Mark Sigal at O’Reilly looks at “four different use cases that capture the promise of an improved user experience around a reboot of the book” – in this case centered around the mythical Apple tablet (called here an “iPad”):
Travel Books: As noted in my post Touch Traveler: London, Paris and only an iPod Touch, travel is a very fertile space for a re-envisioned book, as it depends on good, timely information, just when you need it. For example, a travel book could always be up to date with real-time event calendars. Listings could be interconnected with maps, Wikipedia, live review sites, reservations/ticketing systems, video libraries, trip photos, messages and discussion threads, and fellow travelers’ notes of interest.
Children’s Books: Remember the Pop-Up book? It was the first interactive book, and it was pretty cool when I was a kid (before computers). What if you married the pluggable simplicity of Radio Shack’s 150-in-1 Electronic Project Kit to creating pop-up books? What kind of engaging stories could you create?
Comics & Graphic Novels: A format like the comic book or the graphic novel could push the envelope on good storytelling, especially if it was designed with the prosumer blogger in mind. I can readily imagine classics like Judge Dredd and Swamp Thing jumping off the screen on the iPad, not to mention the ability of storytellers to create multiple outcome forks based on different narrative paths chosen by the reader.
History & Science Books: Imagine learning what it’s like living through the current recessionary times with a book that is traversable based upon events, chronologies, or the road traveled by specific characters. A great sports book could allow you to relive a game-changing moment in a classic Series, or be game-ified to allow you to test your managerial instincts and see how different moves might have played out. What kind of pertri dish could an iPad enable, especially if it took advantage of the physical hardware accessory plugins the iPhone Platform can support?
This post also included some thoughtful links to people writing about the new iTunes LP format, which does indeed show some potential for next-gen text. Jay Robinson talks about how it looks, then digs into the guts of the files to find WebKit, CSS, etc., while Tristan Lewis wonders about the possibility that the format could create something like an AppStore for content developers:
What if independent movie-makers or musicians could sell directly through the iTunes store and provide content on all the apple platforms (TV, iPod, phone, computer) with a single click. I suspect that many would be willing to give up 30 percent of their revenue in order to get to that public.
The components all seem to be there and it seems to me that it won’t be long before Apple starts pushing the idea that we are all content producers (an old idea at Apple, which was at the source of their creating the iLife suite) and we can all make some money at producing that content.
For my part, I’ve got no idea whether that’s what Apple is up to*, or even if this tablet, however coveted, will ever materialize.** But yeah, I think that could be nice.
* This is where Apple-as-a-toll-collector almost begins to make sense. Really, why do we need to wait? I mean, couldn’t ANYONE create a new format like this to deliver content? It’s HTML and CSS, folks – it’ll work in a web browser! But Apple’s got the store, the way to get it on dedicated devices, and the marketing clout to get people interested in it. So we wait.
** I also wonder whether Apple’s just waiting until we all get accustomed to reading things and watching video on teeny tiny screens, so that there won’t be a need to up the size of the iPod touch at all, rendering the whole thing moot. “Hmm, can’t find a good touchscreen vendor at that size… Maybe we can just wait for everyone’s brains and eyes to adapt.”Generations will die and be replaced by those who can easily read whole novels off pages the size of a deck of cards! We’re all going to have magnifying glasses implanted in our eye sockets, while our fingers become filed down to stylus points. And it will be magical.