Monday, March 12, 2012

Book Creator for iPad: The Easiest E-book Publishing App You'll Find (and a Bonus Interview with Dan Amos)

Screenshot from Book Creator app for iPad
Screenshot from Book Creator's app store homepage
If you're a writer or illustrator with a picture book manuscript, there is no easier way to publish it as an ebook for the Apple bookstore than with Book Creator for iPad, by Red Jumper Studio. If you're a child, parent, or anyone who wants to create an electronic picture book that can be read and shared on an iPad, Book Creator is also for you. Book Creator for iPad is super intuitive and easy to use, and you get all of this for less than the cost of a snack and a drink (the current price is $4.99).

Here is a brief overview of the app and an interview with Dan Amos, the creator of Book Creator.



Creating an Ebook on Book Creator is Super Easy


Book Creator is so intuitive and easy to use that young children can make books with it easily. You create the ebook directly on the iPad. The basic steps to creating each page:
  1. Drag saved images to your workspace and resize them or move them as you like.
  2. Add text by typing into a text box and choosing the font size, type, and color. Although Book Creator is ideal for picture books with shorter text, you can copy and paste longer passages. 
  3. You can add audio if you wish.
Rinse and repeat for each page. At any point, you can see how the book will look by opening it in iBooks. I've been working on my picture book about rubber ducks that fall into the ocean, and this is what the first spread looks like in iBooks:

© 2011 Sylvia Liu

The resulting file is a fixed layout epub file, which means that the words will always be associated with the pictures in the exact way you have laid them out. This is perfect for picture books.   

Sharing and Publishing the iBook is Also Easy


Once you have finished with your story, you can email it to friends and family, or you can publish it at the iBookstore. I haven't gotten to this stage yet, but Apple provides a FAQ for Book Publishers for further information.

Children's author/illustrator Loreen Leedy has written a very informative post on using Book Creator to publish her 
book, Tracks in the Sand. Her main complaint is with the iBookstore's inadequate search function. Although Tracks in the Sand tells the life cycle story of sea turtles, a search for "sea turtles" doesn't bring up the book. Loreen says, "Evidently the iBookstore search function only picks up words in titles, which is not adequate. Can you imagine a library without a subject search index? It makes it impossible to find all the books on a given topic. Hopefully the iBookstore will fix this, and soon!"


Interview with Dan Amos


Dan Amos, the brain behind Book Creator, answered some questions:


Q. You've been hard to get ahold of, mainly because your app has been so wildly successful. How has it been doing the past few months?

It has been a brilliant time! Book Creator has topped the iPad book charts in 35 countries, and I've been really thrilled to see lots of e-book projects come to light with the help of the app.



Q. Tell me a bit about yourself.

I've been popping around the software industry wearing a few different hats. Most recently as a Product Manager for Nokia's digital music service where I finished in mid 2011 to develop Book Creator.



Q. What prompted you to make this app?

My wife Ally Kennen is a YA author published by Scholastic. Our work had always felt separate from each other, but the arrival of e-books suddenly fused us together. We travelled together to the London Book Fair and were blown away by the excitement of digital publishing. On the train journey home we started talking about how digital should make it easier and cheaper for great books to reach their audience. Add to that a house of 3 young children who love picture books and it was a small jump to Book Creator.



Q. Who is Book Creator's target audience? How has that affected the development of the app?

My aim is to make Book Creator attractive to as wide an audience as possible, and so far I'm getting great feedback from a wide spectrum of users. From K-2 teachers, right through to professional e-book creators and publishers who could write the necessary code but are finding Book Creator quicker and simpler. Having this wide spread of users means I take great care to introduce features that are going to be useful and usable for everyone, and I've been amazed at how much commonality there actually is. Going forward I do plan to add optional features for specific groups of users. For example, professional illustrators can look forward to enhanced typography and image tools.



Q. Do you need an iPad to use the app?

Yes, you do, and that's really the fun of it. Curled up on the sofa making your book just doesn't feel like work!



Q. I am impressed by how intuitive and easy it is to make an iBook that meets Apple's requirements. People have paid good money to professionally format their picture books and now anyone can do so for $4.99. What is your pricing strategy?

For professional illustrators and writers looking to publish digitally, $4.99 is a snap, and much cheaper than many of the other methods for getting your work into the iBookstore. That said, there is a trend and expectation towards lower and lower prices with apps. Book Creator is priced to be attractive to the casual user whilst ensuring that it will support its ongoing development.



Q. Are you working on improvements to Book Creator?

Absolutely. I've received great feedback from the community about the app and I have a long list of improvements that I'm working my way through. Right now version 2 has just come out which adds square and landscape page sizes, PDF export and printing, but still lots more to do!



Q. Where can people find the app or reach you?

Book Creator is available globally in the app store. You can also find out more about Book Creator including a quick video on how easy it is to use at www.redjumper.net/bookcreator. And please do reach out to me at www.facebook.com/bookcreator and on Twitter @redjumperdan.






Update (Oct. 2012) 
Since I published this review and interview, Book Creator has been updated with the following features:
  • Make any image play audio when tapped
  • Rotate text and images
  • Embed video in your books




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26 comments:

  1. I love Book Creator! I have created two books using it. I have submitted them to the ibookstore but have not heard back from them yet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd love to hear what your experience is with how long it takes the iBookstore to approve your books. And let me know when they're up for sale too.

      Delete
  2. Thanks for this review. As soon as I get through my "to do" list for the day, I'm downloading the app to see how it works.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love all the new resources there are for writers. I don't have an iPad, but I know it's just a matter of time. This looks like a great app to have.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nice article, thanks for including me and Tracks!

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a great post and interview with "RedJumper Dan", Sylvia! I hope Apple hires a seasoned school librarian to tackle the search index for iBookstore.

    Look forward to your picture book coming out on iBookstore soon!

    ReplyDelete
  6. We were early beta testers of the first version of Book Creator and used to help us build our iBook (which has been on the iBookstore since September 2011. Book Creator is a brilliantly put together app... definitely worth the $4.99 if you have any desire to create iBooks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, David. Have you tried iBooks Author?

      Delete
  7. What is the difference between an 'ebook' and an 'ibook'?
    Or am I not understanding this right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Virginia. An ebook is just the generic term for electronic book. Book Creator only lets you create an ebook that is publishable on Apple's iBookstore (which sells iBooks, or their cutesy word for ebooks found in the iBookstore). Hope that helps!

      Delete
  8. Well done to you for getting such a great interview. This sounds so exciting. I only wish I had an iPad. I must definitely put it on the Christmas wish list. The app sounds incredibly intuitive and easy to use which is great and with that price point they've got mass appeal! Wonderful questions Sylvia, I'm so glad Dan took the time to talk to you, this was really worthwhile. BTW, your picture book looks fantastic as an ibook, great job! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Helga. You can tell I'm a big iPad fan, and I still have the original one.

      Delete
  9. Hi Sylvia,
    Just read your guest post on Julie Hedlund's blog...thanks for those insights and tips on focusing on reaching our goals!
    This ibook interview was great! It sounds like something even non-techy people like myself could master. :)
    So now I guess I really will have to get an ipad. :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sylvia,
    Just a courtesy note to let you know I have pinned your Book Creator post to a pinterest board with a collection of learning resources to complement the “Book Creator” app. If you have other posts on your blog or website that you think may be suitable for this or any other boards I am compiling, please email me. You can view my Pinterest boards at http://pinterest.com/fingerpprojects
    You may like to check back from time-to-time as the boards grow.
    Warm regards
    Trudy

    ReplyDelete
  11. I am definitely enjoying your website. You definitely have some great insight and great stories.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Virginia. An ebook is just the generic term for electronic book. Book Creator only lets you create an ebook that is publishable on Jual Jam Tangan KwApple's iBookstore (which sells iBooks, or their cutesy word for ebooks found in the iBookstore). Hope that helps!

    ReplyDelete
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