So I have officially closed my experiment with iBooksAuthor. It’s not over yet, technically, because I haven’t actually created a book for the iPad (I’m so close…; more on that below), but I have a bang-up .pdf (if bang-up means sterile, inert, and lacking any multi-media beyond images, which I didn’t need iBooksAuthor to create). Can you tell I’m frustrated?

I took a good number of hours to create an iBook: collecting and changing the format of various media, from articles to videos to audio; formatting everything to look book-like (that’s the point, yes?); trying different aspects of iBooksAuthor (widgets, media, etc.). Done. Finally. Now time to put it on my iPad via the Preview function (as I wrote before, I’m not going to publish because of copyright issues, but I can have my own copy on the iPad via the Preview option). I push Preview. The progress bar appears. Half way through? ‘Can’t Preview’. No explanation. No information or advice. Just ‘Can’t Preview’. Ok. I’ll try a workaround. Export to the .ibooks file. Click export and… ‘An unknown error occurred.’ Well, that’s helpful. I get no advice from iBooksAuthor about what I need to fix. I checked support fora: yes, my iPad is plugged in and seen; yes, I have iBooks2, and it’s open (iBooksAuthor did tell me to do that). I tried different computers, different cords, restarting. Nothing. Same, empty, useless messages. So thanks, iBooksAuthor, for giving me a bloated, infefficient, unintuitive tool for making…a .pdf. I look forward to not having audio or video in my book.

More generally speaking, as I think I said before, iBooksAuthor is a great tool for publishers and companies with creative and design teams who can vett content, who can clear content in terms of copyright, and who can create legal materials for publication. But for the individual (like me), I’m not sure how I could create anything much beyond text without getting everything cleared (and paying for it) before publishing, and this makes iBooksAuthor much more trouble than its worth. (I recently checked out, which wasn’t exactly what I was looking for but is an interesting concept: you bring them the content (or use their already existing content), they compile both your content and the costs of using it, and create a book for you with your content; essentially, a course pack maker).