Book Creator is limiting for professionals, but for playing around with creating books, it’s well-made, easy to use and packed with potential.
Book Creator for iPad Review
by on January 22, 2013
When we first downloaded Book Creator for iPad, we were hoping to find that it was basically iBooks Author for iOS. It’s an app that allows you to layout text, videos, audio and images in a book layout, which can be exported to read in iBooks or even sold in the iBookstore. It uses the ePub standard, so the books would even be compatible with other reading software, and will be supported in the future.
It all sounds great, but we had to dial back those expectations quickly. Book Creator is nowhere near the professional tool that iBooks Author is, but that’s okay. It’s a simpler, more beginner-friendly way of creating books, and one that carves out its own place. It’s at its best as a way for kids to just dabble with creating books, learning how to lay things out and collecting things they like. It can also be used for picture books, or something similarly focussed on media, rather than text (for reasons we’ll come to).
Though it ultimately isn’t that much like iBooks Author, the principles are the same. You start off with blank pages (you can choose the kind of layout you want – portrait, landscape or square), and you fill them by choosing media or adding a text box. Photos and videos can be selected from your Photo Library, while audio can be chosen from the collection of music on your device or recorded directly into the app. Text is slightly different – you tap the button to create a new text box, then type or paste your words into the pane that appears – and it’s here that you start to bump against the limitations of Book Creator. You can’t completely control the size of text boxes, only their width, so the length is determined by how much text goes in them. This means that you can’t flow one piece of text between multiple boxes. If you put 2,000 words into one box, it will simply stretch down off the bottom of the page. If you want to divide your words between columns, you’ll have to manually split the copy.
Book Creator doesn’t really pitch itself for this kind of professional layout, so it might seem a little harsh to pick up on it too much, but the app actually does wander close to the professional in areas, such as providing guides and a grid that boxes will snap to, and allowing boxes to be moved in front of or behind one another on the page. Granted these are just ways to make it easier for beginners to lay things out precisely, but they stand in stark contrast to the omissions. You can’t, for example, style an individual word in a text box. You can make the whole box italic, but not just one word. There’s also no text wrapping around images, and no options such as drop shadows, or colour gradients. If you dig deeper, you can get around some omissions with creativity. For example, there’s no option to make images or text boxes play sound when tapped, but you can turn an audio object invisible and place it on top of the other box to get the same effect.
It probably feels like we’re being a bit down on Book Creator considering the score below, but it’s actually a testament to how good Book Creator is. We’re only picking up on these omissions because what’s there is such a strong beginning – the foundation is there for it to be iBooks Author for iOS, even if it isn’t at the moment. Right now, it’s really good for its target market of short-form words with plenty of images, and a bargain for the price. We’ve already got people in the office planning to use it with their kids, taking photos on a day out and then coming home to create picture books about where they went, and to prove how capable it is, we’ve used it to release an ebook of our iPod touch review on the iBookstore. It might not be a professional authoring tool, but it’s a fun one, with a huge amount of potential.
Download this app: Book Creator for iPad
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Review courtesy of Tap!