Apple unveils iBooks Author, a Mac app for easy interactive e-book authoring

Apple’s (s aapl) Roger Rosner, VP of productivity software, showed off Apple’s new iBooks Author on Thursday at Apple’s special media event in NYC. iBooks Author is a Mac app that provides tools to help anyone publish interactive digital books, complete with rich media features.
iBooks Author comes with a template choose to help you get started quickly, and then you can click and drag your own media to add images, video, audio and other content to your book. You can even add things like 3-D models, which we saw demoed in the iBooks 2 unveiling earlier, as well as interactive elements like image galleries.
Keynote presentations can be embedded directly, so you can include slideshows right within the book. This should really appeal to profs and teachers who want to create their own courseware and customize content. You can also create and link your own glossary definitions for terms, which can include interactive elements, and even add JavaScript and HTML5 code if you have knowledge of that technology.
Author tools include the ability to preview your e-book creations live on your iPad over a Wi-Fi network, which is amazing in terms of being able to get instant feedback about whether or not something works the way you’d expect it to. Apple is really taking the sting out of e-book creation.
Amazingly, Apple’s iBooks Author is free, and is available today on the Mac App Store (for Macs with OS 10.7 or later installed). This will definitely help attract content creators to the iBooks platform, and could also seriously impact the ability of competitors to sell publishing suites aimed at doing similar things.