Book Creator [iPad – $4.99] lets you design and build gorgeous, fixed-layout ebooks full of photos, graphics, video, music and narration. The result will be an ebook in standards-compliant ePub format. This book can be viewed on any ePub reader. The view you see here is from my iPad using the iBooks reader. It automatically displays a two-page spread when you rotate the iPad to landscape aspect. Not all readers can do this. Some only display one page at a time in portrait aspect so although this will still look good, the example below will suffer badly on those devices. That being said, the trend towards “enhanced” ebooks marches on and new readers will provide the capabilities to display them properly.
Book Creator is very easy to use. Drop a photo onto a page then resize and place it. Next add text boxes for titles, captions and story. Although there aren’t many formatting options for images, I can change font, size, color and orientation for my text. I am, however, limited to the fonts available on my iPad. Instead of trying to type the text directly into the app, I wrote the story on my desktop and brought it to the iPad as a plain text file. I then copy/pasted the appropriate text into the text box in my Book Creator work area. All images need to be in the iPad’s photo gallery before they can be added to a project.
Since I’ve got that scrapbooking gene, I set up most of the graphical elements in Keynote. Keynote slides are the same height:width proportion as the two-page spread so I built the graphics as a Keynote slide, saved it to a PNG graphic and placed it on the spread. In the first example, the image leaves space for the text box to be added from within Book Creator. In the second example, it’s one image that crosses both pages. When Book Creator converts the project to ePub format, this graphic will be cut in half and become two separate images – one on each page. If I moved the ampersand design element over to the left-facing page, I could probably get away with this layout on a reader that doesn’t support two-page spreads. These are the things you learn by experimenting.
I was tempted to make the entire book in Keynote – text and all – then dump each slide into Book Creator. It looked pretty good on the iPad, but the text is now part of the image so it’s neither resizable or searchable and there’s no hyperlinking. That might work for a child’s story or a photo book, but not for a serious family history project.
Want a look? Here’s Book Creator in action.
Book Creator is also available for Windows and Android. Learn more at http://www.redjumper.net/bookcreator/.