Hello, I’m Amy Heber, the founder of Literactivity. I am so excited to tell you about our very first interactive app – Is it Night or Day? What the heck is an interactive app you may ask? Is it an eBook? Is it an iBook? Does it work on my iPad? Does it work on my Kindle Fire? If you are confused, don’t feel bad, I am confused, too, but I am going to try to make some sense out of what is going on in real time. This information will probably be dated by next week. The lexicon is shifting as I write.
In an attempt to simplify things I am going to briefly describe the differences as they stand today – January 25, 2012. This entry will undoubtedly be updated.
Let’s start with the most simple, and then consider the more complex.
Real Physical Book (RPB) – The book has a cover. You can take it anywhere, and physically turn the pages. Sometimes, it has pictures in color or black and white. You can lend it out as many times as you want and it can be sold and resold. It gets old and can fall apart. Some books can even be interactive, in their own limited way, like the World Books of yore. Think of how amazing those transparencies seemed the first time you saw them. For me, this was my first foray into the world of multimedia.
eBook – Most people reading this blog have probably seen the Amazon Kindle. Amazon Kindle’s and other eBook readers such as the Nook or iBooks are the delivery mechanism for eBooks. An eBook is pretty much the same thing as the RPB described above, except that it is not made out of paper. You can’t lend it out. You can’t sell or resell it. It may have some pretty basic pictures, but as of today, these are in black and white, and the formatting can seem a bit wonky. If it is based on a RPB with funky formatting like The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, the eBook’s limited nature is not able to simulate the real reading experience as well.
You can buy eBooks through various vendors: Amazon, iBooks, Google, Barnes and Noble, etc. You can also typically purchase them straight from your device, meaning you don’t even have to get off the couch to purchase a book and it’s in your hands almost instantly. Most people love them, but some people hate them. You can’t read them when your plane is taking off or landing, which can be a drag and people reading RFB look around smirkily.
It seems like eBooks used to be a great deal at $9.99 for any Kindle eBook, but now they are usually priced at about one cent off of Amazon’s price of a physical book (sometimes even a hardcover). For example, I recently went to buy Parallel Stories: A Novel by Péter Nádas, and it was a wopping $19.99. Typically, when a book is over a year old, a remaindered RPB from Amazon is about 30% of the cost of the Kindle version. One day, perhaps, this will even out, but as of right now, eBooks can sometimes seem like a rotten deal.
Interactive App – This is what Literactivity has built. As of right now it will only be available in the iTunes store. If we build one for the Kindle Fire, it will likewise be available in the Amazon Android store. You do need an iPad to run it. That may sound restrictive, but the result is really beautiful.
These books can be deeply immersive and interactive. There are no restrictions on where the interactive elements go and in what directions you can take them. You poke something, and you have no idea what will happen.
To see an example, go download Is it Night or Day? now. A free Lite version is available and I guarantee you will love it. Don’t forget to rate it positively and then buy the Full version for $4.99 and give that 5 stars too.
iBooks created with iBooks Author – This is the newest entry to the fray and the real game changer. iAuthor is a program that makes publishing iBooks that can only be seen on the iPad a relatively simple process. iBooks author is the first creative tool for the iPad that allows non-programmers to create dynamic content and sell it.
It’s super fun to use. You connect your iPad to your Mac via usb and then you can preview your work right on your iPad in real time.
You can write creative words, make creative movies, and take creative pictures. You can put them all in your iBook. But, as of today, you cannot make these different media elements jump up and down and do somersaults. However, you can get them out quickly and efficiently and on a mass basis.
We plan on using this tool for our next few productions. The interactive book world is moving fast, and this will help us keep up. And, oh, you can’t share these books with other people or read them on planes when they are taking off or landing either.