Advice on how to create an interactive textbook


(Betty Love) #1

I’m a co-founder of a non-profit organization (bricklayer.org) that developed a system for teaching coding and math by engaging kids in art. I want to write an interactive textbook that will make it easier for kids (and parents) to use our tools and curriculum. I’m a mac person who was very impressed with the Learning Swift ibook developed by Apple. I wanted to create a similarly polished book. I started with ibooks author, then used Hype to create a few animations, and was happy with what I could do with those tools. However, a majority of my target audience will not have an apple device, so I decided to switch to an epub, still using ibooks author. When I exported my book and opened it with (chrome’s) readium, none of the animations worked. Hmm. Then I realized how little I know about this area!

So…at this point I am thinking that creating my book in html is basically the only way to achieve my goal of having a multiplatform interactive product. Is this conclusion correct? If so, are there html book templates? I’m having a hard time finding something useful when I search for these. Most seem to want to convert a pdf to html or create a site for selling books.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

-Betty


#2

Are you sure? It looks like you found the main problem already. :smile:

I’ve been struggling with this issue for years…

You’ve already detected one of the biggest problems – compatibility. I wrote a book about Stencyl, and it didn’t do very well. It was basically an iPad only book, because it was built in iBooks Author – before ePub. While I like how it turned out, it didn’t matter. Stencyl runs on Mac, Windows and Linux. So, a large percentage of the target audience couldn’t read the book.

While the iBooks Author widgets (that Hype can create via project exporting) are great for creating interactivity, the support is limited – even as an ePub. I don’t know of anyone but Apple that supports it.

Another alternative, if you want to use Hype, is to create the project as an app – and then publish it under the book category in the iTunes App Store. This is a lot more work, but the iTunes App Store is probably more popular than the iBooks Store. (Although, the competition is greater on the iTunes App Store. I could hit #1 in a category on the iBooks Store, not so easy in the iTunes App Store.)

I don’t think this is a common thing. When you try to convert a traditionally print document to the web, it usually doesn’t translate well. So, either design a website or design a book. What’s the point of trying to make a book as a website?

If you’re focused on building a book, I think the App way is probably the best way to go. If your core files are HTML / JavaScript / CSS, that can be ported to other platforms as apps too… but battling with cross-platform compatibility is quite the chore. I’m working on “Circles with Grandma” right now, trying to publish it as an app, and it’s super tedious. There are issues with Chrome, Firefox, OS X webviews, iOS webviews… music doesn’t play, the JavaScript doesn’t work consistently… it’s a lot of work!


#3

Create it as a website with Hype animations. That will work on any device.