Introduction to iBooks Author

Creating engaging interactive books can be a challenging task that necessitates not only command of text and graphics production, but also specialized authoring environments for video, animation and sound, as well as programming experience for more advanced interactivity. Apple’s iBooks Author software streamlines the production of interactive books that combine text with a great variety of multimedia types. These digital books can then be distributed and read on both iPad and desktop platforms through the iBooks application. Leveraging my experience as the lead designer for E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth digital biology textbook created in close partnership with Apple, I will share with you not only the basics of the iBooks Author workflow, but also the design strategies we used to select different widget types depending on content goals and target audience. We will review numerous examples selected from the 500+ widgets we created for this seven volume book. By the end of the course you will not only be able to create your own interactive book, but also understand how multimedia widgets are effectively woven into the reading experience.

Learning Objectives:

  • Strong understanding of what an iBook is and how it is different from an eBook
  • Familiarity with iBA’s capabilities to assess whether it is the right tool for your project
  • Proficiency with basic iBA production workflow
  • Introduction to how content and audience drive design decisions and multimedia production in iBooks Author.
  • Preview work on iPad and in the iBooks desktop application


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Advanced iBook Widget Design with Maya nDynamics

This behind-the-scenes look at how we created the Herbivore Carnivore Dentition Widget for the iBook, E. O. Wilson’s Life on Earth, will demonstrate the principles of creating dynamic simulations using Maya nDynamics. You’ll learn how to apply nParticle fluid dynamics and nConstraints through a gelatin-like meat simulation, as well as the utility of nCloth and nRigid colliders, through a leaf-clipping simulation. You’ll understand how food mastication can be simulated using keyframed animation, nParticles and instancing. Alongside these technical step-by-step explanations, we explain the motivation behind the design of these simplified models that represent food and teeth, as well as how these animations can be further improved. Finally, we explain how all of these assets can be combined using Keynote and iBooks Author to create an interactive widget for an iBook.


  • Understand the use of simplified models to represent more complex objects.
  • Learn how to use a combination of nDynamics techniques (nParticle fluid simulations, constraints, nCloth, nRigid colliders, and nParticle instancing) to create simulations of dynamic objects.
  • Learn how to use Keynote and iBooks Author to create an interactive widget for an iBook.