When the iPad was released in April of 2010, intriguing book-based apps began appearing with movable elements. As Elizabeth O. Dulemba’s recent post proved, the discussion about interactivity has just begun. Several e is for book members have story apps that have already been released (click on the Our Ebooks tab under the blog header to see several of them.) The coding for those story apps was done by various iPhone/iPad developers.
My creative process is hands-on—I improvise along the way by trying different sizes, positions, and colors for the characters, props, setting, and so on. With so many changes involved, it would drive a developer crazy and they would probably stop answering email/the phone. So if you want to create a book app yourself... what are the options? The page shown is from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to iPad and iPhone App Development. As appealing as endless pages of code may be to some people, it didn’t exactly match up with my current skill set(!)
What I need is a framework to arrange my images, stories, and other media within, and that allows me to add the interactivity that would be appropriate for each book app. We all use word processors now, plus many artists draw and paint with Photoshop, Painter, et al, so why not?
So it was with some excitement last week that members of e is for book discovered three companies working on software for creating interactive book apps. All three of them are currently or soon will be doing beta testing...sign up and you may get chance to try the software before anyone else.
Moglue has a video on their home page that gives a good sense of how their software will work. It’s for the Mac iOS as well as Android devices. Among other options, the coloring feature looks like fun (and not just for kids!)
The Composer sofware by Demibooks promises a drag and drop interface that allows you to work directly on the iPad itself. Two cute little girls appear in a video to demonstrate a story app made with the software. There also are several blog posts about the making of Astrojammies.
Interactbooks has a system called InteractBuilder that they say is very easy to use. They also have a Facebook page. (Thanks to member June Goulding for that link.)
I wonder how many other companies are working on similar software? It’s hard to say exactly when any of these will be available, but probably within weeks or months. One issue that immediately comes to mind is the price of the software. In other words, will there be a one-time fee and you can make all the apps you like? The only indication I could find was on InteractBooks’ News page, where the headline says Let Us Publish Your Book and underneath is a sentence about “revenue sharing.”
First of all, one of the primary things publishers do is to select what to publish; I doubt that is what is being suggested. Secondly, revenue sharing may mean that the software company will upload the app under their name and give the author/illustrator a share (after deducting Apple’s fee in the case of their App Store). Quite a lot of issues there, such as will there be a right to audit? I wonder if they’ve looked at a typical multi-page book publishing contract lately? If so, they would probably opt for simpler model because it’s very complicated otherwise.
In short, I want a relationship similar to the one I have with Adobe: I pay them up front for their software, and they have zero claim upon my creations. That’s the app-creation business model that I’m looking for... it’s only a matter of time.