Making A Book For The iPad Using iBooks Author Images

Aug 8, 2012 by

Making a book for the iPad with iBooks Author images adds to the wonder of these exciting, interactive books.

We’ve been talking internally the past few days about how cool it would be to make a complete iBook just using iPad technology. Aside from the fact that one can’t actually build an iBook on the iPad, it has to be done on a Mac using iBooks Author, it’s kind of a hybrid possibility at best, but the idea of recording video, taking photos and then doing editing of them for the iBook, does sound tempting to one who might be a purist.

Today’s focus is on the tools it takes to make the photo images that can go into iBooks Author.

For starters, taking photographs for an iBook takes a whole new way of looking at a composition. It’s not enough to just do a close up shot and be done. It’s not enough to just do an establishment shot and be done. When you’re taking photos that are going to go into an iBook, you also have to consider multiple angles as well as the traditional aspects of lighting, shutter speeds and depth of field. But if you’re going to do any 3-D imagery, then you must have 360-360 versions of an object. And you can’t just be shooting in low-res .jpegs. You’re going to want to be shooting in RAW format for stills.

You see a .jpeg compresses the data in a photo file, throwing out a lot of pixels so that it can make up a smaller-sized file and still give a viewer a good idea of what the original subject was.  Yes, eventually, iBooks Author does something like this to the images that are stored within it, but for starters, you want to have the best possible you can to begin working.

We have found some of the best settings for a photo for an iBook need to be at least twice the size of the 1024 x 768 screen, making them 2048 x 1536 and a resolution of at least 144 pixels per square inch.  There seems to be a wide array of suggestions across the Net about this, but these are the settings we’ve used and have had good success. And we never save a photo to load into iBooks Author as anything but a .png.

Like I said, iBooks Author will convert the image to a .jpeg on export, but again, you want to start with the best possible from the get go.

So what are the photo editing tools we recommend and use?

The Essential Photo Tool Box

As mentioned above, it is possible using iMovie, iPhoto and some apps like PhotoEditor+ to get a lot of assets developed for an iBook on the iPad, but ultimately, one is going to have to connect to a Mac in the end to do layout iniBooks Author, so having some other, more powerful and traditional software at hand makes sense.
But there is another level of software out there after finishing our first major book and having many others in the queue, that make sense to have on your machine if you’re going to produce the quality that is desired.

We’re not saying you have to buy these apps/programs, but if you want to make a process that’s already complicated and technologically sophisticated enough on its face and make things easier on you, this is a good recommended arsenal of tools to have handy.

Adobe Creative Cloud

As we’ve noted before, the release of the CS6 Adobe Creative Cloud product in May was another break thru event. For many, shelling out $2,000 for the entire suite has long been cost-prohibitive. Even the price point for Photoshop of nearly $700 has been a huge hurdle to many in the past. But now, for a monthly rate–(if you already own an Adobe product, they’ll likely charge you $32.51 per month for a year)—Adobe has created the Creative Cloud and it has been a godsend.

•    PhotoshopIf you have access to Photoshop, use it. Even Photoshop Elements, a very limited version will help, but with the new, lowe price of Adobe Creative Cloud, it makes every bit of sense to go the full way if you can afford it.  We have found it’s far easier to use photos that are formatted in Photoshop than anything else. For all our projects we load .png files into iBooks Author and they all have a minimum resolution of 264 pixels.  Most of our full screen images are 2048 x 1536 pixels. There are multiple settings to use for the best results, which is another post all together.

•    PhotoEditor+ on the iPad is a good tool for initially starting a photo work.  But again, you’re probably going to want to use a desktop app to do the heavy lifting and particularly the .png output and resolution settings.

•    Lightroom is a photo ingesting and editing program in the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite. It now comes along with the many other programs available in the suite at no additional charge.  Buying it along is costly. We’ve not used it internally because for almost five year now, we’ve been using Aperture from Apple.

•    Aperture has undergone some important changes in its history with Apple. There was a while when it hit a few speed bumps, but even with the release of Lion recently, Apple has continued to upgrade and support this product.  From Aperture,  before a photo is even exported to something like Photoshop, a photographer has the opportunity to make adjustments to a photo.  These include some of the same tools that later will appear in PS, but if you fix them in their native product, they’re there for good. Aperture also offers ways to hide metadata in your photos such as copyright information, your contact info, etc. It’s a good product and there are a good many professional photographers out there who swear by it—just like you will find many who swear by Lightroom.  We’re not going to pick one over the other.  They’re both excellent tools and if you’re going to be doing iBooks on any kind of a regular basis, we recommend these products to help you along the way.

Tomorrow’s topic: Widgets.

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