Can a School’s Yearbook Work as an EBook?

English: The iPad on a table in the Apple case

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Apple Rumors and Revelations

Last week’s announcement from Apple about iBooks 2, textbooks, and iBooks Author immediately grabbed my attention. This was mainly because I had been reading rumors for a couple of weeks that Apple might be doing something with textbooks; and since my school had implemented a 1 to 1 iPad program this year, I was pretty excited that the possibility of our students having their textbooks available in a iPad friendly format sooner than I had expected. I didn’t expect e-textbooks for my subjects to be available now, but the thought of that day moving closer had me pretty pumped.

So, when I got the email from Apple, I downloaded iBooks 2 and iPad U and did a little bit of exploring.  But this post really isn’t about that. It is about what was at the bottom of the email: the almost inconsequential blurb about iBooks Author.  I read the blurb about the program for Macs that lets you publish an iBook and then moved on because I don’t have a Mac. Didn’t really apply to me.

But maybe it could–or should…

Is It Time to Change?

Over the weekend I started thinking about iBooks Author and what it might mean for yearbooks.  This line of thinking is largely due to the fact that as a yearbook adviser in the middle of a push for a major deadline, everything seems to lead back to the yearbook at some point. It also comes from the fact that yearbook advisers spend a lot of time worrying about their yearbook budget and hoping that they will come up with enough money to cover it.

Could iBooks Author offer a viable alternative to the traditional yearbook?  If a school could use this to make the yearbook it might be a way to eliminate all those budget headaches yearbook advisers share every year.  A lot of schools have done away with yearbooks because of the cost associated with them.  I find myself wondering if that day may come for my school; I actually find myself wondering that more and more as the years pass.

We have all read, heard, or seen the effect of ereaders on magazines, newspapers, and bookstores. As more and more publishers move their products to digital formats, I now find myself asking if the traditional, hard copy yearbook should make a jump into the digital realm before it goes the way of the T-Rex.

The idea of basically self-publishing a school yearbook with iBooks Author and having people download it from the iBooks store is pretty enticing.  Yeah, Apple keeps 30%, but I am willing to bet that is drastically better than any rate any school gets from one of the traditional school yearbook companies–even if the school is lucky enough to actually make money from its yearbook.

With the elimination of printing costs (which are the biggest portion of a yearbook’s cost) books that lose money could shift to making money almost immediately. A yearbook budget would be reduced to hardware and software needs.

Of course, all of this would depend on the answer to one question…

Will People Go for It?

Are people open to the idea of buying their yearbook in an ebook format? Or could this be one of those ideas that end up of the list of dead yearbook trends like cd or video supplements? Would people want integrated video, links, slide shows, and other multimedia goodies if it meant giving up the experience of having their best friend sign their yearbook? Even if we decided to do this, should we use iBooks Author or something else?

These are some of the nagging questions I have now. I need to do more research and thinking before I come to any definitive answer.

What do you think?


24 responses to “Can a School’s Yearbook Work as an EBook?

    • Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my post–I appreciate it. The point you make is the main reason I don’t rush out, buy a Mac, and begin trying to figure out to turn our yearbook into an ebook. I think there is a lot of value in the kids having the experience of signing their friends’ yearbooks. I just wonder if the day will come when monetary forces will force the change.

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  6. You don’t HAVE to publish through the iBooks store. I’ve done school projects with my daughter using iBooks Author, and you can just export the final ibooks project file to your desktop and upload it a server somewhere (a Dropbox account, for example) and send out the link where everyone can download it. My daughter’s teacher has an iPad – so we just sent her the link and she downloads the work and opens it in iBooks. The problem is it’s iPad only…, so her classmates with Kindles and Nooks are out of luck.

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  8. Great questions about the future of Yearbooks. I own a traditional yearbook publishing company and do wholesale business with school photographers through Studio Source Yearbooks ( and directly with schools through School Source Yearbooks ( Until this year we only offered printed versions. This year we’ve started a new business called Yearbooks To Go ( specifically to offer our studios/schools the option to purchase a printed copy, a digital copy or both. Like you, I have a feeling all yearbooks will migrate to a digital format over time but the feedback I continue to get is that the kids still really want the printed version so that they can have their friends sign it. We’re in beta and testing right now and this year we’ll likely simply have iPad/iPhone, Nook and Kindle versions but no ability to sign pages. That functionality is definitely on our radar to add ASAP though. Best of luck with your yearbook this year!

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  10. I’m wondering how you’re doing with transitioning to non-printed yearbooks a year after you wrote your initial post? I am a yearbook advisor trying to make the same decision. I really want to go digital but can’t find exactly what I’m looking for in a program/company. The administration at my school wants to push digital but the kids are stuck on printed yearbooks even though only 30% of our students order them and even fewer are interested in working on the yearbook itself. With social media prevalent in the society it’s easier than ever to stay in touch and writing on facebook walls or tweeting is essentially the same thing as writing a blurb in people’s yearbook, but kids don’t seem to make the connection that they really already have a personalized yearbook (albeit a non-compiled one) via those social media outlets (picture, people, maybe video).

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  15. My YB class is putting together a printed (via treeing) and digital (interactive pdf thru Adobe InDesign) yearbook for our school. Next year we hope to create iPad and epub versions. Have you made any moves toward putting out a digital yearbook?

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