Riding the iBook Wave

Well, Everest: High Expectations has been available on the world’s 50 iTunes stores for a few weeks now. It seems odd that I can sit here in my backwoods office — tethered to the rest of the world by a small internet satellite dish — and watch the iBooks’ first tentative steps onto the international scene without even going outside.

Everest is slowly attracting the attention of readers and the mountaineering publishing world. We’ve had a lot of enthusiastic reviews posted on the American and Canadian iTunes sites and received many more as emails. I’ve met some new people through the book (notably editor, writer and mountaineer John Harlin) and exchanged emails with folks in Turkey, New Zealand, England, Russia and Georgia. Our first full-length review comes from the mountain town of Whistler, B.C. — The Pique’s Lynn Martel shows that she understands Everest’s 3-dimensional nature. You can read it here.

Many are drawn to the Everest adventure story but some are just as excited about the format of the book itself. So far, more than a half dozen people have told me they bought iPads specifically to read the book — some were anxious to see pictures of themselves but others read about it on this website and were convinced that it really does show a new stage of illustrated non-fiction publishing.

To date, books for the iPad have been based on printed editions. The early ones like Thames & Hudson’s Cyclepedia: Iconic Bicycle Designs are apps disguised as books (weighing in at a hefty 1.2 gigabytes in size) while others, like the National Geographic’s Ansel Adams in the National Parks, is a spectacular presentation of 200 of the great photographer’s black and white pictures of the American wilderness actually produced as an iBook. The Adams retrospective is gorgeous but is linked to the printed edition that was printed two years ago. I’m convinced that it could have been a better iBook if its editors had cut their ties to the printed-page.

I continue to look for iBooks that have been created with Apple’s powerful editorial iBooks Author software — not as a supplement to a printed volume but as its own independent title. I can’t believe that Everest: High Expectations is the first of its genre but I think it is one of the first and I look forward to see if other publishers will follow suit.

(I think that it has been easier for children’s picture book publishers to enter the iBook Author production stream but there are still too many publishers concentrating on app-based books that honk and wiggle for young readers. I still prefer giving youngsters and their parents a chance to read a book in their own voice.)


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