Did you know that you can make ebooks right on your iPad? You can open up an application bring images and text in from other applications on your iPad, arrange them how you want them to be and the end result will be an e-book that you publish into the iBook store. You can make iBooks that you can sell or you can make iBooks that you can give away, whatever you prefer.
Testing an iPad Application to make an actual eBook
I’ve been testing out some of these applications for making eBooks and the one that I have downloaded and paid for is called Book Creator. It has a simple interface which makes it easy to use. The other side of that of course is that it is a little bit too simple and it doesn’t do enough, considering the price of it. There are other e-book creators out there and I may have to check them out to see if they are better in terms of what they can do.
The e-book ePub format is quite strict, for example it is difficult to set up text to flow around an image, images have to be inline. Alignment of text and images is something that you can do quite easily if you’re using Pages. With Book Creator what you have to do is to split your text into smaller text boxes, so that you can have one text box which will go to the side of your image. Then you put the rest of the text so that it flows on downwards after the image has been inserted. So it is possible, but completely manual.
Getting your text onto the pages of your eBook
When you put text into Book Creator, if it is a large piece of text, it will flow right off the bottom of the screen and you will be wondering how on earth, you are going to get it to fit onto your page. What you have to do is to scroll down until you find the blue dots which are the markers for the middle of the vertical sides of the text, so that you can change the shape of the text box. Another possibility to set up your text so that you can have it fit on the page, is to change the size of the text to something really small. When the text is really small you are able to see all of your text box and can shape it to fit the space where you want it. There should be a way to put the numbers in to set the size of the text box manually, but there isn’t.
Overflowing text has to be split into sections
Another thing that makes putting text into this application a little bit more difficult than using a standard word processor, is the fact that you do have to split the text into sections that will fit to the length of the page. In Book Creator I found that the way to do this was, to set the width of the text box and just see how much of the text I could keep in that particular text box. Then I would double tap to enter the text editing part of the application to select the text that would be overflowing, to cut it out of that box. The next step is to create another text box and paste in the text I had just cut out. Then I would have to do the same until all of the text was added to my document.
Formatting only possible per text box in Book Creator
Something else with the text editing that I don’t particularly like, is that I am not able to apply formatting to text areas that I have put in. Perhaps I want to have a line of text as a level 3 header, or I want it to be in bold so that it stands out as a header. The problem is, is that with this application it is not possible to format just one part of a text area. To be able to make titles for parts of the text, I had to separate the text out into a text box of its own. Then I was able to apply the formatting to that text box.
It really shouldn’t be that difficult to be able to apply formatting to certain parts of the text, as the underlying technology of the e-book format is HTML. Although adding text is something that needs to be improved upon, adding images to an e-book with Book Creator is much easier. Take the images from the Photo Roll of your iPad and resize them as you see fit once they are in. You can’t do any rotating of an image, which is a bit of a shame, but you can make images bigger or smaller, no problem at all.
Putting the assets of your book in order on the page
With the items that you have included in your e-book, when you have selected something, you can tap on the Inspector icon in the menu bar at the top. Within the inspector in Book Creator you can change the size of text, make it bold, italicised or underlined. You can change the font and the colour of the font. If you want to have a background colour for just that text box, then you can do that to. You can move items to the front or the back and generally that would be used to put an image behind some text.
Setting up the formatting of the eBook in Book Creator
Also within the inspector you can set the formatting for the page. You can set a background colour for the left side and also for the right side of the page separately. Then you have the editor settings set up, to show guides, snap to guides and snap to grid. Mind you I couldn’t see how to turn on the grid in order to be able to see it. Get the book creator app for the iPad