by Joseph T. Sinclair
We are over seven years into the smart phone/tablet revolution. As is normal, the cost of creating applications (apps) has come down considerably. If you had the content, it might have cost you $50,000 in 2007 to create a book app. But sooner or later authoring software comes along to make building new software from scratch unnecessary.
Today with app authoring software/services you can take your content and create an app inexpensively compared to yesteryear. Nonetheless, as much app authoring software/service is very expensive, so is as much inexpensive. The disparity in pricing is considerable and difficult to understand, but it’s refreshing to find a lot of new reasonably-priced authoring software/service offerings appearing in just the last year or so.
One thing to look out for is free app authoring software/services. The freebies may not take your dollars, but they may take a sizable percentage of your sales revenue. Unless you publish your ebooks and book apps as a hobby, you’ll find it much more lucrative to pay out dollars each month for authoring capability than to give away a considerable percentage of your revenue from sales. On the other hand, there is some free software that is completely free and may be all you need to create book apps.
Monaca is an app authoring software/service worth discussing. At first blush, it seems competent and useful. It simply turns an HTML page into a iOS app, Android app, Win 8 app, or Chrome app.
One of the problems in using HTML to create a book app is that you need to develop internal navigation for the book. An app does not necessarily include any book navigation except that which you provide. This is in contrast to other ebook formats such as EPUB, Mobi, and PDF, which all are displayed in readers that provide navigation. Developing internal navigation in a HTML document, however, is not difficult, and you may be able to find some HTML book templates that include such internal navigation.
Monica is a programmers tool, and it’s marketed to programmers. It’s a full-fledged development program that will create apps that perform all sorts of functions just like any app you’ve ever used. As such, it’s is quite a bit more powerful than you are likely to require for making book apps. And to create such powerful multi-function apps with Monica, you will have to be a programmer.
Nonetheless, the fact that it’s a programmers’ tool does not mean that ordinary mortals cannot use it. Indeed, I have used it primarily as a conversion tool (a tool to convert a webpage into an Android app). It’s capable of more, however, even for nonprogrammers like me. Think of it as an HTML editor that will convert your webpage into an app after you finish the HTML.
How far can you go with Monaca before you run into tasks that require you to be a programmer? I’m not sure. In any event, you can get a free account to play around with Monica to see if it’s something that you can use. If you get serious about using it, the monthly cost is low.
As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, HTML5 is the upcoming platform for building apps and particularly book apps or apps that provide a substantial amount of text information.
Other app authoring software/services are available that enable you to do less perhaps but make authoring easier. Such software apparently is now called DIY (do it yourself) app making. Like anything else, before you buy you should do comparative shopping for app authoring software/services. Check out:
(This is not a an exhaustive or definitive list.)
The ultimate authoring software is Adobe CC at $50 per month. Since it provides you with about $7,000 worth of software, it’s a bargain. And the software is always up to date. Unfortunately, Adobe has discontinued its free provision of a service to convert your InDesign documents into iOS apps. Nonetheless, you can still use InDesign to convert your text into an EPUB ebook. You can also export an HTML document. Now with Monica (and other authoring software/services) you can easily convert your InDesign documents via HTML into iOS apps, Android apps, Win 8 apps, and Chrome apps.
What to look for in an app authoring software/service:
Makes iOS, Android, and Win 8 apps
Makes unlimited apps
Can embed diverse media
Designed for nonprogrammers to use
Provides user-friendly user interface (UI)
Payment does not include a percentage of your sales revenue
Payment is for time using software or service, not tied to individual apps
All in all, authoring apps gets easier and less expensive as the years go by. We’ve reached the point where it’s pretty easy and inexpensive to make an app, specifically a book app. You have to pick and choose your software/services carefully, but you can get the job done. In the future authoring software/services will become even easier and less expensive.
The author of this article, Joseph T. Sinclair, is the author of twenty How To books published by national publishers.
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©2015 Joseph T. Sinclair. All rights reserved.