From Book Creator to printed book

Jane RossCase study, iPad, Publishing

Here is a masterclass from a teacher on how to print your Book Creator ebook and get a professional finish.

I have been making printed versions of books made with Book Creator on an iPad for many years. The app produces a really decent file for hard copy printing.

First thing to realise is that your video and sound files won’t work on paper. I know that sounds silly but people sometimes get upset when they first realise this. What you do get is a paper book which looks like it was purchased from a bookstore – it looks so professional.

A Book Creator book that has been printed

A Book Creator book that has been professionally printed.

So, how do you make it? Here are the steps that I use to create a file that will be ‘print ready’. This example will be a collaboratively written book as this is a great way to make your first book as a classroom teacher. It is much easier to divide the task up across the class.


Prepare the sections/chapters of your book. For this example, a Grade 2 class wrote a book called ‘Sustaining Our Earth’. Each chapter was written on 21 different iPads. The chapters were then exported and merged on one iPad to produce the final book.

Sharing to one iPad

After a lot of proof reading, send the chapters to one place so that they can be downloaded and accessed by one iPad. We used the app Showbie to do this. You could also use AirDrop or collect them in a shared folder in Google Drive, Dropbox or via a school server, whichever way suits your school’s digital environment.

Here are the shared book chapters all ready inside the app

Merging parts of a book

Nominate some students to create a contents page and a blurb. This can also be merged into the final book. There’s a nice opportunity here for your class to inquire into what makes up a book. You may also consider adding a preface and acknowledgements.

Next merge the chapters into one book. You will have to do this one by one.

  1. On the master book tap the + and select ‘Combine books’
  2. You can only add one book/chapter at a time. The book will be copied to the end of the master book.
  • Combine books
  • You can only add one book/chapter at a time. The book will be copied to the end of the master book.

Once the chapters are merged into one book you can easily rearrange the page order by dragging. Don’t forget to save your changes by tapping ‘Done’ and then double-tap a page to go back into the book. Don’t tap ‘Cancel’ or you will lose any changes.

  • Choose 'Pages' to see the page view to reorder
  • In the Pages view, press and hold a page to start the wiggle. Then simply drag the pages to reorder.
  • When done, tap Done and then double-tap on any page

Cover art

Make a cover. This is very important. The cover needs to connect and tell visually the content of the book. I sometimes choose a key image from a particular page or ask the students to create a design which can be voted on.

Text, image spacing and alignment

Proof read again! At this stage you will need to check that all objects – either text or images, are not too close to the edges of the pages as printing will need a little space. Often when a book is printed, the printer needs to cut and crop a little.

Some space is required to prevent words or images getting cut. It’s also a good idea to have a little space around any text so that your reader can more easily read your book. Placing text too close to an image will make your book harder to read.

Leave space around the text and don't put the text too close to the images or the edge of the page

Of course being familiar with design principals will also help your book. This class learned to use textures, layers, colour, font choice and placement to create their page layouts.

9 Design tips to give your book a professional finish

Make a test print first

Make a test print. I usually do this in black and white. This is to check that all text boxes ‘behave’ and that you haven’t missed any errors. Sometimes when you convert an ePub (Book Creator file) to a PDF, the text needs a little room so that it doesn’t drop an ’s’ or part of a word onto the next line.

To make a test print, you need to share your book as a PDF with single pages and share it to your computer. I haven’t tried to print a book directly from an iPad as I need greater control over the printing settings.

You could also AirDrop or email the finished file but some files (like this 224 page book) become quite large so sharing via iTunes is easier.

  1. Tap the Export icon beneath your book in the My Books screen and choose ‘Export as PDF’
  2. Choose single pages
  3. Tap the ‘Send to iTunes’ icon and follow the instructions
  • Export as PDF
  • Choose single pages
  • Send to iTunes

Printing your book with double-sided pages

I prefer to use the Preview app on a Mac to print my books. I usually print the covers (back and front) separately first on single pages. After that I print the inside of the book using a double sided print setting in the Preview app. Here’s how to do that.

  1. Open with the Preview app and choose ‘Print’
  2. Choose Layout for the printing options
  3. Select ‘Layout’ int the dropdown menu and choose ‘Short-Edge Binding’ for double-sided printing
  4. Select the ‘Orientation’ to match the book and choose ‘Scale to Fit’
  • Open with the Preview app and choose 'Print'
  • Choose layout for printing options
  • Choose layout for printing options
  • Select orientation

The print run

After you have checked your test print and fixed any last minute errors, you are ready for the print run. You can take your PDF file to a copy centre for printing.

If you have a colour photocopier in your school, you may be allowed to print it there and just get it bound outside. Another option is to spiral bind it at school if you have the necessary equipment.

I prefer to hard bind my books. In Indonesia where I live this is very cheap. For this class book, we halved the size to keep the printing costs down. This meant that we were able to print two books on one page. The copy centre was easily able to accommodate our needs for this and it is quite easy to do yourself using the settings in the Preview app.

The final book looks great and I have included a video here so that you can see it a little more clearly. The class was delighted to see all their hard work and we had a small book signing in the classroom on the last day of school.

22 Comments on “From Book Creator to printed book”

  1. Wow! Thank you for sharing. Did you use landscape to create the books? Also, do you have a preference to which layout is the best for printing?

    Thank you,


  2. Hi Richard,
    All templates will work for printing. You choose short-edge binding for landscape books because the short edge is being bound. For a portrait book you would choose long-edge binding. Remember for a collaborative book, everyone must choose the same template or you can’t merge the books into one.
    I am a Digital Literacy Coach at my school. I am so lucky to work with all classes. The super stars of this book are the students and their amazing teacher @nicolahennessy It’s not the book but amazing content that stands out here.

  3. What a great tutorial Jane next time i will try to publish by myself. Maybe with a less slightly small book!

  4. Hi, love these ideas, thank you. Is it possible to print the book not on a MacBook?

    Thans Emily?

    1. Hi Emily – yes, you could follow a similar process and print on a PC rather than a MacBook. Instead of Preview, you might use Adobe Reader to view the PDF before printing.

  5. Thanks for the shout out Jane. For a project like this support is crucial. The editing part was time consuming. So I suggest starting with a smaller project but also rally the troops with a publishing party and invite guests ( parents) to help! What I can say is all the time and effort was well worth it!

  6. You are still rocking over there Jane and Nicki! I wish I could be there this year too to see the amazing work your kids will do :(
    Jane, what kind of paper did you use to print the book? Is it normal A4 paper or some other special kind?
    Thanks for sharing all this and the visuals that go along with it!
    Hilal W.

  7. Hello Hilal,
    I just used the photocopy paper from the copy place. It is just normal A4 paper. I’ll be sure to tell Nicki about your comment here. Things sure are busy this year with all kinds of new initiatives happening!

  8. I am just trying to create a birthday gift for my 2 year old grandchild. I downloaded book creator thinking it would lead to a hard copy version and then spent more than 12 hours “creating” my book on my iPad. Much to my surprise, there’s no logical path from there to a hard copy book (I only want two copies and it’s only 13 pages long). The Book Creator folks gave me this link but I don’t know how to start. Can you tell me what to do with my pdf file of my iPad book?

    1. Hello again Linda,

      I’m sure you’ll understand, Book Creator was designed to create ebooks rather than hard copy books. So creating a hard copy book isn’t straightforward, but we have made it possible. If you’re not sure what to do with your PDF file, I would suggest finding a local printing company, and speaking to them about options for printing your PDF.

  9. Hi Linda,
    That’s what I do here in Indonesia. I take the PDF to a local photocopy shop and they print up the book.
    Or …
    If you have access to a photocopier yourself, you can print up the PDF using the double sided setting (from your printer settings in your computer) so that your paper prints on both sides. I print the cover separately on one paper and then set to print double sided from page 2 onwards. You will need to make the cover and back hard by laminating and then you can spiral bind it. I’m a teacher and our school has this kind of equipment. A copy centre would have all of these things too.

  10. A few questions:

    – the option to export as PDF is not showing in my Windows Book Creator app. Can this be done in Windows?
    – is there a method for centering text on each page?


    1. Hi Iris – right now there is no export to PDF in Book Creator for Windows, sorry. You can center text by editing the text box. Click on it so it has a border and then use the Inspector in the left toolbar.

  11. Thanks for the showing the way, Jane and Dan. After reading this blog, I’m unclear about this: the pdf file I should bring to the commercial bookbinders – is this the one I exported from Book Creator in single-sided pdf output? Do I still have to tweak the file through Preview on the Mac to re-size fit to paper, etc and save another pdf file from there? Or is Jane just showing how to preview, resize to fit for checking purposes and output onto our own printers?

    One of the questions the commercial people ask me is: what is the size of the book? I dont know. But I want it finished conveniently in A4. However, in printing off without tweaking, the Book Creator output does not fit exactly A4 and needs trimming. So the commercial people trimmed the pages and ringbind the book.

    So please kindly advise me the tweaking steps on how to produce the professional softbind book finish like those shown in Jane’s video, or do we leave that to more knowledgeable professionals to do the tweaking?

    Thank you very much.

    1. Hi Grace – I believe in this case Jane tweaked the PDF and used the new version with the printing company. However, it will really will depend on your local circumstances, and the printers you work with.

  12. Dear Grace,

    The first step was to export to PDF from BC. I have both printed the book myself on a color photocopier at school and taken it to a digital printer service.

    The tweaking that you speak of is simply choosing the paper size and ratio. It depends on what paper you will use. It was done via the printing settings in Preview. I prefer to print via Preview – just a personal preference. When I took the PDF to the professional printers – they resized. I have had the book printed at half size, at A4 and also at A3 to make a big book for Kindy. All the printer people did was make sure that there was enough for the binding and that the cover was a different ratio to cope with the lamination over the hard cover.

    I hope this helps you.

  13. This has some great information. Thank you so much for the extensive information on the post.
    I love the hard bound book you made for your class. Do you mind sending the company name or does anyone else know of a company in Australia that will do the same?

  14. Hi Liz,
    Any digital copy service should be able to help you. My dad has also printed books in Australia (Maroochydore) and he just went to the one near his house.

  15. Thanks for the article l. This is really awesome . Can you suggest me the best layout for printing????

  16. Hey! the text needs a little room so that it doesn’t drop an ’s’ or part of a word onto the next line.

    1. You may find you need to expand the blue bounding box around the text to make sure it goes fully around the text – then try exporting as a PDF again.

  17. I’d like to create a book and upload it to an ebook and as a print on demand on amazon…has anyone done that?

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