Apple has been a presence in Education for a majority of its existence. Over the years they have provided educational discounts for Macs, iPads, and other Apple hardware. They give discounts on software, and even allow third-parties to office bulk discounts in the iOS and Mac App Store. One of the things that they wanted to do was be able to provide a simple tool for creating rich interactive books. These could be any type of books, but textbooks were the primary market. And who uses textbooks the most, education.
The tool that Apple introduced was called iBooks Author. iBooks Author is a tool that allowed you to create these rich books, but they were in a proprietary format that was exclusive to Apple’s platforms. iBooks Author allows you to include video, images, table of contents, and more.
iBooks Author is now officially deprecated. Per an email to iBooks Author users:
Thank you for being a member of the iBooks Author community. We have some news to share with you about the future of book creation.
Two years ago we brought book creation into Pages. With key features such as the ability to work on iPad, collaborate with others on a shared book, draw with Apple Pencil, and more, Pages is a great platform for making books.
As we focus our efforts on Pages, iBooks Author will no longer be updated and will soon be removed from the Mac App Store. You can continue to use iBooks Author on macOS 10.15 and earlier, and books previously published to Apple Books will remain available. If you have iBooks Author books you’d like to import into Pages for further editing, we have a book import feature coming to Pages soon.
There are two important phrases that I want to highlight. First “You can continue to use iBooks Author on macOS 10.15 and earlier”. This phrase indicates, at least to me, that iBooks Author will not work on macOS 10.16. It is possible that it will work, but may stop working and if that happens, there will be no support.
The second phrase to highlight is “If you have iBooks Author books you’d like to import into Pages for further editing, we have a book import feature coming to Pages soon”. This is a good move. Once available, it will help users be able to keep updating their existing iBooks Author books, albeit in a new editor. As far as we know now, when you import an iBooks Author book into Pages, it will become a Pages document and you will not be able to publish them as iBooks Author books.
This is not a real surprise. Apple’s iBooks format did not take off as a way of publishing. While the tool was easy enough to use, it was proprietary to Apple’s platforms and no other vendors were going to try and read the books. Furthermore, there was never an iBooks Author app on iOS, so you could not create books on the device you were going to read them on. You could preview them on device, but not create or edit them. Additionally, there was no way that Apple would move iBooks Author to iCloud for collaboration and sharing. That would be too much work for not much result.
I did not mind using the app to create books, however, even I stopped using it to publish my books in 2017. Instead, like so many others, I moved to the ePub format for my books. This is a standard and if the file is DRM free, it can be used on other devices and services. It is much easier, particularly for independent authors, to be able to create a book once and use that file to upload to various stores.
Apple has created a page that will help you transition from iBooks Author to Pages for creating books. There are some limitations that I have found with Pages, but they are minor.
Overall, I think it makes senses to focus on a single application that can work across all of Apple’s platforms, and that app is Pages. One things that is not clear though, is how long the Apple iBooks will be supported by the Books app on iOS, iPadOS, and macOS.