Publishing: A New E Book Revolution?

Mike Matas: A next-generation digital book

The popularity of e books is undeniable. According to the BBC, the use of e books in the UK has quadrupled in 2010. What started with Amazon’s Kindle and continued with other publisher producing their own version, like Nook from Barnes and Noble, has gotten a tremendous push with the introduction of the iPad and the smartphone apps. Now you can have all your reading material on one portable device that can play videos as well.

Most of the e books still look like books, letters on a page, flipped with a drag of the finger, except the children’s books which have become somewhat interactive, as paper children books have been. Apparently it is easy for 3 year olds to figure out the interactive buttons on the iPad.

How about fully interactive books for adults? That is what Mike Matas presented at a TED conference in Long Beach, CA. in March 2011.  The young developer, who while at Apple, helped design the user interface and artwork of leading Apple products, has shown a demonstration of the first full length interactive book for the iPad.  The company he co-founded with Melcher Media, Push Pop Press, has presented a book called “Our Choice” by Al Gore, a sequel to “An inconvenient Truth”.

This is a book that takes advantage of everything today’s technology has to offer. It starts as a regular written page, with pictures. You can choose which page you want to see by scoring fast through the pages at the bottom. When you want to look closely at the pictures, you can pinch them out of their place and see them full screen. Then you pinch them down and put them back into the book.

The innovation continues when those pictures become narrated videos, which open and close instantly, without loading time. “Our Choice” has over one hour of documentary and interactive animation material throughout the book. Pinch it closed and put it back on the page, or keep it at the bottom for later view. All the photos are narrated as well. Some of them have interactive maps. And while it is playing you can scale it down and continue reading, you can zoom out and see where in the world the photo has been taken etc. You want to find more information about a statistic you read? Swipe right ahead to Google Earth and see how it will impacts different parts of the world, country by country. It has real interactive infographics, and an actual interaction that has been seen on the iPhone and iPad. When you blow on the side of the screen, it moves a wind turbine on screen that shows how much electri city is produced by the wind you are creating. In short – it makes the book come alive with all pertinent information about the subject, and a lot of interesting facts.

And the books are really portable. You can start reading at home on an iPad and continue where you left off on your iPhone, with all those wonderful features on a small screen.

Can you image how much fun reading and learning can be? Many smaller charter schools are already introducing tablets in their classrooms. How long will it be before the students backpacks will be thin and easy to carry?





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