Finally, my fully interactive and multimedia photo e-book, Reports from the Wild, for the iPad is out and available. And it will only cost you $2.99! You can find it here = Reports from the Wild - Rob Sheppard.
This truly has been a journey, and one that has helped me grow as a photographer, naturalist, writer and communicator. Plus, I had to learn a lot about photo e-books along the way. I know that not all of you have iPads, and one thing on my list of projects to do is to create a pdf version of Reports. But I have not been in a hurry to do that yet because then I lose all of the interactivity, and that is one thing that makes working with a tablet like the iPad so cool.
I really believe that there is much potential for photographers with these devices and they are worth investing in as a way of learning about the future as well as simply giving you a great way to display your photos (and videos). The iPad does a wonderful job in showing off photography and video – I believe it is one of the best ways we have today of sharing our photos in a high-quality, easily accessed way.
The publishing industry today, from books to publications, has become a stressed industry that struggles with the new realities of today's digital and Internet connected world. I think that photo e-books offer photographers a way to deal with these new realities in a positive and exciting way. You have total control over your photography, how it is displayed, how it is presented with text, interactivity and multimedia. And this type of book is available for anyone, from the seasoned pro to an amateur who simply wants to make a photo book for his or her family.
This is not to say there are not challenges for this type of project, too. I often use the analogy of the time when cars first appeared in our country. As cars appeared, they needed gas stations. But investors didn't want to build gas stations until there were enough cars. And people didn't want to buy cars until they were sure they could get gas. Today, photographers don't want to create photo e-books until they are sure enough people will buy them. And the public is slow to buy them because there aren't enough yet to reach a "tipping point" for them to think about photo e-books and tablets. They don't know about them. (This is why I ask a favor of you if you get Reports from the Wild – please write a review on the iTunes iBookstore page for my book and let others know about it at your photo club, in Facebook and so forth.)
I did Reports with iBooks Author. This is a really excellent program for photographers. It is not hard to learn and all of the cool things that are possible with a multimedia, interactive e-book can be done largely by clicking and dragging. Want a photo on the page? Drag an image file from Finder onto the page, drag the photo into place and click and drag edges and corners to size. Text automatically wraps around it.
iBooks Author is template based which means when you choose a design for your e-book, you don't have to think about font selection, styles for captions and so forth. It is all there for you, nicely designed. Yet, this is not a fixed option – you can modify any template however you want. You can totally make a book YOUR book, yet you are not having to start from scratch.
Now some of you may have a PC. iBooks Author only works on a Mac. However, you could buy a Mac Mini for less than $600 (and use your existing keyboard and screen), then download the iBooks Author software for free. That is less than buying any other option, such as InDesign (that will set you back about $700), plus the learning curve is reasonable (InDesign has a big learning curve and no templates). How often do photographers buy an accessory such as a lens for more than $600? And that won't give them as much pleasure as doing their own photo e-books!
You can do a simple pdf photo e-book quickly and easily in iBooks Author that you can make available to anyone with a computer or tablet. This can be a good way to start if you don't want to deal with interactivity at first. I have done this for classes where I have students select a group of photos, compose a short text, then we quickly put together a simple pdf book for everyone to take with them. We are going to do this at the California Photo Festival this fall, too.