Soundview Executive Book Summaries


Apple’s iBooks Author: Will It Work for Business?

Last week I wrote about the (then) upcoming Apple announcement and their foray into education. Well, now everyone has heard the details about Apple’s plans for textbooks and it’s really a mixed-bag.

On the plus side, Apple is offering a free software package for building interactive textbooks. The features that can be used with a book include templates by subject, drag and drop for images, video and slides, integration of widgets in Java or HTML5, and the auto-creation of a glossary of terms.

For users of the books the features are also quite impressive, including highlighting with the swipe of a finger, note taking which can be turned into study cards and communication with instructors for assignments and progress, plus of course the enjoyment of interactive media.

But there are negatives, and these began hitting the blog-waves within minutes after the presentation at the Guggenheim museum. First is the cost factor. These interactive books can only be viewed on an iPad, so every student will need one. And the books must be purchased through the iBook store. The second negative is the resulting control issue. The books are not in a pure ePub format so they can’t be used on other devices or platforms. And the agreement you sign when using their software states that the books can only be sold in the iBooks store, although they can be given away free in other venues.

So what does all of this mean for business authors and publishers? I think it still opens up a great new venue for selling business books.

Regarding the plus side above, these features open up a whole new avenue for education and training in the corporate world. To have books that are interactive, with audio, video, slides and other tools integrated into the e-books, will be great for engaging employees at all levels. And the potential for interaction with trainers or managers around the content is equally beneficial.

As far as the negative issues go, these are less limiting in business than in education. Companies can afford to buy the devices needed to distribute training materials, and can purchase through the iBooks store if necessary, although I expect that some bulk discounting will be available. I would however suggest having a lawyer look at the iBooks Author agreement.

Business authors and publishers should be on the front edge of this new development because there is the potential to sell a lot more books and to get new business concepts into the hands of many more people in a dynamic new format. Let me know if you hear of any business authors taking advantage of the iBooks Author software.

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