iBooks and ePublications have grown massively popular in the past number of years. With businesses such as Amazon Kindle and Apple Store giving readers immediate access to new releases, older no longer in print publications its easy to see why. Those interested in reading in digital formats will in most instances have a tablet, smart phone or device which they use daily. By creating a format to have their chosen reading material to hand, digital reading has become the norm. No one wants to lug about huge hardback versions of the book or novel that they are currently reading on the train to work, Why would they?, when they have a small, light, hand held device which serves so many purposes other than as a book.
The growth of the digital platform for reading materials has open even more areas for businesses to gain information on their customers. Businesses can now track their customers areas of literary interest and suggest similar materials for them to purchase. While this may form part of an echo chamber where readers will only stay within their interests, it may also expose those less likely to browse other areas to other reading materials. This ‘suggestion’ model gives the business huge insight into their reader, and if they also sell other items online other than digital reading materials, then it is likely that they will build a user profile based on the materials searched and begin to target the user with ads based on the system algorithms.
It may not all be so dark and murky though, these online platform have developed into a virtual coffee shop where virtual book clubs can engage, comment share and review digital books.
It also gives the authors a place to interact with their readers and take the feedback being collected in the forums and comments being left. Digital readers have easy, immediate access to their peers and authors, which may not have been previously available.
Digital reading has its faults, but also has its be wins. I am a huge fan of printed books, I love the tactile nature of older books, their smell, the aged tears and folds of the paper, and the ability to feel the imprint that the ink has made on the paper when I run my hand over it. I am also a big fan of the planet, so I appreciate that the digital conversion of printed materials can only lead to less paper being needed and less trees being cut down. So while i like older book nostalgia, I am more enamoured with the idea that we are slowly moving towards a greener planet.
Digital reading hasn’t been embraced fully by all cultures. This article ‘The beautiful Icelandic tradition of giving books on Christmas eve’ by Steven Bissonette talks about the romanticism of gift giving and the idea that a book, a physical book is something to be treasured. The Icelandic people (where 1 in 10 people are published authors) maintain the tradition of book giving to be read on Christmas eve,
My Digital Books- ePub & iBook
I had previously worked for Apple and as part of a project, I developed an Apple Camp Program where younger children (aged 6 to 12) would come to the Apple Campus and create iBooks based on their own stories and drawings. The idea was simple, the children wrote their story, then created drawings to depict scenes. They used a simple drawing application and then once this was complete, they used iBooks Author to create their interactive books. The application allowed then to add sound effect, moving imagery and allowed the user to engage with the piece. What most interested me with this project was the ease with which the young children grasped the concept and ran with it. They had no fear of making mistakes, they knew their stories and therefore could apply the material to the book without concern or approval.
Now as a secondary school Art teacher, I have my older student create iBooks and ePubs ( as well as powerpoint presentations) as part of their art history curriculum. These tasks not only give the student a place to store their learning but it also gives them technical skills and exposure to new digital applications. The learning begins with them having to research the materials that they will use, then figuring out how the applications work, adding the materials and fine tuning it to their own styles, then presenting the material to their classmates. It gives them an understanding of the material which they can show through peer teaching.
My own iBook and ePub I have kept simple. I have used the main idea for my research topic and added a title, heading and some images. I do hope to create a full version by the end of the MA as I feel it will be an important part of my digital portfolio.
I found the iBook Author very easy to use, it has a simple drag and drop functionality with doesn’t require any coding to edit or stylise it. The ePub was a little more difficult. For this task we used Calibre It uses HTML and allows you to finalise detail using code. ePubs allow those without a Mac to access ePublications. With iBooks only those of you with Apple devices will be able to read them in the format in which they are created.
I am unable to add my iBook here due to formatting issues so I have included some screen shots.
When I saved the ePub originally using Calibre it did have formatted cover text, however, as my computer is now using iBooks to open the document, it appears that the cover text has been removed.