I spent about 7 hours today working on a ‘book’ (I use quotes because I don’t intend to publish it (more on that below) and it is really a multi-media compilation of an existing course unit), from the background reading I described in the last post, to augmenting my content, to including it and formatting it. The good news is that I think I’m (finally) getting the hang of this, both conceptually and logistically. The bad news is, well, after 7 hours I’m maybe half way done (and this is for a three to five day unit).

For me, content perhaps took the most time. I had some content but mostly in the form of .pdfs. Not only did I want to bring in some (short) videos but I also wanted to dress up the appearance of the book. Finding all of this took a while; in fact, it took about 3/4s of the time I spent. With everything found, however, things started to move relatively quickly.

Some technical issues to bring up. iBooksAuthor will accept only 1 video format: .m4v. This requires some doing on your part. The good news is that the new, much more highly functional QuickTime, lets you create these videos. So, for instance, to pull a video from YouTube into iBooksAuthor is possible, though multi-stepped:

  1. find video on YouTube and copy URL
  2. paste into KeepVid (http://www.keepvid.com; if you’ve never used it before, you’ll have to enable a JavaScript, which will entail some clicks and restarting your browser)
  3. click on the .mp4 download option
  4. open the .mp4 with QuickTime
  5. trim if you want (remember, the bigger the video the bigger the book (size-wise), so only include video that is essential)
  6. export to .m4v
  7. drag into iBooksAuthor

I also struggled with changing the background color of my cover. I asked Jim, my colleague, and he said he used an image (in his case a pattern); I used a piece of art.

Jim struggled a bit with the Table of Contents but I think I’ve figured that out. I think we were both assuming based on what we had read that Author automatically pulls chapter and section titles from the title pages themselves, so he (then) and I (later) weren’t sure why our Table of Contents weren’t auto-populating. Turns out you have to add the name of the chapter or section in the page browser at left and this will then transfer into the Table of Contents. (Though Author seems to try to mimic your title page in the table of contents, which often isn’t great because text is placed specifically on the title page to contrast with a part of that image; in the TOC, text is all over the image and so becomes more difficult to see / read.)

Speaking of the page browser, both Jim and I agreed that a PowerPoint-style drag and drop function to move pages would be nice. It seems, from what I read online, that page locations cannot be changed, though through cut and paste can be transferred that way. I also found out that when you add pages, they are added immediately after whatever page is highlighted / you’re working on (I was initially under the impression that they were always added to the end).

I’m going to save our biggest difficult for a separate post, but I’m on my way and enjoying iBooksAuthor (though I’m not quite sure I can envision taking this much time for each unit…).