I bought and downloaded my first book-as-iPad-app yesterday: NONOBJECT, by Branko Lukic and Barry M. Katz (MIT Press, 2010). It cost $19.99 and one finds it in the Apps Store, not in the book store. It took quite a while to download over my home connection. It was worth it, both in terms of cost and time waiting for the code to run on the iPad.
I chose to read NONOBJECT for its form, not so much its substance. I don’t know much about industrial design or the theory related to it, though I learned a bit along the way. (The premise of NONOBJECT is a design principle that focuses not so much on the product or the designer but on the space between them that is altered through design.) I was interested in the experience of reading that the authors would offer up. It’s fun and thought-provoking. The experience is partially but not entirely linear. One reads a bit of text (I doubt there’s more than 5,000 words in total in the book), which is all cleverly written, and then experiences a series of ideas of “nonobjective” design. The photos are beautiful, as one might expect from a high-end book on design, and are frequently interactive. There are twirling objects, moving pictures, interactive bits. I give a lot of credit to Lukic, Katz, MIT Press, and the programmers who developed the book into an iPad app. It’s a lovely job; I felt my time was well-spent in experiencing it.
I’ve been thinking a lot about books-as-iPad-apps. I’m writing one myself, on intellectual property strategy, also to be published with MIT Press. The idea is to think of the book as an experience that takes advantage of the interactivity and design possibilities of the iPad interface (which I happen to enjoy). I’ve written it as a book that one can read in its ordinary, printed, form, though it will be a short book — probably 30,000 words. It will also have expanded case studies if one wants to go deeper on certain topics. And I’ve been videotaping interviews with colleagues about intellectual property strategy, with help from my friend June Casey in the HLS Library and a team of students. The idea is to put together an iPad app version of this book that can be downloaded, much like NONOBJECT. I’m glad that Lukic and Katz’s book has come out in this version. I’ve learned a lot from experiencing it while working on my own.