books for the iPad. This new app was launched by Apple’s Phil Schiller at a special event in New York’s Guggenheim Museum on Thursday 19th January. Apple also announced the release of iBooks 2, an update to their iBooks reading application.

At the launch Apple positioned iBooks Author as an ideal solution for textbooks that will not only contain rich, interactive content but can easily be updated. Schiller said “Education is deep in Apple’s DNA and iPad may be our most exciting education product yet. With 1.5 million iPads already in use in education institutions, including over 1,000 one-to-one deployments, iPad is rapidly being adopted by schools across the US and around the world.

iBooks Author

With iBooks Author, authors can easily add interactive animations, diagrams, photos, audio and video to their ebooks. It is an easy app to use and involves dragging and dropping your content into some “preprepared” templates.

As you develop your ebook you can preview the results either within the software and on your iPad if it is connected.

The key here is interactive, media-rich content. This is an excellent tool for creating textbooks and other educational ebooks, children’s books, and even photography books.

The ebooks created with iBooks Author are created in .ibooks format which is a new format Apple have come up with based upon ePub3, but with some proprietary alterations or extensions.  This iBook format can only be read currently with Apple’s iOS devices. They cannot be read on PC or other ebook readers such as the Kindle and Nook.

When you have your completed .ibooks file you can choose to:

  • Distribute it from your own web site for free, or
  • Publish it via iBooks. You will need to set up a free account at iTunes Connect and then decide whether you will be giving away your ebooks for free or selling them. You cannot change your mind later and upgrade the basic account to a “selling” account. You will also need to associate your iTunes Connect account with an existing iTunes account.

If you decide to sell your ebooks created with iBooks Author in the iBookstore you will be eligible for 70% author royalties on your ebook sales. To set up an account for selling ebooks you will need a US Tax ID and you will need to provide an ISBN number for each book.

Apple’s software agreement restricts paid distribution of “works” created with iBooks Author to the iBookstore only. That means while you can distribute free ebooks created with the software elsewhere you cannot sell ebooks created by iBooks Author anywhere else.

Visit Apple’s page about iBook Author

There are a number of questions being raised by authors and developers following Apple’s announcement. Why has Apple imposed the restrictive license conditions? Why can you not export from iBooks Author to ePub format?

Please feel free to leave your comments below. I plan to post more on some of the issues surrounding Apple’s new software and agreement.

About the Author: Gary McLaren

Gary McLaren is the author of 'The Indie Author's Guide to Publishing Ebooks'. He also manages several web sites for professional writers including Publish Your Own Ebooks and Worldwide Freelance.


  1. Apply for TAX ID for non resident in USA is very hard or impossible and you need this for open Ibook Store account. The other way is Apple Associated Publishers but your value is 20 % .

    In summary:
    You book price
    – 30 % Apple
    – 20 % Associated Publisher
    – 30 % tax
    = 20 % for author of book

    Obtener un TAX ID para no residentes en USA es casi imposible y se necesita esto para obtener una cuenta en Ibook Store. La alternativa es enviar tu libro a una empresa asociada con apple pero ellos cobran en promedio un 20 % extra de comisión.

    En resumen:
    Precio de tu libro
    – 30 % Apple
    – 20 % Empresa asociada
    – 30 % timpuestos por la venta
    = 20 % para el autor del libro

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