iBooks Author or ePub 3.0

So I have finished the first of my books. The Creatures of Harmony Valley and the Musical Alphabet and I did it all without the help of iBooks Author. It’s an interactive book and that’s what iBooks Author sets out to create, so why did I use ePub 3.0?

There are many reasons, and maybe one of them is that I hate it when someone else finishes my crossword puzzle. You know what I mean. That annoying person who leans over your shoulder on the train and casually says “12 down – antiestablishmentarianism”. I’ve had many a fantasy consisting of my pen and maimed body parts.

So, I must admit I am a little like that, and I didn’t want to just throw something together on iBooks Author and feel like I hadn’t really done all the work. However, there’s a lot more to it than that.

The advantages of iBooks Author are many and I certainly wouldn’t rule out using it in the future. The main advantage of course is in the speed of production. Type it, style it, add images and widgets and you’re done. Of course the author’s content is not as simple as that, but it does remove the need to add javascript, css3 and so on, which can become cumbersome when you just want to write.

If someone is creating a travel book, photo book  or a workbook then iBooks Author is perfect and allows the author more time to concentrate on the most important thing… content. My needs weren’t as simple as that.

I needed interactivity for The Creatures of Harmony Valley and the Musical Alphabet and of a type I could control. Widgets were not going to cut it for me. I researched whether to use iBooks Author before I started on my book and it is seriously impressive. I even, (with my limited HTML5 experience) created a widget of my own to see just how viable it was and that’s were it fell down.

I wasn’t ready to start purchasing third party widgets and use them (a little of that crossword thing maybe). Also, the time it took me to create the widget could have been spent working on a HTML5 ePUB 3.0 book. Why make widgets when you can make the whole book that way? There’s also the problem that the widgets are not part of the whole page but something that needs to be tapped to instantiate. That works perfectly for embedded video, slideshows and the like but what if you want the whole page to be completely interactive, as I have in my book, and not an embedded widget? What if you want the characters in your scene to react to touch, or for the page to be a simple quiz, based on choosing notes from a music tree (it doesn’t sound so weird if you read the book) and all of that to be the page itself.  Then that is were widgets don’t cut it.

Of course this is all very personal for me and my needs. Others will have different opinions depending on their needs. Hopefully, my opinion can help someone make a decision in the future depending on their needs but there is one other problem and it’s a big one for me. Ownership.

If you make your book with iBooks Author you cannot sell it anywhere else but the iBookstore. You, of course, own the copyright to your content but not the iBooks file. At the minute, for me, that isn’t such a big issue. iOS devices and iBooks are really the only choices you have when it comes to interactive books. So, for the moment, that’s the only place I can sell my book, realistically.

In that last sentence is the key phrase. ‘For the moment’. The HTML5 capabilities of ePUB 3.0 are there, and are there for any of the major e-reader manufacturers to use. I doubt very much that it will go away. More likely, is that over the next months or years ePUB 3.0 will become a standard found on everyone’s phones and it’s interactive capabilities will become the norm. HTML5 is already all over the web and more so on mobile browsers, so why would the ePUB 3.0 standard not begin to appear readily on our devices?

So for those reasons, for the chance to sell my book anywhere in the future and because I like to do my own crosswords, I’m going to stick with ePUB 3.0. Until ePub 4.0 comes out, of course.