Apple to End Support for iBooks Author

Originally published at:

Apple’s education-oriented ebook creation software will receive no further updates and will be pulled from the Mac App Store. The company is encouraging users to switch to Pages, promising that a future update to Pages will be able to import iBooks Author files.

The general failure of authoring systems to have extended lives is one of the ongoing disappointments of personal computing in general.

What got me into computing back in the late Eighties was the excitement of HyperCard on the Mac and other systems on the Amiga. Creating beyond productivity or the mimicry of existing media, things that were new, arising from the platform itself. The Web became the vehicle for this but i do wish other options had flourished too.


Alternative Headline: “Apple officially puts iBooks Author out of its misery after a promising launch followed by almost no attention or improvement, leading to its stagnation and ultimate failure to the point where most people had probably forgotten about it by 2017”

Might be a bit long.


Yep, too long.

I understand your disappointment. After all, I wrote a book about iBooks Author, and was ecstatic when iBooks Author came out to see Apple provide an app that educators could use to build rich interactive textbooks. That said, the Pages reboot that gave us Pages 5 has evolved into a very powerful book creation tool by now (Pages 10), with an editing interface much better than that offered by iBooks Author, which feels clunky by comparison.

Apple had a choice of revamping iBooks Author’s increasingly archaic interface to match Pages and to offer the collaborative capabilities and change tracking that Pages now provides—an expensive allocation of resources—or to abandon iBooks Author and provide a migration capability for iBooks Author-created content. Apple has chosen the latter path. It remains to be seen whether Apple will continue to develop capabilities in Pages to replace the iBooks Author features it currently lacks or whether it will drop the ball again.


The article is not correct about iBA and epub. The ability to publish epub 3 format (in addition to .ibooks) was added to the app in 2015.

Apple’s unwillingness to create an iBooks reader app which would run on Windows and Android has always severely limited the potential market for the .ibooks format in any case. Kindle apps are available for all platforms.

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True but those EPUBs have to be created using one of the iBooks Author EPUB templates, which only support a limited subset of the iBooks Author widgets: popover, gallery, media, and HTML widgets.

Apple shows little interest in content creators. Their business model relies more and more upon content consumption. The promise sounds hollow based on past experience with low or no feature support for previously high functioning graphics, design, web, photo and video software plus several programming languages. Apple’s graveyard contains giants like MacPaint, MacDraw, HyperCard, Aperture and more.

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I’m not sure I agree with that. Macs and iOS devices come with Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iMovie, Photos, and GarageBand for free. These are all very powerful and full-fledged creation apps, far beyond anything that comes with other platforms, but importantly far beyond what we used to get with the Mac. That’s not to mention the completely free developer tools. I would have loved this back when I was a student and had to buy CodeWarrior.

No one is more disappointed by the demise of Aperture than I am (I’m still using it :grimacing:), but it was a business decision by Apple. There are loads of photo managers and editors available for the Mac (and iOS).


If this were even remotely true Apple would not have developed the brand new, super powered Mac Pro + monitor + stand that they clearly articulated as a system for content creators. What I think the strategy here is to make ebook creation even more accessible and easier for entry level content creators, and eventually make things easier for those that use iBook Author.

I was unable to quickly find either a solid number or revenue comparison for market share for iBook vs. Kindle sales, or even how many titles were released exclusively in either digital format. I think it’s safe to assume that Kindle has been relentlessly clobbering iBooks since iBooks was introduced. But ebook sales, whatever the format, never took off to be remotely as big as they were initially expected to be. Social media, digital games and streaming services are the problem. This is especially true among younger audiences.

But the ebook industry is at a major turning point when many publishers are planning to add more interactivity and audio/video content into ebooks. This could be a great opportunity for anyone to create a traditional or multimedia publication right in Pages, and even right on an iPad. And it will be a great opportunity for Michael to write a new book.


Yes I agree the Mac and arguably now the iPad is a marvellous creative tool with all the software and integration Apple offer. You can create content for sure and generally for free.

There’s something underdeveloped however about the overall nature of multimedia, interactive content, rather unbelievably to my mind. It is the state of authoring systems which I was lamenting.

Interactive multimedia was, back in the day (okay, the Eighties), what computing brought to content.

Now we have

  • apps, content led apps have flourished on mobile mainly.
  • websites, the primary vehicle for content of any form
  • ebooks, a class where long form text is still primary
  • digital magazines which were mostly interactive PDFs and seem to have died off.
  • games, yes I know a subset of applications but certainly on their own as a class of content.

The tools to create these have not in my opinion advanced as much as say photo editors, where a wide range of tools from the most simple mobile filter app to the complexity of a Photoshop or Capture One.

The most basic of authoring tools perhaps is keynote/PowerPoint. The most complex being programming and XCode. So many wide gaps in between bar website creation tools, perhaps Hype being the most interesting recent entry. Hard to identify a home for their outcomes other than the web. It all feels underdone to me, kind of a missed opportunity.


I think you make an important point, @tommy. I’m not wedded to this idea, but I think I’d argue that very little interactive content has been successful because it simply hasn’t been that attractive. We can have ebooks with interactive charts or even little games, but there’s never been one that’s so popular that it has raised the bar for what an ebook is. Even with Take Control, where we used my degree in hypertextual fiction and Tonya’s in communication to develop true ebooks with multiple reading paths, it was never clear to us that those efforts, while appreciated by readers, were necessary. In other words, if we’d distributed a flat PDF, people would still have bought it at roughly the same rate. Content was king, not the ebook trimmings.


I believe Adobe are to implement the PDF 2 standard next year which should allow for a lot of multimedia and interactivity (not animations though).

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