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Flying Books: The Future of Publishing Has Arrived

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By HVculture on July 15, 2011


If you ask most people what the future of publishing is, they’ll probably shrug their shoulders out of indifference. The television and Internet is the future of publishing, duh. Of course, you’ll get some others who will insist the future of publishing is e-readers and digital books, things like that.

But if you want to really know what the future of publishing is, check out this trailer for a new interactive children’s book that is available for the iPad. It’s called “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore,” and the author is William Joyce. Joyce is an ex-Pixar character designer, an accomplished illustrator and animator who has even published New Yorker covers.

That looks splendiferous, right?. We usually refrain from shilling for Apple, but when the Cupertino company describes their iPad as “magical” we’re pretty sure this app/book/movie thingie is exactly what Steve Jobs had in mind.

It’s impossible to imagine any child not being enamored with this. We’re enamored with. We’re about five seconds away from dropping the $500 we don’t have in our bank account for an iPad just so we can get our hands on Morris Lessmore.

Fast Company got to play around with the book and this is what they had to say about it:

Designing interactive interfaces for kids is no mean feat, and the Moonbot team really made some great choices with “Morris Lessmore.” When you open up the app, it doesn’t waste your time with teaching-screens about how to interact with it — it just smoothly enters the story. (A key feature, I imagine, when you want to get Junior to go the youknowwhat to sleep ASAP.) Gently animated cues surface in the lush visuals at just the right time, encouraging you to explore the app rather than slavishly plod through it: When a house gets picked up in a tornado, you can use your fingers to swipe and spin it around — but you don’t have to.

In fact, the interface design is so subtle it wasn’t until I was about six pages in that I realized that every page of the app has some delightful feature embedded into it that you have to find for yourself. This is the key to a successful children’s book — inviting them to play and explore and be curious, not just jab buttons to activate cheesy visual effects. And mercifully, every gewgaw in the book has a button so you can toggle it on or off: For example, you can kill the voiceover so you can read to your kid in your own voice the way God intended, or silence the music and sound effects if you want to. But they’re all just a tap away if you change your mind — and the whole experience is so well-produced, you very well just might.

Though we have no thoughts on the matter because, ahem, we don’t have an iPad or kids, the entire thing feels like a technological pop-up book. And everyone knows the world needs more pop-up books.

By the way, for those that are into this sort of thing, if you go to the Moonbot Studios Vimeo page they have a slew of “making of” videos.

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