Screen shot 2011 06 23 at 9 28 53 AM

Looking forward to the webcast I’m giving next Thursday (June 30th; sign-up info) on digital book-making tools. There’s quite a land grab happening right now, as software manufacturers—new and old—try to become the tool of choice for authors, small publishers, and illustrators. I still haven’t finalized exactly which software I’ll be talking about, but now seemed like a good time to share a selection of my research notes.

Tool Name Comments
DemibooksComposer iPad-based app gives authors a touchscreen-based development tool from which they can create an iPad app. You can do things like move objects to indicate motion paths. Ideal for kids books with lots of illustrations. In private beta, planned release later this summer.
My Story Book for the iPad Like Composer, this app lets you create kids books on the iPad itself—though with fewer interactive & motion capabilities. Includes basic tools for adding and manipulating text atop photos and illustrations. Beta launching this summer.
Aquafadas Plug-in tool lets you add interactive and multimedia enhancements to InDesign or Quark layouts. Good for complex layouts featuring a mix of text and images. In limited pre-release.
Active Reader Plug-in for Unity (high-powered game development program). Flowchart-like user interface lets you program interactivity and motion; especially useful for highly illustrated books like graphic novels.
Atavist’s Periodic Technology Authoring tool lets you add “Inline Extras” (e.g. pop-up character summaries, timelines, maps) to long-form articles that The Atavist specializes in (longer than an article, shorter than a book, they say). Export options include iOS app and stripped down Kindle files. Tool currently in private beta.
Moglue Desktop app (Mac or Win) for creating interactive iOS & Android ebooks, especially illustration-rich kids books. Open beta starting in July according to their Twitter account.
InteractBuilder Desktop app (Mac or Win) lets kids book authors create iOS interactive ebooks.
App Press Web-based tool for creating iOS apps. Early uses include photo histories and cookbooks. Web-based preview tool lets you share in-progress designs. Developer provides InDesign and Photoshop templates for preparing assets before importing into the App Press tool.
Leanpub Lets you use pretty much any blogging tool to publish an ebook. System accepts RSS feeds, HTML, or Markdown and outputs ePub 2.1, Mobi and PDF. Built-in e-commerce system takes care of sales for author and offers very generous royalty rates (usually about 90%).

This is by no means an exhaustive list. I’ve looked at, easily, a couple dozen entrants and the ones listed above are mainly there because my notes on them are ready for sharing. My goal for the webcast is to give attendees a guided tour of the main kinds of tools out there, with a look at what feels to me like the most promising tools in each category. Hope you can join in!

Via A New Kind of Book


  1. Except for Leanpub, these are all focused on the production of applications which imply certain, constrained, distribution systems. That’s fine but should be made clearer up front. I can see two good webinars, one focused on eBook-as-app and the other focused on EPUB. Those could be followed by a session on how to choose which is most appropriate to specific objectives that authors and publishers might have.

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