I keep twisting and turning my iPad with childlike wonder while reading the familiar tale of the adventures of a girl named Alice. For the first time in my life, I'm blown away by an interactive book design.
Alice for the iPad is a cute app which contains a slightly interactive version of a beloved story. It's not interactive to the point of annoyance and tackiness, but instead full of clever little touches like mushrooms that you can toss around a room with a twist of your iPad or an Alice who grows and shrinks as you move your gadget around.
And Time's Nerd World gushes:
iPad, suddenly much more appealing: Virtual pop-up book? Hell yes. This interactive Alice in Wonderland e-book looks incredible. Behold, the future.
The problem is that this future currently isn't available in iBooks, Apple's online bookstore, but from individual app companies like Vook and Alice's Atomic Antelope. (The difference is the same as buying a song from iTunes versus downloading an app from the App Store.)
If you purchased an iPad and downloaded iBooks, you got Winnie the Pooh. The interactivity? You can "see" the page turn. Other books that naturally lend themselves to animation, video or dynamicism seem missing in action.
In another example, comic books look gorgeous and move fluidly on the free Marvel Comics app. Why wasn't this integrated into iBooks, especially as classic graphic novels like The Watchmen inevitably make their way to the medium?
Apple is creating a fragmented environment, where individual publishers have to go outside the much-hyped iBookstore environment to offer truly dynamic storytelling. It's still unclear whether that's because Apple has been stingy with the tools, or if it isn't capable of anything truly revolutionary with its iBookstore right now. Either way, the tension bodes poorly for the business of selling eBooks on the iPad.