Monday 23 January 2012

Things I Like This Week - January 23, 2012

I’m going for a change of tact with my blog entry today. Instead of my usual dissertation, I’m going for concision. Let’s look at some cool things that are going on at the moment; this is my new Things I Like This Week feature. Here goes:

-          Apple’s iAuthor/ iBooks 2. Contrary to all the hype in the press, Apple’s new publishing system is not some covert plot to control the ownership of writers’ work, rather it is an incredibly brilliant method for writers (and publishers) to easily put together and publish app editions of their books. Having spent well over a year looking at myriad offerings from a number of app development companies and balking pretty much every time at the exorbitant prices they quote to make relatively straight forward interactive books (£60K for a simple text book with slide shows and some pop-up video boxes? Please!), Apple have come to the rescue. If you want to give away the end product for free, Apple are happy for you to distribute it anywhere you want; if you want to sell it, they say that it can only be done through the iBookstore (thus the kerfuffle about ownership). Since the software and all the plug-ins that allow you to make the book an app are free, why shouldn’t they insist on only allowing it to be sold through the iBookstore? Seems perfectly reasonable to me.

-          Adobe Digital Publishing. Also extremely cool and the answer, once again, to my app development problems – and to the issue that many people have with the iAuthor’s output only being available through Apple. This offering from Adobe allows you to make apps with videos, slide-shows, audio files, 3D graphics, rotating graphics, interactive maps and hyperlinks and so on alongside the traditional text for any number of tablet and smartphone platforms. And the best bit? It can all be done in Indesign. Halleluiah! Yes, you have to have Indesign 5.5, but once you upgrade then it is a simple case of adapting traditional typesetting files (and typesetting techniques) to create amazing interactive books – and all for a smidgen of the price that I’ve been quoted by app developers.

-          For publishers and authors who are happy with Indesign and Quark, but who do not feel comfortable enough to explore the Adobe Digital Publishing solution or the iAuthor, there are a number of companies who can add interactivity to your existing files. Check out Mobcast and Press Run

-          The Joy of Books. This video is mesmerising and brilliant – but the mind boggles at how long it must have taken them to film.

-          The Book Surgeon’s sculptures. Totally stunning.

-          The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. A great story and a triumph of modern publishing: the hardback is everything a hardback should be with beautiful production values; the eBook does everything it says on the tin; the audio book is wonderful; and the marketing of the whole project with its dedicated website is just sensational. Check them all out if you haven’t already – particularly the website.

-          The lovely people at the RFU and the British & Irish Lions. It has been a pleasure working with you all so far, and I look forward to the months ahead. Fingers crossed things go as well with the SRU and IRFU in due course. Check out the projects we’re working on at the Lion and Behind the Rose.

-          The build up to the RBS Six Nations. Along with Burns Suppers, the best way to lift the January blues. And add to that Edinburgh Rugby making it into the quarter finals of the Heineken Cup and this has been a superb start to the year (only mildly countered by the disappointment of the 49ers losing the NFC Championship playoff to the New York Giants. You can’t have it all…).

-          The new Action Movie app from Bad Robot – a fun example of the power of augmented reality. Instantly impressive.

-          Stephen Page’s excellent appraisal of the eBook publishing scene and the ongoing role of publishers in this rapidly changing medium

Hope the above is of interest to some of you. Any comments or suggestions, let me know.

Speak soon.

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