WPA presenting at Digital Book World 2018

WPA Consulting Presents the Next Step for Digital Book Publishing at Digital Book World 2018
See a Survey of Next Generation Interactive Books Design Tools at DBW 2018 on Oct. 2

Bethesda, MD, September 13, 2018 – Ebooks have evolved over the last few years from static content to engaging, multi-touch experiences. This has happened because there are now more tools to design enhanced digital content material. At DBW 2018, WPA’s Stephan Beauchesne will be presenting four leading software solutions as well as provide a peek into the future with a new interactive book development platform under construction.

Visit the Digital Book World Website for information on the program, and on WPA’s Session #236. 

More software options

Besides reviewing iBooks Author, the software that helped launch the multi-touch ebook experience, the session will cover tools that have found a niche in the ebook development space: 3D Issue Flipbook, Kotobee Author and Pressbooks, the latter being a WordPress-based platform for publishing ebooks.

The future

Do not miss the chance to hear about what WPA calls the future of the interactive ebook development and publishing. You will be able to take a sneak peek at the platform WPA is developing which we believe will be a revolution in the same way as iBooks Author did when it launched in 2012.

To hear more, attend our presentation:
Constructing Interactive Books: The Next Step For Digital Publishing
Stephan Beauchesne (Principal, WPA Consulting)
Oct. 2, 2018 from 3:45 PM – 4:30 PM
Session #236

WPA Consulting Virtual Press Office

Flipbooks: The future of digital content?

We’re big fans of Apple’s iBook Author, the enhanced ebook development software used to create iBooks that can be viewed on any Apple device. The tool is very powerful in and of itself, but what makes it a truly exceptional development platform is the ability to add custom widgets, which are essentially small apps running inside the iBook. There is really nothing that allows developers to create engaging interactive publications that make your content come to life they way it does.

As much as this software is in many ways ahead of its time, there are two main issues we encounter when proposing this service to our clients.

  1. Limitation to Apple devices: The software produces an iBooks file which can only be viewed on Apple devices. In many cases, that’s not a problem. Some companies have adopted iPads, iPhones or even Apple computers as their default tablet, smartphone or computing device. But that’s certainly not the case for the general public: There are a multitude of Android tablets and smartphones as well as PCs and Chromebooks in use. These users wouldn’t be able to use the iBook you spent so much time and money developing.
  2. Apple support for the iBooks Author software: This is becoming an increasingly valid concern. The software came out in January 2012. Since the first release, there have been only a few enhancements to the software. The last major update was almost 2 years ago with the addition of a new template allowing the creation of ePubs, the standard markup language for traditional electronic books. Unfortunately, the resulting ePub file is not compatible with any e-readers we tested, especially if the ebook contains interactive features (e.g. image galleries and custom widgets). It is, however, fully compatible with Apple devices. But that defeats the purpose, no? Why not simply create a full-featured iBook if it’s going to be working only on Apple devices – Apple missed the mark on this one.

So, with that in mind, we have been actively looking for a tool that will allow us to create engaging ebooks (as opposed to basic text and image ePubs) for our clients. We had been eyeing 3D Issue for a while. The Irish software firm has been developing a software platform to create PC-based flipbooks for a while. These publications were becoming ubiquitous, but the quality of the interactivity really lacked behind what could be done with iBooks Author. This changed late last year with the most recent release of the software. It was now possible to create a dynamic, interactive and engaging ebook that approaches the quality and polish of iBooks, with the advantage that it can be viewed on multiple devices and operating system. Could this be the tool that would replace iBooks Author?

We decided to join the partner program and got to work on our first two flipbooks: A branding and style guide for a large international organization, as well as an annual report for an internal initiative at another organization (the latter one will be published in the summer). We are excited with this new opportunity, and although we will still embrace iBooks Author for Apple device projects, we are now going to market Flipbooks as the future of enhanced ebooks.

Contact us for a free analysis of your business content and publications to see if iBooks or flipbooks are for you.

Launched iBook for leadership coaching

What do you do to stand out from the competition? Certainly, quality of service is key, but in the world of executive coaching, your reputation as a leader is extremely important. You achieve that leadership through experience and results. What do you do once you have established yourself as such a leader in your field? You need to look into cutting edge tools to further stand out. Such an organization reached out to us to help them take their printed material and bring them to a whole new level.

We developed an enhanced, interactive digital tool, which clients can use to keep notes and perform exercises and tasks as part of the coaching engagement. The result was an interactive, dynamic and engaging app-ebook hybrid viewable on iPads.

Although the iBook reader comes with its own built-in note-taking tool, the client wanted to have the ability to email notes and comments to the coaches. We came up with a custom app for this special task, making the ebook a living document which can be referred to throughout the engagement. We also enhanced the material with engaging activities to reinforce the concepts covered.

Contact us to learn more about our digital content app-ebook hybrids and the business uses for this technology.

iBook for branding style guide

When our client was developing a new set of publishing guidelines, they wanted to reach as many of their users as possible. Conventional methods wouldn’t be enough to attract their attention. We went beyond the traditional print and PDF versions of their style guide, by creating an enhanced ebook version, using Apple’s iBook format.

This interactive version not only contained all the text and images of the traditional publication, we added a few twists to make the guide standout: An interactive color palette picker and extensive use of image galleries to show many more examples of templates than the print version could show.

The enhanced ebook was very well received by the users who were impressed with the results.

Top 3 ways to use enhanced ebooks in business!

The plain, text-based ebook has evolved over the years, but ebooks are generally associated with textbooks, novels or children’s books. We rarely hear of ebooks used in business context. But this changed drastically with the release of Apple’s iBooks Author 4 years ago. We could now add interactive elements, and multimedia to create rich, engaging ebooks that have a place in business.

Here are 3 ways  to consider using ebooks in a business context:

1. Digital sales material

To remain competitive, organizations need to keep their sales binders up to date and filled with information that will give their sales team a competitive edge. During a sales calls, staff will be using multi-media such as videos, animations and image galleries, in addition to the usual sales material like brochures, presentations and price sheets. And all of these features will be part of the enhanced ebook.

2. Studies with engaging charts and tables

Studies tend to be published as PDFs, which are often the exact replica of their print sibling. With enhanced ebooks, interactive charts, tables, timelines, and other tools can be added to provide further details and engage readers.

3. Training material

When training their employees, providing them with basic printed material or even some e-learning modules will usually ensure that the material is forgotten. Supplement your course with an enhanced ebook version of the material so that multi-media and interactive widgets are available even after the course is finished. The ebook as supporting material ensures that your employees better retain the course material during and after the class.

There are more ways to use enhanced ebooks, but for many organizations, these three should probably be a starting point when considering using enhanced, multi-touch ebooks as part of their publishing process. Follow-us on twitter to discover new ways to use ebooks in a business context.

Happy birthday to Apple’s iBooks Author: Four years old already!

Released on this date four years ago, iBooks Author was Apple’s way to re-invent the textbook. With its built-in interactive widgets, multi-touch experience and ultra portability, the initial interest in iBA was considerable. It go an original boost by having been adopted by many of the major textbook publishers who converted their print version into engaging digital format.

New markets for ibooks

In the mean time, iBA’s reach to other areas of interest expanded, and soon the entertainment business, novelists, think tanks, marketing and sales departments, international development agencies, and a wide variety of other fields, started to produce cutting-edge enhanced ebooks. iBooks Author was now used for a large multitude of purposes and audiences. As this was happening, developers took advantage of the HTML widget feature to create mini apps that can be placed inside an enhanced ebook. These, and other built-in widgets are what makes iBA a very important software for digital publishers.

The software has gained wide acceptance, but it is still somewhat a niche product, which is unfortunate. Its ability to allow authors and developers alike to publish interactive ebooks has created a loyal following. The first iBooks Author conference was held in October 2015, in Nashville, TN, and the organizers have already announced that the Conference will return in October 2016.

Support and updates

Apple has been somewhat inconsistent in its support for the software, and many users and advocates have noticed. However, the biggest hurdle has been the lack of a reader app capable of using .ibooks files outside the Apple community. If a reader would be made available for Android (at least the last flavor) and Windows, the acceptance level would go through the roof. Even though iPads and iPhones represent a large portion of the portable device market, it is still sometimes an uphill battle to develop a product that is not universal.

Nonetheless, iBooks Author has evolved slowly but surely, with updates a couple of times a year on average. If Apple continues to improve on important features, especially producing epub ebooks, then iBooks Author should be around for its teenage years and more.

Enhanced digital books as sales support material

Sales teams use all kinds of material and resources on a sales call. Usually these include large binders of printed brochures, price lists, photos, etc. Although highly portable and easy to use (if well-organized), these binders can get cumbersome to log around. Also, their printed nature make them hard to update on an efficient basis.

But the biggest disadvantage is that they can’t provide any kind of multimedia. Imagine a sales binder that can show videos of certain aspects of a machine, or photo galleries used to display large amounts of images. How about a price configurator, or a way to guide a potential buyer through the purchasing decision process? You may have architectural drawings that can be zoomed in to see in greater details and interactive images that display additional information when a label is activated. These are all possible with enhanced ebook technology.

Ebooks have evolved over the last few years to become these powerful hybrid books that more resemble apps while keeping book features like table of content, glossary, note taking, highlighting, and linear reading. What has changed is the ability to embed all kinds of tools and multimedia elements right inside the ebook.

These widgets as they are known are activated as the reader taps (or clicks) on the widget image or icon. Suddenly instead of trying to explain an engineering concept from static drawings or photographs, you use animations and videos to bring your content to life.

Your sales staff is being more efficient and your sales cycle is shortened in the process.

Nice Oak launches Widgets Hub

On October 8th, at the iBooks Author Conference in Nashville, TN, Nice Oak launched a new ebook widgets marketplace. This is the first time widget developers will be able to sell their widgets to ebook authors and designers.

More information can be found on the Widgets Hub Website.

Nice Oak sponsors iBooks Author Conference

Nice Oak is proud to be a sponsor of the first iBooks Author Conference to be held in Nashville, TN, October 8th to 9th.

The conference will bring iBooks Author users from across the world to share their experience with iBooks Author, the Apple software used to develop ebooks. It’s a chance to attend great presentations on a variety of topics related to producing iBooks, ebooks and widgets.

Nice Oak is scheduled to present on business widgets on October 9th.  The presentation will provide an overview of custom HTML widget development tools and platform and will demonstrate example of business-oriented widgets.

Nice Oak will also take this opportunity to make a major announcement for a new platform that will put together Widget developers and iBooks authors. Stay tuned for more…

Math widget for iBook on Arithmetics

Nice Oak created a pretty cool interactive widget that was used in an enhanced ebook called “Arithmetic Made Understandable”, authored by John L. Hank, a retired math teacher. The ebook is available as a free download on the Apple iBookstore: http://apple.co/1HcG3xy

“I must also give enormous credit to Stephen Beauchesne who single handedly created the arithmetic interactive widget(s) that appear uniquely here for the first time,” said Mr. Hank in the iBook’s dedication section.

This will be the first of many widgets added to the iBook as new versions of the publication are made available.