Five Things – 1.23.12

1.  Look Around You – this year marks the 10th anniversary of one of my favorite TV programs, Look Around You.  The show is a spoof of old educational films from the 1970s and 80s, and they nail the look and feel of those films perfectly.  From the fonts to the film quality to the props to the actors used, it’s perfect.  I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since this show was made.



2.  This amazing 20,000 Leagues cover was shared by c86.


20000 Leagues Under the Sea




3.  Apple iBook Author –

iBooks Author

As you may or may not know, Apple held an Education Event earlier this week in New York.  There, they announced a renewed textbook initiative, a new iBooks app and, most relevant to me, an iBook authoring program.  Anyone who’s tried to put an ebook together knows how frustrating the whole process is – there’s no simple program (that I’ve found) where you can set layouts and type and have it export perfectly to each ebook type.  It’s been such a maddening process that I’ve moved away from worrying about ebook versions of my books with illustrations, since the product never turns out being something I can be proud of or stand behind.  InDesign is the closest I’ve seen to being a “good” ebook compiler, but it still leaves much to be desired.

Well, I gave the new iBook author a go this weekend and I came away from it with mixed feelings.  On the one hand, Apple has nailed the layout concern.  It’s now incredibly easy to reliably set the looks of your pages and have them export to iOS exactly the way you’re expecting.  On the other hand, the app is clearly set to cater to textbooks and not other types of books.  You’re given a choice between 6 templates, all of which are textbook templates.  The chapter settings are rigid (my books don’t have chapters, yet I’m forced to give it chapters if I want to be able to publish anything). The export options are limited as well.  You’re able to export the book as a .ibook, not an ePub file. There’s also a little ambiguity in the license agreement, which is concerning.   All in all, it seems like a great program for someone who wants to specifically make textbooks on iOS. That’s a pretty limited scope.  There may some flexibility that I’ve missed with the app, or some flexibility that’s yet to come.  I certainly hope so, because the freedom it gives you with the layout is wonderful.  If you’ve learned any tips, please let me know!


4.  Hattytown – another gem shown in the US on Pinwheel. I wish I’d thought of this.


5.  Just So Stories – one of my earliest reading memories was reading Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories with my mother.  My favorite story was The Elephant’s Child.  I think about this book’s illustrations all the time:

The Elephant's Child

from “If”

“If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;”