Watershed | iBooks Author is a gamechanger

I’m excited. Blown away actually. Yesterday I was out of the loop, wearing my musician’s cap and working on an independent movie soundtrack. I tend to lose track of time when I’m writing and recording music. I exist in a bubble, usually for the duration of the project.

So even though I was looking forward to it, I completely missed Apple’s education event at the Guggenheim. Straight up forgot about it. It wasn’t until late last night that I finally remembered and scanned the Mac news sites for info. And at lunch today I watched the event itself. Whoa.

Never mind the restrictions, the legalese and the closed whatever Apple is evil banter and ranting: iBooks Author is a watershed event. It’s something I’ve been hoping and wishing for ever since I touched an iPad.

Back in February 2010 I wrote a piece entitled HyperCard for iPad in which I basically lamented the lack of tools available for creating iPad specific content. Namely, the lack of tools from Apple itself who in my mind should’ve been at the forefront of this incredible new wave they were creating. Had they become more focused on consuming rather than creating content?

Since then we saw the deprecation of iWeb, DVD Studio Pro and iDVD, all tools aimed at creating some form or other of creative content. We saw iWork add a ridiculously basic ePub exporting function to Pages. Only good for boring and badly laid out text based books.

All this while producing the sleekest, most interactive device ever made. Frustrating? Yes, very.

But finally, with the unveiling of iBooks Author, Apple is emerging again as the great democratizer - if you’ll permit the term. Finally, we can create interactive content for the iPad without hiring an iOS programmer. It’s the return of wysiwyg and I’m ecstatic.

Jason Snell over at Macworld also seems to think this is something of a breakthrough.

Of course there are caveats: you need to publish through the iBookstore, which means you need an account and all the paperwork this entails (namely tax forms for us folks living outside the US). But man… Watching those amazing textbooks come alive onscreen, seeing how easy it was to put them together… It’s like a revelation.

A few months ago I had purchased Al Gore’s interactive book Our Choice, the first published using the Push Pop Press framework. It showed what the iPad could do with content, how it could bring it to life. When Push Pop Press was acquired by Facebook, effectively killing the promises it held for authors I was bummed. Even though it was never something that would’ve been available to end users, geared as it was towards publishers. I was bummed by the loss of potentially great content.

Well lo and behold: that promise is now in the hands of anyone with OS X Lion. Anyone. For free.

Am I pumped? Hell yeah.
Get your copy here and start creating.