20 January 2012

What do you think about iBook and iBook Author?

When I first read the snippet about Apple's announcement, I thought it sounded great for non-fiction authors, especially for how-to authors, history ... to add photos, links, and videos to enrich your narrative. Who wouldn't want that? As for textbook market, I thought it would bring the subject material to life. If I'd had books like those while I took physics classes, I probably wouldn't still have a chip on my shoulder about Mr. Newton.

But as I'm focused on the fiction side of books, I've been thinking of ways a fiction author could use photos and music to set the mood for their written word. Does the storytelling medium change from written word to something closer to a movie? How much do I as an author want to set the stage and how much do I want to leave for the reader? Will adding these new elements make the reader more engaged or less? Tricky questions.

Already other authors are sharing their views. On the internet today are two different reactions, one from a non-fiction author, the other a fiction writer.
  • Joseph Linaschke, a professional photographer, posted on one of his blogs a few experimental pages of a photobook centered around his trip to Vietnam. Joseph's early-adopter actions lead me to think he's excited about the idea. (If you can, download and read his experimental book if not for the interactive book experience, for the photographs.)
  • Holly Lisle, a published fiction writer and writing teacher, has pulled all her books from the iBookstore because of changes in the EULA. She posted her reasoning here.
On the textbook side ... On yesterday's Tech News Today, a guest raised concerns about iPad availability and cost for students and how to manage hardware and books in the primary education environment. Additionally, she suggested that interactions with such a textbook could include a larger social aspect than with just an individual student, allowing for entire class group discussions.

This is just what popped up in my limited view in Facebook, email, and podcasts. I'm sure many other folks are weighing in on the news with varied opinions.

What do you think? What will ultimately happen? Let me know in the comments section.

As for me, I don't know how things will shake out. I suspect other companies will release a program similar to iBook Author that would let anyone, on any computer platform, create and sell their content on multiple computer platforms and devices, with less egregious terms and conditions

It will be interesting to watch the book writing and publishing industry, already undergoing transition, react to this further democratization of creating and publishing content. Who knows what other changes will be catalyzed?

What I know for sure is that I'll be keeping a close eye on it all.

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