iBooks Author vs. Kotobee Author

ibooks

Today I’m bringing to you two of the highest ranking interactive ebook authoring software and comparing them side by side: iBooks Author and Kotobee Author.

In order to give you a complete sense of the two and the experiences, I dove headfirst into both software to get an idea of their learning curves. After that, I went back to learning as much as I could about both platforms, from watching tutorial videos to scouring the knowledge bases until I knew my way well around both. Finally, I attempted to create the same ebook on both software. I also decided to use my MacBook for both software, so that any differences in the experience will be due to the software, not the machine.

So buckle up, grab a cup of coffee and settle down, this might be a long ride.

The Specs

iBooks Author Kotobee Author
Operating System Mac only Mac and Windows
Software Size 600MB 173MB
Import Formats Pages

DOCX

EPUB

DOCX

PDF

HTML

EPUB

Export Formats Text

PDF

EPUB

iBooks

Kindle/PDF/Word Doc/Epub

Web App

Windows/Macintosh/Chrome App

Android/iOS/Windows Phone App

SCORM 1.2/SCORM 2004

Host Online/Export to Cloud Library

Interactive content
DRM None

(Available in  the iBooks Store)

Multiple types

(Depends on export format)

LMS Integration
Price Authoring is free.

Publishing and exporting fees apply.*

Authoring is free.

Branding apps, some interactive content and export formats require a paid license.**

For more details on how fees and taxes are calculated, scroll mid-way down Apple’s Banking and Tax info sheet.  

**Kotobee Author requires a paid license for the use of particular features, and some export formats. See Kotobee’s pricing page.

The Features

The features that both apps brought to the table were for the most part similar. However subtle the differences, the resulting ebooks will be quite different in terms of capabilities. Let’s start and you’ll see what I mean.

iBooks Author Kotobee Author
Templates
Images
Galleries
Hyperlinks
Questions
Videos
3D objects
Audio
Widgets
Container/Text Box
Charts and graphs
Pop Up
HTML source mode
CSS
JS

In-Depth Comparison

Exploring the merits and drawbacks of each capability and feature will require an ebook of its own right, so we’ll go through six of the most important features: layout options, media, questions/reviews, scripting, emulations, and export formats

Layout Options

When you start a new ebook in either platform, you’re faced with a layout decision.

Kotobee Author offers you two options: reflowable and fixed layout. Both can be exported as an EPUB or mobile, desktop or web app. The cool thing about Kotobee Author is that even after you’ve chosen which layout you’d like for your ebook, with every new chapter you get to choose which layout you want for that chapter, giving you ultimate flexibility.

iBooks Author, on the other hand, offers you a myriad of templates as a portrait or landscape fixed layout (for iBooks store only), or reflowable layout (EPUB only). While the templates option is a good touch on iBooks Author’s part, that the fixed and reflowable layouts are only available with one ebook format is unnecessarily limiting.

Media

Both software allow you to drag and drop media into your ebook. Nearly all the capabilities are the same. I’ll just highlight the few differences.

Images

iBooks Author provides photo editing and a nice option for interactive images. You can add text labels where readers can zoom in for a closer look and more information.

Image Galleries

The differences are nearly negligible here. iBooks Author allows you to give your gallery a title and description. Kotobee Author allows you to set the scaling, text wrap and select from a larger variety of gallery styles.

Audio and Video

One of the strong suits for Kotobee Author, is the ability to not only upload, but also embed both videos and audio into the book. With iBooks Author, however, if you’re not dragging and dropping the audio (or uploading it) into the ebook, it won’t work.

It’s a matter of opinion, but for me, I like the embedding idea. If a connection is guaranteed, it’s a great way to save on space, as ebooks can get heavy. Also, some video copyrights don’t allow you to download a video and upload it to your ebook, but will allow embedding. If your targeted video is on YouTube, there is a workaround for this limitation in iBooks Author– you can add a YouTube widget.

Questions/Reviews

You can add quizzes for your readers to answer in your ebook. Kotobee refers to them as Questions and iBooks refers to them as Reviews.

Question Types

Both Kotobee Author and iBooks Author offer multiple choice questions with text or image questions and single or multiple correct answers.
With iBooks Author, you can also add images as MCQ choices. The most 
stunning of the question types is iBooks drag and drop questions: text labels or thumbnails can be dragged to set locations on a graphic. Kotobee, on the other hand, offers the more traditional true-false questions and short answer questions. You may determine the number of lines that appears for the answer and set the correct keywords.

Question Display

iBooks Author displays each question individually. Kotobee Author displays the complete question set. Besides several color styles, Kotobee offers a few advanced capabilities. The questions can appear in a popup window. The order of the questions can be randomized. Kotobee can also randomly ask a set number of questions from a larger bank of questions that you provide, so the readers get a different set of questions each time–great for fun quizzes and exam security.

Checking Answers

The similarities of checking answers in each software ends with that they both check answers. After that, they’re worlds apart.

In Kotobee author, if you add a question set, then the set will be corrected when the reader clicks “Submit answers.” If you add each question individually, then the questions will be checked individually. In iBooks, each question is checked individually regardless. iBooks provides only the correct answer. Kotobee Author can additionally give a score report, an explanation, as well as a link to a reference for further reading. iBooks does not provide a score for question sets. Scoring options in Kotobee vary and allow for weighted point distribution so that harder questions are worth more points than easier questions.  

Reporting Results

iBooks questions are strictly self-study aids. The score reports will not be sent anywhere. Kotobee author offers three options: emailing results to a preset email address, to an email address entered by the reader, and LMS integration using LTI. What really makes Kotobee the perfect choice for educators, is the fact that it can be exported to a SCORM format. It can send the grades to the educators via email to let them know how their students are doing and what they’re struggling with.

Kotobee Author iBooks Author
True-False

 

Multiple Choice
Drag & Drop
Short Answer
Check Answers
Reporting Results

Scripting

One advantage that Kotobee Author offers is that HTML, CSS, and Javascript can be easily added and edited.  Which naturally means greater control and creative freedom for the author.

Emulation

For me, this little feature is probably the most fun. You can see your ebook app on different devices and machines, in portrait and landscape modes. Some of the phone models are a bit old, but it’s nice to be able to see what my ebook will look like on phone, tablet and desktop screens.  Unfortunately, it’s available in Kotobee Author, not iBooks.

Export Formats

The export formats are without a doubt Kotobee’s strongest point. Writers can create one interactive ebook and export it in many different formats,  both as ebooks and ebook apps. iBooks author exports only PDFs, EPUBs, and iBooks formats. Unfortunately none of which are accepted by Amazon, which means you’ll have to convert the file.  I prefer creating my ebook and keeping my options open when it comes to exporting.

Personal Experience

Now that we’re done with the technicalities, let’s move on to my personal experience with both software. 

The fact that iBooks Author only works on Macbooks was a negative point for me. Yes, I have a MacBook and have been a MacBook user for years, but at work we use Windows. Not having the flexibility to use the software on any machine is a big downfall for me.

Picking a favorite fluctuated with every phase of the project. I was initially impressed with iBooks Author’s templates and the beauty of the interface, but at the end was disappointed that after all my hard work, I can’t publish it on Amazon. Ultimately function won over form, as I preferred the wider range of options available coupled with multiple export formats of Kotobee.

Conclusion

In conclusion, depending on where you plan to publish your ebook, or even what operating system you use and who your target audience is, your choice of software will become blaringly obvious. In terms of versatility and a wider range of operations, I think Kotobee has the lead. Let’s face it, in terms of use, functionality beats aesthetics. Hope my experience helps you when you start creating an interactive ebook.

 

Read these posts.

The Essential Guide to Ebooks and Ebook Apps

Writers’ Retreats: The Place to Be

8 Strange Habits Well-Known Writers Formed to Write Better

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    • Karim

      Awesome article!