Sometimes there is nothing more frustrating than software designed to make something simple to do. That is if you already know other software that allows for complexity. I’m talking about my frustrations this week trying to use Apple’s new iBook Author software. Mind you I’m trying to use it for something that it’s not quite designed for but it should be a simple matter to adapt it to my task. Of course it’s not. Isn’t that the way of the world?

I’ve been working on Apple computers for over fifteen years now and I like them. They do a good job. Being a graphics guy I work in Photoshop, Illustrator, and inDesign all the time but I can handle any graphics program that’s thrown my way with a little bit time. They all kind of work the same. There is not much mystery to them for me and I don’t get overwhelmed by choices.

There is even a new breed of image editing programs that have been making there way into the photography world. Most of these new photo apps that are being made for the iPad, iPhone, and Mac are real easy to work. They do a few things and they do them well. It’s a golden age of desktop and digital publishing and there is a lot to choose from. Except I don’t like most of the Apple consumer aimed apps.

I hate iPhoto and barely have touched any of the other iLife apps. Maybe I’d like iMove if I ever wanted to learn video editing but I’d probably skip right over it to a more powerful program like Final Cut. The problem with most of Apple’s consumer creative apps is that they’re not made for me. They’re actually made for people with limited creative talents who want to get things done. They make things easier for people who have no idea what they’re doing by limiting what they can do. The programs are very good for beginners and dabblers who, I would guess, account for the vast majority of computer users. They’re made so that grand parents can use them with their young grandchildren. That’s not a bad thing but not what I need.

I’m more like the professional carpenter who’s been building houses for twenty years. Imagine, if you will, a guy who knows how to build a house backwards and forwards. I might use software to make my job easier but then software is released that lets anyone build a house. But in order to let anyone build a house a lot of choices have to be taken away because building a house is a complex task. The software has to only let you be able to build one of six houses. They might give you options like, “Do you want the bedroom on the north or south side?” but if you want to move the bedroom over six inches you can’t. It’s not in the playbook.

That’s where I’m at right now with iBooks Author. I want to move the bedroom over six inches but I can’t. I can easily do it in a bunch of other programs and have done it countless times before but I can’t get it done in this much simpler application. It’s not one of the choices I’m given because such a choice would make things more complicated for the average computer user. In empowering the masses to be creative this and programs like it actually take away from the ability of a creative person to be creative. It’s a weird thing.

What I was trying to do was make a comic book in iBook Author. More specifically a comic with some interactivity in it. IBook Author is really built for making and selling textbooks for the iPad but you can sell any book you make with it. Except you’re stuck with having to choose from about six text book templates. You can change things around such as moving the bedroom from the north to the south side of the house but if you want to move it six inches west that’s a problem. I spent way too many hours this week trying to figure out how to do the basic stuff that would take me all of thirty second in another graphics program. And I never figured it out. That makes for some frustration. I want to tinker with this scooter until it can race with a Harley but that’s not possible.

iBooks Author offers some interesting and easy to use interactive features that I think I can use to make an interesting comic book. One that I couldn’t make in the world of print. You can create picture galleries, drop in video, make an interactive photo, and other interesting stuff. If only I could lay it out in the way I want to but I can’t. They limit where you can put things to keep it easy for the everyday public but it’s driving me crazy. I wish Apple had some more professional software with such easy access to selling books in the app store.

That’s what this is really about. The gold rush that is the App Store. Not that I have any real hope to make a million dollars selling comics for the iPad but I have some ideas that I want to work out. I’m sure I could get them to work using html or some other program but that doesn’t seem as much fun as iBooks Author with it’s access to the app store. I’ve made plenty of comics that hardly anyone has seen and the internet hasn’t changed that much which is why the promise of the App store seems more interesting to me right now. If only iBook Author would cooperate with me.

Still I trudge on. It’s not like the idea I have would be done anytime soon anyway. It takes a long time to make comics. If I have the energy. I’ll keep working at it and maybe things will come together in six months or so. Who knows? Things change fast in the world of apps.