Making A Book For The iPad Using iBooks Author Widgets

Aug 9, 2012 by

iBooks Author Widgets are what make books for the iPad stand out above those made for the Kindle and the Nook.

One of the coolest aspects about iBooks Author—probably the point that actually gives it the most opportunity and life—are widgets. There are seven primary widgets that come built in the program. We will talk about each of them and some options for making the pieces that go in each category in today’s post.

Gallery—The gallery widget in iBooks Author is for posting multiple photos. When you add photos, the gallery stores each of them in one interactive box and when you tap on the box, it pops open. One also can scroll through the photos loaded in the built-in option and see them without going full screen.  (In a minute you’ll read about from Belgium. Their developer, Niels, added an additional feature we’ve used in 2012: Science & Prophecy of the Ancient Maya, where one can also embed a hot spot and even a picture-in-picture feature in a gallery.  Both have their places. We even used Niels’ gallery to create an interactive chart of the different periods of Maya history. Very cool.

ReviewThe product comes with a built-in review function.  We’ve not really had the chance to explore it, but know that there are also third-party widgets that offer a wider variety of options in this area.

Interactive Image—This option allows one to place a photo in iBooks Author and then set a zoom with a blow up bubble that offers cutline/caption content about what one is viewing. This can be a great tool if say you were doing an iBook on the recent Mars landing “crime scene” as they’re nicknaming the photo. You could start with the wide image, but if you wanted to see more of curiosity, you can set it to zoom into that area of the picture, see caption information and then zoom back out and then over to the parachute, for instance. Very cool feature.

HTML—This is the tool to help plug in third-party widgets into you iBook. Whether it’s an image coming in from Tumult’s Hype, or, this is where they go to get placed within your iBook.

Media—This is the widget that allows one to add videos. There’s a whole post coming on what all that entails, but suffice it to say, this is what allows one to embed them into an iBook.

Keynote—We’ve not used this function yet, but know it’s there. Keynote projects can be added to an iBook, though we also know if we were to do some things in Keynote, we’d also use the .mov export, which would require some additional steps that will be mentioned in the upcoming video post in this series.

3-D—If you want people to stand around with your iBook and just keep rubbing their fingers over the screen in a trance-like state, here’s the widget for you.  More is coming in a separate post tomorrow on 3-D images and the tools to make them happen. You CANNOT use these and put them in a Nook or a Kindle, and it is in this regard, that an iBook blows anything in the ePub or print format away.  In the 2012 iBook we’re including four 3-D images. More about that tomorrow….

Third-Party Widget Vendors

Separate posts will be coming on each of these three vendors.  Each has done some really amazing things to prepare the technology that can be used in iBooks and they each really deserve their own mention.

Tumult’s HypeThis creates animations that are good for iBooks and HTML 5. We’ve even perfected a process to embed audio into iBooks and will be using it on some amazing children’s books that are just around the corner.  Hype only works on a Mac, but then, so does iBooks Author. It’s about $50 to buy a full license for the program, but they do give you 30 days by the calendar to decide if you want to invest. Their customer service is very good and their support forums are very helpful.  We’ve enjoyed interactions with them and they have even thanked us for the video demo on how to add audio to an iBook.

ClassWidgets.comThis was the first site recommended to us for use of timeline imagery.  We used it to create a slider widget for the 2012 iBook that features the different languages spoken in ancient Mesoamerica.  We also used it to take what took two print pages in a traditional textbook and turn it into a 1/2 of a page image that blows up and shows some 20 different frames and images that could not have been done in a book.  They also have some new things in the works. You’ll want to put this site in your bookmarks.

iBook-Widgets.comWe signed up for this site before it launched and formed a relationship with Niels, the site’s creator.  What a cool guy in the heart of Belgium.  He also has developed a slider timeline, which works just as well or better than the slider. He’s also perfected that gallery widget with PIP that we mentioned above. He also has, like, a widget to embed videos in an iBook, and created the coolest widget I’ve seen yet on doing algebraic math formulas and being able to see the plots change in real time on the iPad.

The widgets creation field is only going to expand as the adoption of iBooks expands.  We’ve already got some great tools to work with and the promise that they’re going to get even better over time.  We’ve had numerous discussions with Niels about things he’s working on and he keeps telling us they’re already on the list.  A great and exciting place in which to be…..

Coming Monday, Aug. 13, 3-D.

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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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Making A Book For The iPad With iBooks Author Text

Aug 7, 2012 by

Writing copy for to be included in an iBooks Author text  is not like writing a traditional book. (Stop and re-read that first sentence again. It’s critical you understand this point before you go any further.)

In fact, we’ve been arguing already that works done in iBooks Author shouldn’t even be called “books.”  They don’t meet the traditional definition of a book: “A set of written, printed or blank pages fastened along one side and encased between protective covers.” And they’re not eBooks, either. What you produce for your iPad in iBooks Author can NOT be seen on a Kindle or a Nook.  You can’t even read it on your computer’s desktop.  

And because of this, approaching what you’re going to write has to be different, too.  In public relations, we teach our young practitioners when planning a media event to “think of the visuals. How is this going to look on TV?” With an iBook, you have to think about the words, the visuals, the audio, the interactive pieces, 3-D animations, quizzes, even glossary items, and you have to think about how they’re all going to work together to provide something new—a tool readers can use to discover on their own, not just read.

This begs a new way of thinking.

So what writing tools do we suggest one use to go through this process?

This blog post is being written in Scrivener. Want to try it out? They have the best system of anyone we’ve ever seen online. You get 30 days of use to try out the product. Not 30 days straight on the calendar where you may open it on a Tuesday and not get back to it until Friday and you’ve lost three days. No, Scrivener would count that as two days of use. But their system for helping writers think through their work, organize, and hey, if you are writing fiction, they even have a fictitious name generator.  While it’s not specifically geared for writing an iBook, it still is an excellent tool to have. It also can open to wide screen so the writing space is all that’s left to your attentions.

The other good aspect to Scrivener is that when it comes time to insert text into iBooks, it’s just a copy and a paste process.  Boom, you’re done.

Pages, by Apple, is another great option. Working in iBooks Author feels like working in Pages or Keynote. If you buy Pages in the App store, you can get it for $19.99, which is a far cry short of what you’d pay for the behemoth that we will recommend last. When you have finished writing in Pages, iBooks Author allows you to import the text and it will keep the formatting you’ve already done and pull it right in.  Nice.

The TextEdit App that comes standard on a Mac is another option, but our recommendation really is the first two programs.  TextEdit comes in handy if you’re resigned to use the last significant option out there, and that’s Microsoft Word. We take such a dim view of MS Word because of all the extra junk that Microsoft crams into just a simple Word document Yes, iBooks Author will allow you to pull in an MS Word document, just like one can do with Pages, but we’ve found there to be some much bulky code in the files, it can become a mess.  Typically, before going from MS Word to anything Apple related, it’s a good thing to drop it into TextEdit, and then immediately copy it again, and then paste it where you wanted to put it in the first place. Quite often, it’s been our experience when we take text in MS Word and attempt to paste it into Pages, Pages crashes if we haven’t done the conversion in TextEdit.

To better organize your project, we overwhelmingly recommend Scrivener.


iBooks Author

Of course, one could simply begin writing their text in iBooks Author as well.  But it’s not recommended.  There are too many ways to be distracted, and you’re going to be creating chapters and sections in .iba that will make this process laborious and confusing.

Our recommendation, if you’ve never made an iBook is to toy around with some of the options and features within iBooks Author before you begin writing.  You also should go to iTunes and open the iBookstore.  There’s a specific section there for iBooks made with iBooks Author.  We recommend downloading a few of the free ones, and pick a couple of the paid ones, too, just so you can see the differences in the quality of work and layout.

We have found iBooks Author to be an amazing product and a great tool for changing how people interact with information.  If you have questions about how to use it, feel free to ask.  If you’re considering an iBook project, we’d be more than happy to work with you through the process. You can call us at 972-863-8784 to set up a free consultation.

Tomorrow’s topic: Photos & Images.

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Free Facebook Cover–Windmill, The Moon & A Jet

Aug 7, 2012 by

We are posting a new daily series of Facebook Cover images that you are welcome to use on your personal wall.

All are photo properties of Claxton Creative, LLC of Dallas, TX, but you are authorized to post them on your Facebook Wall, provided you do not interfere or alter the @ClaxtonCreativecopyright mention.

All Facebook Cover images are 850 by 320 pixels and are produced in Adobe Creative Cloud Photoshop CS6.

Today’s image features a windmill on I-30 in Balch Springs, Texas, that has since been torn down.

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Making A ‘Book’ With iBooks Author

Aug 6, 2012 by

Making a “book” with iBooks Author is not like anything you’ve ever done before.  We promise.

Apple did a fantastic thing in January when it released its iBooks Author software to the world. The software makes it possible to include audio, video, text, 3-D animations, interactive widgets, graphs, quizzes and HTML links all in a “book,” that Apple has heavily trademarked and called an “iBook.” 

It is important to distinguish here that an iBook made for the iPad can not be opened on a Kindle or a Nook.  You can’t even read one on a desktop of a Mac.  It’s a product for the iPad only.  (We’ve even argued that the word “Book” should be dropped from the description of what this is….)

Numerous times since January, this writer has had conversations with people who heard me talking about an iBook for the iPad, but they really had no idea what I was talking about.  Many still, even in August 2012, are confusing the iBook for an e-Pub book they’ve read on their Kindle or Nook.  Talk about frustrating.

Turning the Page

But it’s when you open a 3-D image of say, the Rio Azul mask in the soon-to-be-released 2012: Science and Prophecy of the Ancient Maya by scholar Dr. Mark Van Stone and you put the iPad in front of them that eyes pop. And then they touch their fingers to the iPad screen and begin to spin it around in a trance. The next reaction is, “WOW! My Kindle/Nook can’t do this.”  EXACTLY!  And then there is no going back….

The iBook is soon-to-be-released by Apple.

Today at we begin a new series on iBooks Author.

At present, we have finished one book and are in final edits and approvals, ready to send it to Apple for their blessings and entry into the iTunes iBookstore. We have three other children’s books in the hopper and are looking to do other projects. Ultimately, we want to produce the series of books that started this whole pursuit via our sister project and website,

With the release of iBooks Author, yes, a lay person can make one of these books. But a word of caution.

We just invested seven months of seven-days-a-week work to discover the processes for how to make these technological wonders. Many of us have been given uplifting (sarcasm) advice to go get “real jobs,” to “take a salary,” etc., all the while knowing that what we are doing has never been done before and because of that, we can make a difference.

The iBook Challenge

There have been hours of frustration.  Hours of staring at settings in applications, cursing them, talking to them and begging them to work.

There have been hours listening to audio files and trying to remove sounds that we wish we hadn’t recorded (the convention center manager in Memphis will always remain one of our least favorite people on the planet.)

We’ve done editing on hours and hours of video clips.  Endured kernel crashes from computer software that the manufacturer says we’re causing because we’ve pushed their premium technology further than it may be ready or capable of going.

There have been days of going to bed puzzled. And days of not going to bed at all because we wanted to find a workable solution to a vexing problem and refused to let technology get the best of us.  This writer can think of at least three occasions where unraveling a particular issue took 36 hours here, 52 hours there, and another 16 hours there.

If you have this kind of a drive, this series is for you.  (If you’re interested in us doing it all for you, give us a call today at 972-863-8784.  We’d be happy to have your business.)

The iBook Information Sharing Strategy & Budding Community

We share this information willingly, though some might say we’re giving away trade secrets. Share with us something that’s not a secret because of the Internet…. When we have shared, we’ve found wonderful people around the world who have shared something mutual in return.  And we’re building a vast community of people like us; people who want to use this technology to change the world and make learning something along the lines of a discovery, not rote memorization.

We are on the verge of greatness with this new product.

Tomorrow we begin with the first step—exploring and explaining the software product, iBooks Author. The rest of the series will break down the aspects of an iBook—Photo & Images, Audio, Video, Widgets, 3-D animations, Text programs, and just as important as all the rest, where does one store all this information.  We invite you back to sample a little of each part and even more so, encourage you to share your stories or struggles. Through it all, we all will make better products for our growing number of readers.

It’s going to be an exciting series.


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Free Facebook Cover: Waiting For Mary Poppins

Aug 6, 2012 by

We are posting a new daily series of Facebook Cover images that you are welcome to use on your personal wall.

All are photo properties of Claxton Creative, LLC of Dallas, TX, but you are authorized to post them on your Facebook Wall, provided you do not interfere or alter the @ClaxtonCreativecopyright mention.

All Facebook Cover images are 850 by 320 pixels and are produced in Adobe Creative Cloud Photoshop CS6.

Today’s image features what we’re calling: “Waiting For Mary Poppins.”

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Free Facebook Cover–The Guns of the USS Alabama

Aug 5, 2012 by

We are posting a new daily series of Facebook Cover images that you are welcome to use on your personal wall.

All are photo properties of Claxton Creative, LLC of Dallas, TX, but you are authorized to post them on your Facebook Wall, provided you do not interfere or alter the @ClaxtonCreativecopyright mention.

All Facebook Cover images are 850 by 320 pixels and are produced in Adobe Creative Cloud Photoshop CS6.

Today’s image features the view from the bridge of the USS Alabama.

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