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ARE INTERACTIVE E-BOOKS ,”E+,” A NEW GENRE?

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We believe that The Book, both p and e, are already near artifacts. Book publishing is in the death throes of the last century, bound up in static, linear publications. Just as the iPod changed the music industry, the entire book publishing industry, is on the brink of a paradigm change. That change is the enhanced or interactive e-book, e+.

The present e-readers are a device, not a genre.  An e-reader is just a way of conveniently displaying current printed books. “War and Peace” is “War and Peace,”  thankfully, in both p and e  formats.

“The Fine Art Book” is the first post of a three part series discussing the enhanced e-book, e+, as a new genre. Subsequent posts will discuss enhanced e-books in Biography, and in The Novel.

THE FINE ART BOOK

Two of the best examples this new genre of enhanced e-books, “e +,” in Fine Arts are the books published by Artpublishing  and Tapity.

The first is Great Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings published by Artepublishing in conjunction with The Musee d’Orsay. The book contains scalable reproductions of nearly 200 paintings by 26 artists including such favorites as Manet, Monet, Renoir, and Van Gogh; over three hours of original audio information about the artists and their paintings; and more than 500 hyperlinks to some of the best sites on the Internet to learn more about the artists and their work.

The book’s audio commentaries and texts are by Dr. Charles F. Stuckey, one of the world’s foremost scholars on Impressionist art. Dr. Stuckey has held senior curatorial positions at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts; The Art Institute of Chicago; and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. He has organized major exhibitions on Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists including exhibitions on Monet, Gauguin, and Toulouse-Lautrec, and written monographs on Monet, Gauguin, Morisot, and Toulouse-Lautrec.

A further and great feature of this enhanced e-book is that there are between 10 and 30 curated links for each artist and featured painting. These include biographies of the artist, articles about the artist, works by the artist in other museums, artist quotes, videos and even free e-books about the artist. Following the featured works are other paintings by the artist in the d’Orsay.

The book is an outstanding work of scholarship and expertise, two elements that are essential for a quality e+ Fine Art Book. It is beautifully designed and intuitively interactive.  All of these features are true enhancements. The book is 436 pages, is available on iTunes. and costs only $7.99.

The second Fine Art e+ book is Cleaning Mona Lisa written by the noted art historian, Lee Sandstead. As described by MacStories — “Cleaning Mona Lisa: Showcasing the Potential for iBooks

“Sandstead’s 30-page digital iBook is nothing short of an exemplary example of what iBooks Author can produce when great minds meet great developers. The concise text, coupled with interactive images, galleries, and interviews, provides a much more personal platform for learning and engagement than my history textbooks ever could. That’s not to say “Cleaning Mona Lisa” was written for study — it’s an intriguing, personalized story from a passionate and talented art historian.”

Both of these books meet the criteria of Art in the New Media from the Purpose Purpose Page of this blog:
1. Fine Art in the New Media should be accessible.
2. Fine Art in the New Media should be interactive.
3. It should be viewer directed.
4. It should be able to be manipulated, enabling the viewer to use their creativity to examine, adapt, and experiment with the art.
5. It should be comparative , enabling the viewer to array art from different museums, galleries or artists side by side to study technique, execution, and genre.
6. Lastly, Fine Art in the new media should be able to be viewed as a continuum of man’s effort at visual expression.

An article by Barbra Gallety  in DBW (7/2, 2012)  reported, “According to Harold Moss, Creative Director at FlickerLab, an animation studio and enhanced e-book production house. He was speaking at the New York Foundation for the Arts last week about digital publishing.”

Ms. Gallety goes on to observe that,

“What I think Moss really gets right here when he suggests we’re on the verge of reinventing the book (and therefore publishing) is that he isn’t just talking about a unilateral transference of power from old publishing houses to individual writers, Kindle Singles or iBooks Author – he’s suggesting a collective and collaborative future for publishing, one we’ll have to come up with together.”

It is interesting to note that the major Fine Art Book publishers, such as Phaidon, Rizolli,  and Taschen are yet to produce an interactive Fine Art e-book, despite their vast back-lists of titles. Now that Leon Black has bought Phaidon, might it be the first? If not, the paradigm change will be done by others.

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