Downsize Your iBook using Keynote

I like to embed a lot of videos in my iBooks Author projects. These videos can often push the size of my iBooks up to an unacceptable size. One way I get around this is to create YouTube widgets in a program like Hype or using a web service like Bookry. However, this means students must have in internet connection to view the videos. Requiring the internet can sometimes be a problem which is why I like to try to include full videos when possible.

As it turns out, many of my videos are screencast tutorials. These often simply show a static screen with my mouse moving to and clicking a button to bring us to the next static screen. This can easily be reproduced with a series of screenshots put into Keynote. I use an Animate Action or Magic Move Transition to move a cursor from one location on the screen to another, or to highlight a a particular item.  Then all I need is a voice over.

Currently audio files will not autoplay on the iPad, but videos will. So in-order to add a voiceover I need to add in a video. Now this seems like it might be a bit counter productive as I was trying to not add a video in the first place. The video I make for this is tiny, consisting of only a solid background and recorded audio. I make these using Quicktime. Simply select “New Screen Recording” from the “File” menu and then drag a rectangle over a plain white portion of your screen when prompted. I discussed using a video for a voiceover in my video on Tara Maynard’s Interactive Math Practice Widget.

You can see some examples of my finished video replacements in an iBook on using Google Drive in education I made for my school last summer. The content is slightly outdated now, but you can still see how I used Keynote to replace screencasts. In this iBook I didn’t use a single video nor HTML5 widget.

I should note that videos playing in a Keynote widget will not have video controls, so there is no way to pause them nor replay them. With this in mind I’d recommend adding linked buttons to replay a slide as well as buttons to go forward or back as needed. The replay button was not something I added to the Keynotes in my book, but I will in the future.

I wouldn’t replace all of my screencast videos but I will be using Keynote more and more in the future to replace videos. One of the things I like about replacing videos with Keynote is you can easily have playback require student input to progress. This is important for two reasons. First is the student is more likely to pay attention if they have to click to continue and secondarily the passes can give time for reflection or note taking.

CK12 to iBooks Author

Finding the perfect textbook for your class really is an impossible task. Each one you look at is missing some critical component or if one does have everything, it uses an approach that you think won’t work with your students. Even if you somehow find the perfect book, it is typically the most expensive book you’ve looked at. In the end you end up selecting a book that is the best compromise of several competing factors. Not the best but instead, the least bad. The alternative is to not use a textbook or to create your own textbook.

With this in mind I encouraged the teachers of our freshman Integrated Science Class to create their own textbook for the first year of our 1:1 iPad deployment. This was a huge undertaking so I encouraged them to dive into ck-12 to assemble a series of books to use with their students. The books were saved as ePubs and distributed through iTunesU.

The ePubs, while very nice, have some limitations. The ck-12 materials often have videos and interactive elements scattered throughout. In order to use these, the students must leave their book and go onto the web. Not a big deal, but often once students leave their books many never make it back again. For next year we want to make the books more encapsulated, removing the need for students to leave the book to work with the interactive elements. Enter iBooks Author. The last update Apple gave iBooks Author the ability to import ePubs. Now we can take the work that was already done and repurpose it.


  1. Create flexbook on ck-12 and download as ePub (done already)
  2. Import into your iBooks Author template of choice. All of the content will come in as a single chapter.
  3. Create a new chapter for each of the chapters in your original ePub
  4. From your chapter with everything copy all of the content for a chapter and paste it into the chapter you created for it. Keep going until you’ve done this with all the chapters.
  5. Work on Formatting: All of your images are “inline” you might want to use the Inspector to change them to Floating or Anchored so you can put them where you want them to be.
  6. More Formatting: Edit the text/paragraph styles used by ck-12 to be something you want (totally optional)
  7. Create Widgets for interactive content.
  8. Export as iBook and distribute or publish
Point 7, “Create Widgets” is the hard part. iBooks Author doesn’t give you the ability to embed most web content directly. It does, however, give you the ability to add in HTML5 widgets. I typically build my HTML5 widgets in Tumult Hype. Totally awesome program. I haven’t looked at the newest update yet but I will probably buy it. They do offer an educational discount, making it much more affordable. A less nerdy, as well as free, way would be to use Bookry to make your widgets. Once we get some of the books converted I’ll post them here.
Below is my walkthrough of using Hype to embed a YouTube video in your iBook. You could use the same process for a lot of other web content as well.