Book of Hours: A flipbook with audio

Book of Hours is a contemporary ‘illuminated manuscript’ comprising text by some of the author’s favorite poets, writers, scientists, and songwriters, placed alongside carefully selected playlists, and accompanied by her own beautiful drawings. When Rebecca Clark approached us to see if we had ways to enhance her PDF with audio tracks, we jumped at the opportunity. The complexity was not necessarily with adding audio and create an interactive ebook—we have many tools for that—the challenge was to do it in a way that reproduces the current PDF experience.

Because of the need for a quick turnaround and a tight budget, we eliminated the iBooks Author option. It would have required us to basically re-create the book in that tool, and it had over 230 pages! So, we looked at Kotobee and 3D Issue. Both accept PDF and provide a quick way to add audio files. An important factor was the ability to store the ebook on her iPad as there won’t be any internet connectivity where the art presentation will occur, and both tools can do that. However, one big advantage that 3D Issue offered is the ability to have 2 facing pages, which was critical for the Author as her book used 2-page spreads on many occasions.

So, we went with 3D Issue, and added all the audio snippets. The ebook was published on 3D Issue cloud and the author was able to download the ebook on her iPad. We look forward to seeing her ebook in action at the By the People exhibit in June, in Washington, DC!

Diversity and Inclusion Annual report

Diversity and Inclusion is not only a good idea, it improves the bottom line. IFC knows that a broad range of outlooks and experiences is good for our business as it allows them to better serve their clients. We also know it creates a working environment where all benefit from the vigorous exchange of ideas. IFC values the differences that make each and every staff unique—differences in nationality, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, physical ability, and more. This rich array helps IFC mirror the world at large as well as the people they serve. 

IFC approached us to develop an interactive flipbook for their Diversity and Inclusion annual report, to be viewed in a Web browser. We created the following functionality:

  • Intro video
  • Image galleries
  • Pop-up boxes with staff testimonies
  • Explainer videos throughout the flipbook.

Flipbooks: The future of digital content?

We’re big fans of Apple’s iBook Author, the enhanced ebook development software used to create iBooks that can be viewed on any Apple device. The tool is very powerful in and of itself, but what makes it a truly exceptional development platform is the ability to add custom widgets, which are essentially small apps running inside the iBook. There is really nothing that allows developers to create engaging interactive publications that make your content come to life they way it does.

As much as this software is in many ways ahead of its time, there are two main issues we encounter when proposing this service to our clients.

  1. Limitation to Apple devices: The software produces an iBooks file which can only be viewed on Apple devices. In many cases, that’s not a problem. Some companies have adopted iPads, iPhones or even Apple computers as their default tablet, smartphone or computing device. But that’s certainly not the case for the general public: There are a multitude of Android tablets and smartphones as well as PCs and Chromebooks in use. These users wouldn’t be able to use the iBook you spent so much time and money developing.
  2. Apple support for the iBooks Author software: This is becoming an increasingly valid concern. The software came out in January 2012. Since the first release, there have been only a few enhancements to the software. The last major update was almost 2 years ago with the addition of a new template allowing the creation of ePubs, the standard markup language for traditional electronic books. Unfortunately, the resulting ePub file is not compatible with any e-readers we tested, especially if the ebook contains interactive features (e.g. image galleries and custom widgets). It is, however, fully compatible with Apple devices. But that defeats the purpose, no? Why not simply create a full-featured iBook if it’s going to be working only on Apple devices – Apple missed the mark on this one.

So, with that in mind, we have been actively looking for a tool that will allow us to create engaging ebooks (as opposed to basic text and image ePubs) for our clients. We had been eyeing 3D Issue for a while. The Irish software firm has been developing a software platform to create PC-based flipbooks for a while. These publications were becoming ubiquitous, but the quality of the interactivity really lacked behind what could be done with iBooks Author. This changed late last year with the most recent release of the software. It was now possible to create a dynamic, interactive and engaging ebook that approaches the quality and polish of iBooks, with the advantage that it can be viewed on multiple devices and operating system. Could this be the tool that would replace iBooks Author?

We decided to join the partner program and got to work on our first two flipbooks: A branding and style guide for a large international organization, as well as an annual report for an internal initiative at another organization (the latter one will be published in the summer). We are excited with this new opportunity, and although we will still embrace iBooks Author for Apple device projects, we are now going to market Flipbooks as the future of enhanced ebooks.

Contact us for a free analysis of your business content and publications to see if iBooks or flipbooks are for you.