A guest post by Nick Lewis writing on behalf of www.rhapsodymedia.co.uk

E-publishing – for mobile, e-readers, tablets and desktop – opens up enormous potential for creative design. Although most e-books and iPad publications are little more than the digital source for the paper version, as e-publishing matures we are likely to see far more advantage taken of the possibilities of digital publishing.

ipad

Here are just a few examples of what e-publishing makes possible.

Illustrations

The most obvious example is more comprehensive use of illustrations. With the financial constraints imposed by printing removed – thicker paper, more inks – the scope for full colour illustrations is much greater.

More than that, the displays available thanks to the devices like the iPad mean that these illustrations can be more beautifully rendered than they ever would have been in an affordable paperback.

Animation

Although illustration may be more cost effective in digital publishing, the real potential goes beyond that.

Animation has already made an appearance in groundbreaking e-books, most notably ‘Operation Ajax’, a “motion comics” telling of the CIA’s involvement in the 1950s Iranian revolution. The addition of animation to comic books has the potential to add new depths to the genre.

The possibilities of animation aren’t just confined to comic books though – animated ‘illustrations’, advertisements and diagrams could all be valuable additions.

Operation Ajax on Ipad by Cognito Comics

Interactivity

Operation Ajax also offers up dossier files on all the main characters for the reader to peruse at their leisure. ‘Cathy’s Book’ goes further.

Although originally a print novel itself, the iOS app offers animated versions of sketchbook drawings and voicemail phone clues, crossing the audio/visual divide.

Cathy’s Book

Ruper Murdoch’s pet iPad newspaper ‘The Daily’ became eclipsed by certain events in the news, and was not generally well received. But by combining multimedia and print as well as an app’s sensibility to navigating a newspaper, it did show that there could be a place for digital only newspapers and magazines that go beyond publishing the same text online and linking to the odd video.

The Daily

Soundtracks

As a professional musician publishing novels on the side, Nick Cave was particularly well placed to introduce the soundtracked novel to the world.
The iPhone version of his last novel ‘The Death of Bunny Munro’ synced the audiobook reading of the book with the scrolling text, including full soundtrack by Cave and long-time collaborator Warren Ellis as well as sound design from British artists Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard.

The Death of Bunny Munro

Not every novelist is an acclaimed songwriter and composer, but the possibilities pointed to for multimedia e-books combining sound, animation and graphic design are certainly compelling, and demonstrate that e-publishing can be about far more than just crystal clear pdfs.

nickNick Lewis is a technology and design writer, writing on behalf of premedia specialists Rhapsody Media.