Making eBooks with Moglue, part 1

moglue1In order to learn how to produce a children’s book app for iPad I’m going to try to adapt Edgar Allen Poe’s short story “The Masque of the Red Death.”  Definitely NOT a children’s book, but I’m just doing it for fun.

It’s a personal project that I’ve been kicking around for years in various formats, originally conceived as a comic book. The goal is to have it completed for a Halloween, perhaps as a promotional piece.

The program I’m using is Moglue Builder, a powerful and easy to use program (or so it’s advertising suggests) for creating interactive children’s book apps for iPad and Android. The demonstration videos are impressive and some of the books produced with it (Thumbelina by Joa is the best one I’ve seen so far) are rich with interactive features and animation. If anything, it seems that users haven’t exploited the program’s full potential.

I’ll blog about the work in progress as well as the experience of learning how to use Moglue, for better or worse.

Moglue’s pricing structure is interesting (I wish it was less so). $199 for one year to publish one book for iPad ($299 for iPad + Android). For $1999 you can publish unlimited books per year ($2999 iOS and Android!), but I couldn’t justify the price unless I was capable of producing 10 books a year. I think the Apple store charges another $99 a year to market an app but that’s still a way off.

An interesting feature of Moglue is its preview function. You can try out your book in real time as you create it by previewing to your iPad over the local wifi network. It can only be seen over the same network as the source computer. It would be nice if there was a preview on my computer so I didn’t have to juggle devices. There’s no way to share the file.

The interface is certainly simple and uncluttered. Perhaps a little too much so. Some commonly needed functions, like “add page” are only revealed through key commands. It was very easy to import art and within minutes I was creating pages and interesting effects using my own artwork. They supply a lot of stock artwork and sound effects which are handy for placeholders.

The users manual is pretty spare. It’s clear enough, but if you need even the slightest bit of second level information or troubleshooting you’re on your own. Their tutorials on YouTube, “One Minute Onesies” are annoying and provide no more depth than the skimpy manual. I used customer support a couple of times and they were very responsive, even troubleshooting a file which was crashing.

The problem I’m having now is with something called “states.” It’s definitely the key to what I’m trying to accomplish but I just can’t seem to figure them out. It all seems so simple in the manual, but the screen grabs used to illustrate the manual don’t match up to what I’m seeing. (Full disclosure, no one else on the user forums seems to have difficulty understanding the concept). I’ve submitted a question.

Stay tuned.

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