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This is pretty important. My school is currently in a stage of digitalisation that wants to get rid of textbooks and replace them with tablets in class. They are, however, contemplating on using iBooks Author to allow teachers to create content for students. And as we know, files created with iBooks Author can only be used on Apple products. Therefore, all students will be required to purchase an iPad for use in class, for any alternatives simply become impossible.

For many reasons, I disagree with this approach, and would like to see a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy. This is possible if a workable solution to the problem is found. Namely, the school needs a system that allows the following:

  • Easy(!) creation of digital textbooks by teachers. A lot of teachers aren't digital masterminds, and require a simple interface to create textbooks.
  • Ease of use for students. Students shouldn't be distracted by complicated interfaces.
  • The textbooks must be able to play multimedia. The textbook should be able to contain text, images, audio and video.
  • Content allows for use on tablets (iOS and Android primarily). Preferably, it should allow for use on any device.

The following are much preferred (the iBooks approach doesn't meet some of these):

  • Easy sharing. The teacher must be able to easily share the textbook with students and push updates effortlessly. Files are technically a no-no, but acceptable. The school already has a system for pushing files to students.
  • Free of charge. The school can't afford licenses for every student or for every teacher.
  • HTML5. Anything HTML5 is good.

Does anything come to mind? You can think outside the box, really, see if anything meets the requirements.

share|improve this question
First of all, the idea that Creative Commons (CC) licensing does not allow retaining copyright is incorrect. The difference is between "all rights reserved" and "some rights reserved." The author gets to specify what rights they retain. Take some time to look over the options available via CC licensing: Secondly, the question seeks a cross-platform solution citing the desire for a BYOD approach to reading eTextbooks created by teachers and others. Clearly, that implies following the ePub standard. Version 3 of the ePub standard enables the inclusion of audio and v – user223492 Dec 8 '13 at 19:43

There are two alternatives available for you. One is Open-Source and the other is a commercial product.

BookType (Open Source).

  • A cloud-based solution, so inherently multi-platform. Can be installed on a local server.
  • The Books developed can be hosted on the cloud, can be made available in any formt, with any license of your choosing.

Inkling Habitat (Commercial).


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I'd found BookType. And it seems all right, but I'm not sure whether it's able to embed audio and video. I've seen Inkling Habitat, too, but the documentation I can find on that is stunningly little. – Ruben Bakker Dec 7 '12 at 18:35
You can embed HTML(5) code when editing. Embedding audio and video is possible if you embed the proper code from a different service, like youtube, soundcloud, etc. Just an idea. – Geppettvs D'Constanzo May 3 '13 at 23:41

I am now using Booksmart by Blurb, and have heard from support that it actually is possible to embed audio and video to an electronic book - which makes me happy! I will say this, though: the software is very slow on my iMac G5 and is extremely picky about the pictures it uses.

Booktype, by contrast, is a joy to use. It doesn't have the limitations of the Blurb software and is fast and flexible. Then why not use it?

It depends on your goals. It is important to me that I retain copyright in my poetry, and Blurb will allow me to do this. Booktype is wonderful collaborative software, but everything produced in it is creative commons. You retain copyright to nothing.

I don't know if Booktype will let you add multimedia. If it does, it would be perfect for a collaborative book. The hardware requirements are modest and the program works well. I would not have used Blurb if I hadn't had the concern about retaining copyright. But then, although I'd really like to have multimedia in my iBook, it isn't absolutely essential to me.

I hope this helps with the original question. Kudos to the inventors of Booktype! Really.

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Actually, using open software does not make your content open source. Booktype's page linked above even states that you can assign any license to the books you create.

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True. If the teachers are creating the content, then the only copyright concern is between the school, the teachers and the students. It's generally been agreed that material a teacher develops belong to the teacher, not to his employer. I maintain the rights to all the curriculum I develop and license it through Creative Commons. I don't get any money, but I'll be damned if anyone else sells my work! – Marc Jun 11 '13 at 1:49

Mashable has a list that shows several alternatives to iBooks Authors called How iBooks Author Stacks Up to the Competition

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Welcome to Ask Ubuntu! Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference. – Seth Jun 10 '13 at 21:48

protected by Community Dec 9 '13 at 0:19

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