Make Your Content A Digital Book– Whatever It May Be!

The Book Launch program encourages those creating textbooks, lab manuals, and other teaching or learning materials to create them as digital books and affordable resources for students, faculty, and staff in the academic world. However, the Book Launch Team’s scope is not limited to just those who are creating materials for higher education, and is certainly not exclusive to only those creating books from scratch.


It is important to remember that iBooks Author includes many tools to help those with pre-made materials to reimagine printed books into reader-friendly, interactive digital books.  In addition to the environmentally friendly format, digital books provide many advantages, such as cheaper retail prices (if sold for profit at all) and interactive widgets print books cannot offer.

If you are interested in creating your own digital book–either from a previously printed book or completely from scratch–check out other resources such as the ODEE Resource Center to learn more about our Book Launch program!  Or, for an opportunity to join our next cohort, fill out an application on the ODEE website.

Call for Second Book Launch Cohort Proposals

Apply Now for the Spring 2015 Book Launch Cohort!
Applications for the spring Book Launch cohort are now being accepted. The Book Launch program provides an opportunity to write and produce digital texts with ODEE to be used in the classroom and beyond. Accepted proposals will become part of a cohort, which is a group of teams or individuals from around the university who are each completing a digital book during the Book Launch project cycle. All members of the cohort will work together to provide feedback and support each other throughout the process. They will also attend two bootcamps together during the five month period, complete a project plan, get 1:1 and group training from ODEE.

Selected projects receive up to 80 hours of ODEE staff expertise and financial resources including $500, with a 1:1 department match totaling $1,000. They will also receive a MacBook Air to use throughout the development of their book. Finally, ODEE will provide any additional equipment, training and support to facilitate book production throughout the project lifecycle.

Instructors interested in the Spring 2015 Book Launch cohort are encouraged to register for the information session Thursday, Oct. 23 in the Stillman Hall Digital Union (145) or complete an application.

The deadline to apply is November 7, 2014. 


Bootcamp #2 Recap

We are thrilled to report that Bootcamp #2 was a success!  Our digital book authors are making significant progress creating new, innovative ways of displaying their information.  The five projects: 4-H Leadership Roadtrip, SPARK, Principles of Weed Ecology and Management, Microbiology 4000 Lab Manual, and the Graduate Astronomy Series have come a long way in their 3 months with us, and we can’t wait to see their final creations.

In our second bootcamp on October 10th, our digital book authors worked on their respective projects as well as offered feedback to other projects. Our members have created innovative layouts, movies, widgets, and more!  Click on the video below to take a look at this brief clip of the Weed Ecology and Management book by Bruce Ackley:

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 1.25.17 PM

To create this amazing video, Mr. Ackley used the brand new Digital Union in Denney Hall (room 063), specifically the green screen recording video room. To check out what else the Digital Unions on campus have to offer, visit their page here.

Analyzing your Book with Subjective Peer Review

While editing your digital books, it is important to remember that subjective opinions can also be constructive to your editing process.  Though many authors disregard subjective editing, understanding how your book is being viewed by others is just as important as editing the content to be grammatically correct.  After working so hard and long on your content and layout, it can be extremely helpful to gain a new perspective from a reader.  For example, after focusing on your layout elements so long, you may have completely forgotten to make sure your page numbers are viewable.

That is why we have created a subjective rubric to guide you in peer reviewing projects.  This rubric will allow for constructive, subjective peer review and editing to make your digital books even more impressive and reader friendly!

If you would like an editable copy of this rubric, please request one using the contact form on our blog site or email Ashley Miller at


Analyzing your digital book with Objective Peer Review

During our second bootcamp on October 10th, we will be asking our authors to peer review the projects they have been creating over the past months.  Peer review is important to the creation of digital books because unlike the process for printed books, no editing or proofreading team is assigned for the projects. Turning to alternatives such as peer review can help our authors gain a fresh perspective on their work and allow them to continue putting out amazing, reader-friendly books.

We’ve created a checklist we hope will be helpful when peer reviewing each other’s digital books.  All the prompts on the list are objective and act as a general proofreading guide.  If you would like a copy, please use the contact form on our blog site to request one or email Ashley Miller at

Having trouble with something?

The ODEE Resource Center can help!  Our online resource center has recently published articles on iBooks Author widgets, how to get started in iBooks Author, details on how to use certain iBook Author program elements, and more.  Whether you are looking for help on which widget to select for your book or how to start a template, we’ve got you covered!  Just check out the resource center and all the help articles available- many even include video tutorials or step-by-step screenshots.  Remember to keep checking back with us on our blog or the resource center to stay updated!


Open image resources

Our Book Launch team has been talking a lot about creative commons licensed pictures and obtaining images from the public domain, so in order to help, we are giving you some resources on where to find them.

Here are some links to public domain/free of copyright restrictions search sites:

OSU Open Photo

Little Visuals


Death to the Stock Photo

New Old Stock


The Pattern Library



Jay Mantri

Public Domain Archive


Foodie’s Feed


Internet Archive Book Images

Here are some links to creative commons licensed photo search sites:

Creative commons search (may require attribution or other stipulations)

Superfamous (requires attribution)

IM Free (requires attribution)

Keep checking back to this blog and the ODEE Resource Center for more help links and articles!


Copyright laws can be confusing and intricate if you are unfamiliar with them. However, the Book Launch Team is here to help you understand what you can and cannot use in your digital books.


First, lets define a few terms. Copyrights, defined by the OSU Copyright Resources Center, are legal ownership or rights that allow “the right to copy, distribute, publish, perform, and display a work, as well as prepare derivative works” which can be applied to “any content created in a tangible format.” Fair Use acts as a defense against charges of copyright infringement by allowing the public to use copyrighted content based on four factors: the purpose you are using the content for (commercial versus nonprofit), the nature of the content, the amount of content you are using compared to the copyrighted content as a whole, and the effect of the content being used, including the value.

For example, in some cases Fair Use allows for content that has been copyrighted to be able to be used without having to receive permission because of the purpose, like nonprofit use and educational purposes.  This is extremely useful for digital textbook authors so they are able to use various content, typically images, without having to get the permission of the creator. However, it is vitally important to remember that just because someone is using a copyrighted image for educational purposes, it does not mean it is automatically Fair Use; rather, this is only one of the four factors considered when judging Fair Use. Here are a few links to determine if your content is eligible for Fair Use:

In addition, be sure to check out the OSU copyright resource video on Fair Use here and this copyright chart.

It is also important to understand the public domain.  Content in the public domain is free for anyone to use for any purpose and does not have a copyright. This content may have been copyrighted at one point and the copyright expired. Here are a few resources to help you understand the public domain:


Content may also have a Creative Commons license, which is an alternative to traditional copyright, and allows use of the content with some restrictions, such as requiring attribution, or limiting use to non-commercial projects. Learn more about Creative Commons licensing:

Check out the OSU Open Photo blog to see our growing collection of public domain and Creative-Commons licensed photos to use in your projects!

Jessica Meindertsma, Rights Management Specialist from The Copyright Resources Center at OSU Libraries and the Health Sciences Copyright Management Office, will be joining us for the first Book Launch Bootcamp to answer questions about content and copyrights.

Common Tools Used to Create the Most Popular eBook Formats

As the demand for digital books continues to increase, new programs are being created to meet this rising demand.  ePubs, short for Electronic Publications,  are “the distribution and interchange format standard for digital publications and documents based on Web Standards“, created by the International Digital Publishing Forum.

iBooks Author is an app that ODEE and the Book Launch initiative uses widely, due to its many interactive features and ease of use for both the author and the reader.  Alongside iBooks we encourage authors to develop alternative formats, and programs are available as resources to those who wish to use them. One of these tools is Calibre, “a free and open source e-book library management application developed by users of e-books for users of e-books,” which allows authors to create ebooks in many formats.

Screenshot of a gray, blue and red book page with embedded video and fixed layout, created in Apple's iBooks Author app.

Example of a book created with iBooks Author for iPad and Mac.

Adobe InDesign is another great tool we use to create digital books. When using InDesign, authors have the opportunity to use tools within the program that vary the layout, which may not be available in programs such as Word or Pages. For example, in InDesign, authors are able to create various shapes and lines, adjust and manipulate photographs, and create repeating design elements from scratch. Check out this video to view all the actions possible with InDesign.

Another option to be considered is creating a digital book accessible via kindle through Amazon’s Kindle Publishing Program.  This program allows for authors to create their own books in a digital format, leaving the publishing to the Kindle Publishing Program on Amazon after submittal.

Don’t forget one of the most important aspects of these digital books is that they can be accessed in a multitude of devices, based on which program the author chooses. Some of the many include Android, iPhone, Nook, iPad, Kindle, Sony readers, Windows 7 and 8 Touch, and Mac and PC computers.

Be sure to continue checking our blog and the ODEE Resource Center for more information on digital books and resources!

What are my options?

Now that you know about the high costs of textbooks for students, are you wondering about other options that would allow students to have the resources they need, and keep more of their cash?


Although we are advocates for digital textbooks (being cheaper, better for the environment, and more convenient than most other options), many other options exist to help students with the financial burden of textbooks.  Among the options include the more well-known and wider used alternatives, including renting print textbooks, buying both new and used print textbooks, and selling books back to bookstores or other students in order to combat the costs of buying other textbooks. Another solid option that allows publishers to decrease the cost of books lies in the formatting, where many books are now being sold in loose-leaf binder formats.  While looking for the best price can sometimes trip students up in their search, the site helps students to find the best price for their textbooks before they buy anything.

buying-booksHowever, the lesser known options, that also might be the cheapest substitutions, include open resources and digital book rentals. Google Books, for example, is one of the free online resources a student may use to access their study materials.  The site acts as an online library where books have been scanned in for the use of students. Similarly, Project Gutenberg excels as a donation-based free textbook resource site for students, offering over 45,000 high quality online textbooks that have been put into the public domain.  Along with these open source choices, Kindle textbook rentals allow for students to have the reduced price of a digital textbook even more reduced by renting the textbook throughout the semester.

Although the costs of textbooks has only continued to rise for college students, the potential for students to find other, cheaper alternatives continues to rise as well.  The Book Launch Team strives to be a major facet of this initiative at The Ohio State University and continue to grow and influence students, faculty, and staff at other universities.