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Publishing Experiments In The Age Of The iPad

Crowdsourced funding for Art Space Tokyo, and experiments on translating the reading experience from print to iPad.

Francisco Hui
Francisco Hui on April 16, 2010.

The analysis and reviews surrounding publishing and the iPad has led us to be particularly interested in Craig Mod’s thinking to categorize publishing into formless or definite content. He believes some text can retain its meaning regardless of the platform and screen size, while others are enhanced by the design and layout decisions.

As the co-author of the popular Art Space Tokyo with Ashley Rawlings, they have raised over $15,000 to print a second edition of the cult-classic book and to experiment in how they can translate and enhance the reading experience from print to iPad.

PSFK followed up with Craig to talk about some of his learnings on crowdsourced funding on Kickstarter and what he’s learned so far about publishing for the iPad.

Books in the Age of iPad” was written before the device was released. Any updates to the article now that you’ve had a chance to interact with it?

I’ve only had the iPad for a week, so it’s hard to say. I’m still very much trying to understand where the device fits in my life. I don’t think ePub is a good format for Definite Content. It most certainly doesn’t allow for designers to fully embrace the iPad canvas. Much of the research and development connected with Art Space Tokyo on the iPad will be looking into ways to overcome this.

art space tokyo craig mod psfk 02

Advice on how he’s approaching these design problems:

  • Focus on the basics—typography, navigation, layouts—to capture the spirit of the content.
  • Once mastered, use “features”—commenting, sharing, uploading (photos, videos, audio)—to support this core content.
  • The main focus has to be on the reading experience. Especially for “classic” books like ours — that is, books conceived in the pre-ebook era. All supplementary / interactive content must support that reading experience and the core content of the book. Otherwise it becomes kitsch and gimmicky and obstructs readers’ ability to access the real information.

With regards to paying for digital content, what are some of the learnings/surprises you’ve experienced with the Kickstarter project?

“The physical / digital combo is very powerful. Being able to provide something tangible (the book, the Japanese wrapping cloth, the original illustration) in addition to providing convenient (a PDF, an iPad edition) fills the complex needs of contemporary discerning consumers. I love getting beautifully made physical objects, but also very much demand and expect the convenience of digital media. I think a lot of people feel the same way.”

What are some inspirational apps for when thinking about publishing for the iPad?

Time Magazine
“Time’s application (ignoring the one-app-per-issue insanity for a moment) is very beautifully art directed. It has some of the best typographical treatments and strongest use of photography I’ve seen in an iPad book/magazine so far.”

The NY Times Editor’s Choice
“The NY Times Editor’s Choice app is rough around the edges (typographically — broken leading, broken baseline grid, etc) but has excellent potential. I love how curated it is! Please, tell me what to read. I feel overwhelmed looking at the nytimes.com homepage, but I find myself reading almost everything in this app. Clean up the type and some interaction issues and this will be the king of news apps.”

Marvel
“Marvel’s comic book reader (built by Comixology) is beautiful. They offer a double-tap mode that walks you through the panels. The effect is cinematic and enhances the reading experience without getting in the way. It’s a great example of adding well-considered interaction to an old format without delving into the kitsch pool.”

Enhanced Editions
“Enhanced Editions isn’t out for iPad yet, but they are doing some lovely work with e-books on the iPhone.”

It’s great to see designers and authors with a willingness to explore the possibilities of publishing for the iPad and readers encouraging this discovery by funding it themselves.

To learn more about their process and support the iPad version of Art Space Tokyo, visit their Kickstarter page here.

Craig Mod

Thinking...