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What is iBooks Author?

ibooks author logoiBooks Author is an amazing (free) app that allows you to create beautiful interactive ebooks you can share with friends – or publish yourself. It’s never been easier for publishers, authors, and content creators to produce books of all types that bring content to life in ways the printed page never could.

This tutorial will show you everything you need to know to get you up and writing with iBooks Author.

Getting Started

iBooks Author is available for free in the Mac App Store here. Or just search for “iBooks Author” in the App Store.

free ibooks author application app store


 Note: To use iBooks Author, you’ll need a Macintosh computer running OSX 10.7 or later. If you want to be able to preview your book while you’re creating it, you’ll need an iPad with iBooks 3.0 installed (also free). 

Video: How To Install iBooks Author

Here’s a quick demo video on how to check your operating system and how to install the iBooks Author application from the Mac App Store.

Working With iBooks Author

Here’s everything you need to know about using the application:

Step 1: Choose A Template

Once you’ve installed the iBooks Author app, go to your Applications folder and click on the iBooks Author icon to begin creating your book.

The first thing you’ll need to do is choose a template. The iBooks Author application come pre-packaged with a few templates already. For this example, we’ll select the Editorial Template. This is what the screen looks like:

ibooks author designs, ibook design, ebook templates

Obviously, those templates don’t fit the needs of everyone. Luckily for you, we specialize in template design and you can check out all our iBooks Author Templates here.

Don’t see what you need? Check out the largest selection of professionally designed iBooks Author Templates here.

Step 2: Set Up Your Workspace

Depending on your screen resolution, you might not be able to see he entire document on your screen. To fix this, go down to the bottom left-hand corner and click the drop-down menu where you see 100%. Scroll until you find the “Fit Page” and select that option. This will display the entire page within your screen.

Next, you’re going to want to see all of the different template pages available to you as layout options. To see these, go up to the top of your screen and select View >>  Show Layouts as seen below:

View ibooks author layouts


We’d also recommend checking the “view styles drawer” and “view rulers” options to help with design later.

On the left-hand side you’ll see a sidebar that has an outline of your entire book. This is where you can click on individual pages, such as your book title, the intro media, the table of contents, the glossary, etc.

At the top of your window you’ll find the main toolbar. Here you’re able to add individual chapters, sections, or pages to your book, view the orientation (landscape and portrait), add text boxes, shapes, tables, and charts, as well as interactive widgets (we will get to those later).

Step 3: Intro Media

If you saw Apple’s demo video, you noticed an pretty cool intro video which played when you opened up the book.

To add the intro piece, simply click in the lefthand sidebar on Intro Media. Now you can simply drag and drop in a movie.

Note: the video that you add in o the intro needs to be in the .m4v video format. 

If you have a video that you need to move into this format, you can open it up in QuickTime player that ships with Mac OS X Lion.  Choose “File” menu, and choose “Export”. The default setting for Format should be iPad, iPhone 4 & Apple TV. Now your video will be compressed into the correct format and you can add it directly into iBooks Author.

Step 4: Chapters, Sections, and Layouts

The iBooks Author Application follows a “textbook” style layout. This doesn’t mean you need to create a textbook or follow the ‘chapter, section, pages’ hierarchy, but it does mean you’ll have to get creative if that’s not your style.

To begin, you must start with and have at least one Chapter for your book. This might be frustrating for some of you who, for example, are creating a comic book that doesn’t have “chapters” per se. But you can always make this Chapter page more of an intro page instead. Then you can simply add individual pages after it.

Note: At the time of this writing, iBooks Author has one small little quirk, which makes it essential that you plan out your book before you begin writing. You can’t easily move one Chapter ahead of another if you change your mind on order. So, plan accordingly!

Step 5: Adding Content

This is so easy – it’s like watching magic.

iBooks Author makes it simple to add text, graphics, movies, and more with a “drag and drop” interface. Literally take a Pages or Microsoft Word document and drag it into the Book pane to add it as a new section. When you drag and drop in images, your text automatically flows around them.

Images and other interactive widgets work the same way. Simply select and drag and drop into your book. Add shapes, charts, tables, text, and widgets anywhere on the page with a single click. This makes customization a breeze.

Step 6: Using Interactive Widgets

Ok – this is actually where the magic happens.

Widgets add Multi-Touch interactivity your books – and you don’t need any technical expertise to do it. Like we stated before, widgets are drag and drop easy. Here’s what’s available to you:

ibooks author video tutorialVideo Widget

Video and audio bring any subject matter to life, anywhere on the page. Movies can play automatically, and iBooks Author allows any frame of a movie to be the poster frame.

3D Object Widget

Readers can interact with 3D objects by touch. For example, instead of seeing just a cross section of the brain, they can manipulate a 3D image to see all the way around it. iBooks Author gives book creators the option to adjust the background, allow readers to rotate the object freely, or constrain its movement to horizontal or vertical rotation.

Scrolling Side Bar WidgetScrolling Sidebar Widget

This is another very cool new widget in iBooks Author. With the scrolling sidebar, you can insert large portions of text that the reader can scroll through without changing the page. This is great for getting a lot of information in one area while avoiding screen changes.


interactive ibooks authorInteractive Images and Gallery Widget

Pictures go further when they’re interactive. Callouts and pan-and-zoom features add even more to the experience. With the gallery option, readers can swipe through an entire collection of interactive photos and captions with a finger instead of one per page. They can navigate the gallery using photo thumbnails or step through images one at a time.

Keynote Presentation Widget

This widget let’s readers browse through a Keynote presentations with custom animations — right inside the book. The widget includes intuitive controls for slide navigation and optional self-playing presentations.

Audio COntrolAudio

This allows you to link audio to objects within your book. For example, let’s say you’re creating a children’s book of farm animals. You want the user to be able to touch the screen on an image of a duck and it results in a “quacking” sound. Now you can, with the new customized audio control.

Pop-Over Widget

Pop-Over WidgetThe pop-over widget allows you to tap an object, for example an image, and have a pop-up window appear with text, images, or shapes inside of it. The advantage of a popover is that you can provide additional information or instructions about how to use an object on the screen. Pop-overs are also easily dismissed simply by tapping outside of the popover view.


Another time saver for anyone creating a book involving equations. iBooks Author 2.0 supports three new options for equations; MathType, Latex, or MathML. You can adjust the font size or color of an equation just as you would ordinary text.


iBooks Author let’s you create a book that’s not only fun to read – but fun to explore.

Step 7: Design Your Cover

On the left side of iBooks Author, click the “Book Title” link in the book layout pane to open up the book cover screen.

You can double-click any of the text fields directly on the book cover to edit them.

Note: that you can also add, remove, and reposition text boxes to get your titles looking just the way you want. 

Step 8: Preview On Your iPad

A great feature when working with iBooks Author is the ability to preview your work on an iPad so you can see what it looks like in real time. This let’s you see if what you’ve built looks and functions the way that you were expecting.

Step-By-Step Guide to Preview Your iBook
  1. Make sure you have iBooks 3.0 downloaded and installed on your iPad. Connect your iPad to your computer, then open up the iBooks App.
  2. Have your book open in iBooks Author (desktop) and click the preview button at the top right-hand part of your screen to load your entire finished book directly onto your iPad.
  3. Woah – pretty cool!

By constantly testing your book at every stage along the way, you can save yourself hours or even days of editing time and fixing problems that you never knew existed.

Step 9: Publish To The iBookstore

For those of you who want to publish your books through the iBookstore, you’ll need an iBooks Account, which you’ll use in iTunes Connect. You’ll also need iTunes Producer to upload your iBook to Apple. 

Step-By-Step Guide to Publish to the iBookstore
  1. Sign up for an iBooks account and download iTunes Producer
  2. When you are ready to publish your iBook, navigate to File >> Publish. iBooks Author will first check your file for errors. If there aren’t any errors and it passes the pre-publish check, click Continue.
  3. Sign into your iTunes Connect account and select if you’re uploading a new title or updating a title you’ve already published.
  4. Now you’ll be asked to create a sample from one of your chapters. This is a great way to lure readers in, sort of like having super-appealing screenshots for your app.
  5. At this point, you’ll be prompted to install iTunes Producer if you have not already done so. If you already have it installed, it should open automatically for you to upload your file.
  6. In iTunes Producer, you’ll need to fill out all of the information about your book. Go through each tab and carefully decide what you’d like to enter in each text field. This is also where you’ll upload your cover artwork and screenshots that appear in iTunes.
  7. Once you’ve uploaded your file to Apple, you can sign into iTunes Connect and check to see if your book appears under “Manage Your Books”.

Hooray! Congratulations, you published a book. There is an approval process and times vary.

Step 10: Other Publishing Options

Export your book as a PDF. You can then sell it on your own, give it away for free, post it on your web site, etc. If your book isn’t media intensive, this is a great option since PDFs can’t have embedded video, image galleries, or other sorts of interactive content.

Export your book in the iBooks format. Your book will have all the interactive elements and you can load it on your iPad or give it to a friend for their iPad. However, you can’t sell the book.

Simply export your book in the format of your choice and then distribute it however you like. To export your book, navigate to File >> Export. Here you will see options to export your book as an iBooks file, PDF, or plain text document. Simply choose your options here, hit Next, and follow the next few screens to finally save your file in the format you’ve chosen.

Psst…we can help you design your own book with our professionally designed iBooks Author templates here).