Bookmaking with iBooks Author

In the wake of Steve Jobs’ passing, Apple’s venture into new technological territory was inevitable. This exploration of new frontiers comes in the form of the iBooks Author, a new (and free) app designed to aid the populace in creating and self-publishing their own material via Apple eBooks. This new app comes with the multi-faceted capability of editing various aspects of the design and overall appearance of a soon-to-be-published work including the ability to display and rotate 3-D diagrams, for example. The two foremost areas iBooks Author could arguably impact in the foreseeable future are in education and in the community of budding authors.

Steve Jobs has been known to support reforms in education and it seems as if Apple, post-Jobs, has decided to follow suit. Essentially, apps like the iBooks Author would revolutionize the way the world learns. Apple hopes it will aid teachers in presenting information in a variety of ways to appeal to all students at all levels of education.

Such a hope is a bit too optimistic. While such an app would undeniably be another useful tool to aid in the learning process of students, its impact would not necessarily revolutionize the world of education. Yes, it would be marginally easier to facilitate proper learning, but such a change would be too insignificant in a world where too many new technological tools already exist to effectively change the way we learn. iBooks Author, in terms of improving the quality of education, only makes what is easy, easier. What teachers would do through a Word document, they can now do through self-published eBooks.

Frankly, while technology is an asset, too much technology can be a hindrance. The basic chalk-to-chalkboard style of teaching can, at times, equally convey lessons in a more personal and interactive manner. That is not to say that such technology is an absolute evil. Of course, we should still embrace technological advances such as iBooks Author. Such an innovation is vital to the forward-minded progress of education today as part of a collective whole, not as a single defining innovation.

While iBooks Author may not be drastically influential in everyday learning, an area of education it has great potential in positively reforming is in the realm of textbooks. Textbooks, the bane of every college student, are directly associated with cringe-worthy prices. iBooks Author has the opportunity to allow great teachers and instructors to publish textbooks, all at the cost of an eBook. This could result in a revolutionary change in learning by subsequently granting access to good material to a larger portion of the population.

Additionally, to a young budding author who wants his work to be known, iBooks Author can become a valuable resource. With the presence of so many online websites that are meant to help an author get published, it is surprising that such little progress is actually made in favor of these unknown writers. The closest inklings of self-publishing have come in the form of Harper Collins’ “Authonomy,” an online writing community where writers post their works to be assessed by their peers. But even these types of websites lead to a poor amount of actual publishing. This is where iBooks Author truly has potential. The app takes the process one step further and allows writers to proactively self-publish their works. While it is true that it will still be unlikely for an author’s work to gain traction and achieve Harry Potter-level fame, it is more of a possibility than ever. For this, I applaud Apple’s endeavors.

iBooks Author has the potential to become Apple’s new star student while there is still the possibility that it will slowly fade into obscurity. No matter the outcome of its future or the success of its product, however, Apple is headed in the right direction. In the realm of education and self-publishing, I have high hopes. But for now, we all observe the right to be a bit skeptical.

 

Patrick Chung is a first-year comparative literature major. He can be reached at pychung1@uci.edu.