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An Experiment with Comics, iBooks 2.0 and iBooks Author

Last week, Apple unveiled its iBooks Textbooks initiative alongside a new desktop application for OS X, iBooks Author, aimed at offering a single solution for authors willing to edit and design iBooks for the iBookstore or manual distribution through exporting options. Some limitations of iBooks Author have sparked a debate that we’ve covered extensively on MacStories last week, also through articles in our Reading List.

Proprietary file format controversies aside, it was already clear that iBooks Author would undoubtedly facilitate the creation of textbooks and eBooks heavily relying on graphics with its easy-to-use align tools and familiar interface.

Today, cartoon and t-shirt designer Richard Stevens has published an iBooks adaptation of its popular webcomic series that’s been entirely converted and tweaked using iBooks Author as an initial experiment.

Waking Up With the Diesel Sweeties is a tiny little free ebook for the iPad. It contains all my comics from last month with a few tweaks, formatted in iBooks Author. This version only works on the iPad. It’s not in the iBookstore, so you’ll need to download the file and sync it to your iPad.

The eBook is available for download through Dropbox, and it can be installed on an iPad running iBooks 2. You can manually sync the file from iTunes to your iPad, or use an app like GoodReader to download it directly on your device and open it in iBooks. Whilst Stevens’ first iBook is an experiment, it shows the possibilities opened by iBooks 2 and iBooks Author: the book fully supports iBooks’ new annotations, highlights and study cards, and you can pinch on pages to access iBooks’ new navigation with thumbnails displayed at the bottom of the screen.

I wrote last week that I wouldn’t be surprised to see iBooks Author-based eBooks be used for something else other than regular books – for instance, I’ve heard more than one developer say that they’d be interested in using the software to create interactive manuals and help tools for their apps, among other things. iBooks Author may have been criticized and there’s still a lot of features Apple has to clarify and implement (especially for independent authors and publishers), but the interactivity and WebKit-based functionalities offered by the format look more promising every day.

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