iBooks News And Announcements — From Apple

Feb 6, 2014 by

Important information from Apple if you do any publishing on the iBookstore.

We recently added the following new features and updates to iBooks, iTunes Producer, and iTunes Connect:iBooks News and Announcements

  • Textbooks Available in All Territories
  • Interest Age for Children and Teens
  • iTunes Producer 3.0
  • Sizing Images in EPUB
  • Enabling Ticket Notifications

 

Textbooks Available in All Territories
Textbooks are now available in all 51 iBooks Store territories. To offer your textbooks in these new territories, sign the new agreement in Contracts, Tax, and Banking on iTunes Connect.

Interest Age for Children and Teens
Starting in June 2014, interest-age information will be required for all book deliveries in the following categories: Juvenile Fiction (BISAC), Children’s, Young Adult, and Educational (BIC), and Jeunesse (CLIL).

iTunes Producer 3.0
iTunes Producer has been updated to include new features, such as:

  • Redesigned User Interface
  • Streamlined Workflow
  • Built-In Help Center

Download iTunes Producer 3.0 from Deliver Your Content in iTunes Connect.

Sizing Images in EPUB
Recent updates to WebKit may affect the layout of your book if you used percentages to define element heights. For example, .image-container { height: 80%; } will no longer result in an image that is 80 percent of the page height. This WebKit update aligns with the W3C’s specification for the height property.

To define a dynamic height for an element like an image, use the “viewport height unit” instead. A “viewport height unit” is equal to one percent of the height of the initial containing block and is a dynamic sizing element.

For example, to assign a dynamic height to an image, use:

HTML:
<div class=“image-container”>
<img src=“images/bears.jpg” alt=“three bears peer at goldilocks”/>
</div>

CSS:
.image-container { height: 80vh; }
img { height: 100%; }

Enabling Ticket Notifications
In addition to using Ticket History or Ticket Catalog Reports on iTunes Connect, you can choose to be sent email notifications as soon as a ticket is issued against your book. To enable these notifications:

  1. Go to Manage Users on iTunes Connect.
  2. Click Edit Profile.
  3. In the Notifications tab, select Worldwide in the Content column.
  4. Click Save.
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In Fiction Books, How Do You Know If You Can Trust Your Narrator?

Jan 22, 2014 by

In Fiction Books, How Do You Know If You Can Trust Your Narrator?The Fiction Writer's Handbook

I picked up Shelly Lowenkopf‘s eBook, The Fiction Writer’s Handbook yesterday off BookBub for $.99 and have been glancing through it as it’s designed to be used. It’s not a straight read. But in the “Revision” section a question jumped out at me I have never pondered before and I don’t recall an episode in fiction where it’s been used against those reading the book but the stark question or concept is this:  In a work of fiction, how do you know if you can trust the voice who is narrating the work? 

I’ve done my share of writing over the years, and I consider myself moderately well-read. I don’t read enough, at least in fiction, because mostly my work focuses on non-fiction, educational content, growing businesses, technical writing, etc.  But I do enjoy a good story and stories are at the central point of what I feel is my purpose in life.

So I come to you now with this simple question. When you’re reading a work of fiction, how do you know that the voice/person telling the story actually has it all together?  Do you have it all together?  I don’t.

So if I began telling you a story, what do I have to do to establish to you that I know what I’m talking about?  Even in a work of non-fiction, I assume this still would hold. Yes, I could roll out a litany of my past accomplishments and tell briefly my life story, but what if the author decided to jade them a little, unbeknownst to the narrator?  What if the character, in what wasn’t said in the narration, purposely left off some of the details or skewed them?

Is that a compelling enough of a hook to keep the work going? But if the narrator isn’t able to say “hey, I’m messing with your head here and skewing some of this, so don’t believe everything I tell you,” then where are you as a reader? If you keep reading and then find out later, would that make you angry with the author or is that one of the special dynamics of the work that would make a better story and better experience for you?

It is an interesting literary situation.

So what do you say?

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A Word About RAM MacBook Pro

Nov 5, 2013 by

A Word About RAM MacBook Pro

I have one of the last 17-inch MacBook Pros, with 2.4 GHz, Intel Core i7.  It came with 4 GBs of RAM, and for what we do making books for iPad and the videos that go into them with Adobe After Effects, Audition and Premier Pro CC, RAM is in demand.

A few months ago, I ordered an 8 GB ram card from Crucial to soup up the MBP. Installing the card was sort of easy, just undo the 10 screws on the bottom, pop out the old 2 GB cards and then pop in the Crucial card and onward. Except I actually had trouble seating the Crucial card and wound up getting a Genius at Henderson & Knox to seat it right.

Then, this summer, in discussions with Jamaal Jackson at Reel3Media.com, he said I could up the MBP up to 16 GBs. I questioned that announcement, but he said, “Google it!”  I did, and yes, you can pump a MBP up to 16 GBs of RAM. Crucial RAM Sticks 8 GBs

So a few weeks ago, not wanting to wait for Crucial to make a delivery and headed out of town, I stopped in at Fry’s in Dallas and bought a new 8 GB stick, but this one was made by Corsair.  After seating it myself again, the MBP started beeping at me — three beeps over and over is a signal that you have a RAM issue — and I never really could get the thing to work right.

Last night, I went to the Apple Store at Northpark Mall in Dallas, and Taylor, one of the geniuses there took my MBP to the back after I explained the issue. For what should have taken about two minutes, it lasted for about 10-15 and apparently in that time, he did some testing for me.

What he came back and said is that he, as a Genius, recommends the Crucial cards and NOT the Corsair sticks.  Of course, I could pay Apple $200 for their cards, but hey, Crucial is like $80, and Corsair was about $75.  Why not the Corsairs? He says the boards on them are a “little thicker” than the Crucial cards so when you put the thicker one in the top slot, it can pop out when the bottom one is thinner. So, he said he put the Crucial card on top.  He said if there are other issues, that I should scrap the Corsair and go with another Crucial card.

So, I recommend if you’re going to upgrade RAM on your MacBook Pro, it’s recommended that you use Crucial sticks, not Corsair.

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Donny Claxton Speaks At Central Texas Learning and Technology Summit

Oct 14, 2013 by

Donny Claxton Speaks At Central Texas Learning and Technology Summit 

Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, I had the privilege of presenting during the Austin and San Antonio Chapter ASTD conference entitled the Central Texas Learning and Technology Summit.

The focus was on mobile learning and the technologies that make it all work.

My presentation, after more than 20 months of use of iBooks Author and building eBooks as well, was about eBooks and Books For iPad: what one can do with them and how to make them.

A copy of my presentation is available for download from a public link on Dropbox. If you have an iPad, you’ll need to download the file first to your computer and then load it into iTunes before syncing it to your iPad.  (And of course, you must be running at least iOS 5.1 and have iBooks 3.)

Donny Claxton speaking in San Antonio during an ASTD conference on mobile learning.

Donny Claxton speaking in San Antonio during an ASTD conference on mobile learning.

Even I was amazed at some of the presentations and developments taking place in the world of mobile apps and technologies. It’s inspiring to see some things that we only could have dreamed about a few years ago are quickly coming to fruition and even are already behind the curve, even though they’re likely still very much ahead of most.

George Saltsman from Abilene Christian University, who helped lead us into the development of books for iPad also spoke about changes that are coming in the pedagogy of education, while Dr. Robbie Melton from the University of Tennessee’s Board Regents showed off some amazing new gadgets and apps that are changing the workforce around the world.

FROM MY PRESENTATION, you will see a discussion about many of the amazing widgets and products we’ve built for books for iPad and a healthy discussion about whether or not we should even continue to call these products “books.” Also discussed are some of the variations and differences in this emerging field of technology, like the difference between EPUB 2.0.1 and EPUB 3.0 and what those two things mean to someone trying to decide on an eReader or an author trying to figure out which platform they should be publishing their materials on.

After my presentation, I was flooded with requests for more information, business cards and LinkedIn requests.

If you have any questions about how to make an eBook in EPUB or an interactive book for the iPad using 3D animations, movies, interactive timelines, puzzles and more, please reach out and let me know.

 

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iBooks Author Full Screen Background Now Black: How’d We Do That?

Aug 2, 2013 by

iBooks Author Full Screen Background Now Black: How’d We Do That? 

As we noted before, Apple defaulted the background screen in iBooks Author to display photos on a WHITE background when an image is displayed full-screen. One of our clients didn’t like that and said it washed out the image. He was right.  In Gallery in iBooks Author, full-screen display changes the background to BLACK and images punch out much better. (Look at the last two images in this post. You’ll see what we mean.)

The problem is, by Apple’s design, there’s no way to change the background from white to black or any other color.  Apple has decided they shall remain on a white bg.

So how did we get around this?

STEP 1:

iBooks Author's Inspector Window Featuring Gallery

iBooks Author’s Inspector Window Featuring Gallery

In the Inspection window, the last tab to the right has a Layout/Interaction menu for working with photos.  Even if you just want to display one picture, we recommend you drop the GALLERY widget onto a page, and then load in the one image. (Of course, images should be .pngs, no larger than 2048 x 1536, and have a dpi of 132).  This is an important step. You cannot just change an Image over to the Photo designation we’re going to describe for this to work!

STEP 2:  To create a new option under the drop down menu, highlight Gallery and hold it.  You will see the “Edit Label Styles … ” dialogue area at the bottom of the menu open.  Click on it.

Hold down Gallery for this new menu to open.

Hold down Gallery for this new menu to open.

STEP 3: A new dialogue box will open allowing you to either add (+) or delete options(-).  Press + and name your new setting.  We chose PHOTO since Image is already in use and we didn’t want to create confusion.

STEP 4: Go to the Inspector window after highlighting the Gallery listing for the image and change it from Gallery to Photo (or whatever designation you created.) Then add whatever titling and caption options that are necessary for the style of your project.

That’s really all you have to do.  You’ve now created a Gallery widget and changed it’s designation, but it’s still technically a Gallery widget. You’re just going to display one photo in it.

 

 

What’s the difference?

Here’s the image saved as a straight up Image file in iBooks Author when the image is increased to full-screen:

A full-screen image in iBooks Author displays on an annoying white background.

A full-screen image in iBooks Author displays on an annoying white background.

 

This is what happens once you follow the steps outlined above–loading an image in a Gallery and then changing it’s designation to Photo or the name of your choosing.

A Gallery Widget in iBook Author Renamed To Photo to Display on a Black Background.

A Gallery Widget in iBook Author Renamed To Photo to Display on a Black Background.

 

One Small Problem: The only problem with this solution is the fact that Gallery photos are formatted in a 2:3 proportion and there’s no changing that. This will only work if you don’t care if you can’t show the entire image in the window, meaning it will have to be popped open to display in full.  So, while it is a solution, it doesn’t match the power of displaying and entire image as you can with just Image.

Obviously, it’d be easier to fix this if Apple provided a setting for it, but they don’t and from conversations with them, it doesn’t sound like it’s going to happen anytime soon.  So here’s the workaround and thanks, Apple.

Once you create the Photo designation, it’s just a matter then of remembering to load all images as Galleries and then just not adding more than one photo to them if you’re going to display one pic.  If you’re going to do a Gallery as it was intended, you just leave the Gallery named Gallery and keep on going.  If you want to display the thumbnails, that’s easy.  Just check the box and they’ll pop up.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The page displayed is an example of one of the photos to be included in our ongoing Bach project.  Exciting news to follow soon!  

 

 

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Apple please fix iBooks Author full screen image background settings

Jul 24, 2013 by

Apple please fix iBooks Author full screen image background settings

 iBooks Author full-screen image white BG

Per Apple, at present, one can’t change the white background that displays on a full-screen png in iBooks Author.

Our Bach book client we are working with in iBooks Author has a legitimate beef with Apple and in our research, we can’t find a workable solution.

If one sets a photo to open full-screen in a book for iPad made with iBooks Author 2.0 the image presents on a screen with a white background.

If you set two photos, .PNGs, in a gallery and then open them full-screen, they present on a screen with a black background.

In the design of a book for iPad, not every book needs to go into a gallery, but in our book on Bach, which is going to be one of the most in depth pieces of work on J.S. Bach, it’s annoying to see the images against the white when they would clearly stand out better against the black.

I thought about putting all images on a screen that’s 2048 x 1536 and on a black BG and then using the Alpha to remove the black in the initial image, but that takes away the black in full-screen as well.  Not a solution.

The only other option would be to put every photo into a “gallery” setting and just not add the thumbnails on images that are not multiple .PNGs, but that seems like it’d get wonky and it’d seem that a gallery, by definition, would consist of two or more images.

In iBooks Author gallery images display with a black background on full-screen, but even this setting can't be changed.

In iBooks Author gallery images display with a black background on full-screen, but even this setting can’t be changed.

Apple, Please Fix This

A search of the message boards and a call to Apple Support has revealed that indeed, at this writing on July 24, 2013, there is no way to change a setting in the Inspector panel to remedy this.

Audio Page Specific

The other major complaint we are having as we build this vast work of Bach is that a reader can’t tap on the MP4 files we’re embedding and turn the page.  Audio and video files are page specific, so a reader listening to the music and reading can only read the page they’re on and hear what they’re wanting to listen to….

 

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