Friday, March 2, 2012

Custom Text-book Authoring In A Digital World

Custom publishing has never been so easy and innovative. Several companies have recently released free self-authoring software and professional publication tools that facilitate the construction of academic and trade e-books. Three products offer promise: Apple has a new product called iBooks Author; another free and open-source product is called Booktype, while a third publishing solution is called Inkling Habitat.

iBooks Author is an App that allows authors to create multi-touch dynamic e-books in short order. Building a book on the Apple App is simplistic due to pre-built templates, drop and drag features, text wrap, and the ability to drop in Word documents. I recently spoke with a professor who published a textbook in two hours flat and is looking to earn 70% off the sale from each book sold.

The iBooks Author tool allows writers the ability to add text, shapes, charts, tables, and multi-touch widgets anywhere on the page with a single click. Since it is an Apple product, it requires an Apple reading devise such as the iPad.

iBooks image

Booktype was recently developed by Sourcefabric and is a collaborative publishing tool. The authoring application is designed to support teams of authors working concurrently on the same manuscript. Booktype makes it easier for groups of authors to collate, organize and edit manuscripts during the pre-publication period.

Booktype was designed to organize large volumes of content. It allows authors the ability to import text, drop, drag, and import additional content and make appropriate attributions. It also has social tools to link to web 2.0 applications. Booktype would make publishing a book from years of lecture and research notes quite easy. In fact, it would facilitate a rich collaboration among colleagues from other campuses whereby making it easy to pull together large amounts of content into a single publication. As for publishing - Booktype relies on CSS, JavaScript and WebKit; therefore, everything can be done in the browser.

Inkling Habitat is a scalable publishing environment for interactive content that is cloud-based and for professional publishers. The cool factor is that Inkling Habitat lets publishers create interactive e-books with HD video, interactive features and 3D content in a free, cloud-based program. Moreover, the cloud-based approach allows authors, editors, and artists the ability to collaborate on textbooks simultaneously from anywhere. While new to market, the brains behind this application come from Matt MacInnis, a former Apple educational marketing manager. As mocoNews notes the iPad was the initial target platform for Inkling although it has since added HTML5-based web publishing. As such the books may be read on any device with a browser.

In sum, self-publishing dynamic, interactive e-books has never been so easy or quick!

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