Why iBooks Author Should be Merged with Pages (hint: the iPad)

Posted on May 15, 2012

Source: apple.com

The paperless office has always been a dream of environmentalists and office productivity aficionados, but the reality has never lived up to the dream.

Part of the reason, I think, is that technology has not been able to offer solutions that are, frankly, as good as traditional paper. It’s just so easy and convenient to take a piece of paper and write down on it what you need to write. Moreover, for reading, it’s much more comfortable.

Now, in my line of work, we often receive; and indeed we often write, documents that need to be reviewed as well as used to produce the work and deliverables we have to produce. My defacto standard for reviewing documents has been to print them, review them and then apply changes either directly or as notes, comments or track changes.

But this feels like such an old fashioned, inefficient and cumbersome process! Surely, technology can deliver us a better workflow than that? Honestly, I think that the answer today is that it cannot, but I believe that the reason technology cannot deliver has moved from a hardware problem to a software one.

You see, computer screens are not ideal for reading for any length of time. However, tablet screens have been made just for this, so with the tablet we have a hardware solution that enables this workflow. So what’s lacking is on the software side.

Recently, I have been using iBooks Author to write an ebook. I have previously argued, and frankly will scream until I’m blue in the face, that all books written today should be written directly as multimedia ebooks for the iPad. The nirvana moment that I had was that if we are moving towards an electronic workflow, then the documents that we produce will increasingly be consumed on tablets so should be adapted to the tablet support that we will consume them on.

Today, if you write a document that is destined for paper, you use Pages (or Microsoft Word), and you lay something out that is generally static for letter or A4 paper. Yet the support format for the iPad is totally different. We measure in pixels, and we add in dynamic content, videos, pictures, illustrations and presentations into our documents.

Should we be using, therefore, Pages to create such documents? Ought we not be using a tool such as iBooks Author to create our e-documents? In the end Pages should probably subsume much of the functionality of iBooks Author, extend notes, comments and track changes to e-documents, and combine that with extensive iCloud services.

The over-arching theme here is that workflows are increasingly being extended onto tablets, and software solutions need to be developed to support those new workflows and allow the greatest possible effectiveness and efficiency.