A digital book offers its reader a number of practical advantages to carrying around a physical copy. Bookmarks in the cloud, definitions at your fingertips, scalable design, digital highlighting and note taking, weight and space savings—the list goes on and on. But at the end of the day, the choice to use one over the other just seems to be a matter of taste and preference. As a member of the OLG team and a designer of printed matter, I enjoy the art of book making more than life itself. There’s no denying the ease of use that a digital book presents, but sometimes a real-life book just can’t be beat. While a digital book has its advantages, they are more-or-less simply bells and whistles beyond the physical book.
But times are a-changin’. Over the last couple years, Apple has challenged the way we use digital books. First with digital magazine subscriptions and earlier this year with interactive textbooks that completely change the learning experience. All of a sudden these books now offer wildly different things than a printed page can do. They merge our interactive experiences with what we use to know about digital books. Books with quizzes and tests, animation, Keynote slides and full screen videos. And what’s more, they coupled it all with a free authoring application (iBooks Author) so we can all do it on our own. iBooks Author will be a year old this January and as of the end of October has been updated to 2.0.
As a companion to the Your Story Made Here campaign (launched October 1st) we worked on a very limited run of full-color, hardcover books. Don’t get me wrong—it’s gorgeous—but with all that went into this campaign it seemed only fitting to also build it into an iBook. One that could allow the user to pan through slideshows and watch full-screen video along with the stories captured for the campaign. We were pretty proud to get our feet wet while iBooks Author 2.0 was still in its infancy. You can pick it up from iTunes for FREE here. Along the way we discovered a slew of iBooks that turned the digital book experience on its head. Here are some of the stars of the show.
DC Entertainment is officially one of the first major publishers of comics to make their monthly titles available digitally. They even have their own app for managing and downloading the issues. This poses numerous struggles for me both as a comic reader and a lover of print… but I have to say it’s pretty remarkable. The user interface for navigating the page and viewing each panel is unique to any other iBook.
The Beatles Yellow Submarine
I may have been the last person on the internet to finally download this but in the words of Drew Kora, “holy cats” it was incredible. And jam packed with all the goodness of the 60’s animated feature. Each page is full of lyrics, clips from the movie, interactive animations and silly sound effects. Although it’s meant for a younger audience—and whether you’re a Beatles fan or not—this was a fun time.
The Magic of Reality
The Magic of Reality is a brilliant example of an iBook that brings a different experience to the user with each read. You are able to literally touch and interact with the storyline through hands-on science projects (e.g. a simulation of the effects of heat and gravity, genetically altering frogs and playing with light and prisms right on the screen). The whole read felt like being a kid in a science museum.
Numberlys is a vertical children’s book with games along the way for little ones. A game, within a book within a whimsical black and white adventure, about the origin of our known alphabet.
I feel a little partial to this one because my friend, Tymn Armstrong, is an illustrator for its publisher, Space Dog Books. But all biases aside, I can’t wait to have little babies and read this thing to ’em. From the Space Dog Books crew: “Voyage from the Admiral Benbow to Skeleton Island by tapping, rotating, swiping, and shaking to uncover images, audio, and animation as part of an enhanced reading experience.”
This is an interesting concept. A popular video game developer from the Czech Republic, Amanita Design, has produced a feature film that combines puppet animation, stop motion and live action—and released it as a digital book on the iTunes store. So there’s not much to really say here about the interactivity of the piece, but using iTunes as the vehicle for releasing a film is quite bizarre. And very cool. And the trailer is more than worth a watch.