Giving publishers and professors a new way to create textbooks that cost less, Apple recently came out with iBooks Author.

“Available free on the Mac App Store, iBooks Author is an amazing new app that allows anyone to create beautiful Multi-Touch textbooks — and just about any other kind of book — for iPad. With galleries, video, interactive diagrams, 3D objects, and more, these books bring content to life in ways the printed page never could.”

Credit: iBooks Author

According to Mashable, Apple launched the app at its education event in New York City in conjunction with the revamped iTunes U and partnerships with various textbook publishers. The goal is to increase the iPad’s role in the classroom.

Apple’s current partnership with publishing companies such as Pearson, McGraw-Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and DK have also provided iBooks with material for launch.

With iBooks Author, self-publishing has never been this dead-simple. Here’s what you can do with iBooks:

– Give your books a great beginning with an Apple-designed template or create one of your own.

– Drag and drop text, graphics and movies.

– Customize with a click — it’s as easy as using a word processor.

– Add widgets. Add interest with 3D objects and animation that burst off  a page.

– Cater to people with disabilities with its VoiceOver technology.

– Share it on iTunes or anyone with an iPad.

Credit: iBooks Author

(For more info on tech specs, head over to TUAW’s blog post on iBooks Author.)

Phillip Schiller, Apple senior v-p of worldwide marketing, emphasized that iBooks Author can be used to create any kind of book— “anyone can create interactive books, from cookbooks to comic books”— and sell them anywhere in the iBookstore, but Apple also requires that content created using iBooks Author be sold exclusively via the iBooks store.

No matter how awesome this new service is, a few niggling questions remain:

Why are there tough license terms? If you want to sell your iBooks Author-created book app, you can only do so on iBookstore.

Why such limited export capabalities? It does not support ePub format.

Why leave out the iPhone and iPod Touch? Currently, iBooks Author is only available on iPad.

 

Still, we believe iBooks Author holds a lot of promise for teachers and educators. What do you think of  iBooks Author? Let us know in the comments.

Watch out for our upcoming post on iBooks 2!