The Book Unbound project aims to research the impact of new, digital technologies on the process of publishing and to create an iPad app demonstrating some of these technologies.
The idea was developed within the Centre for International Publishing Studies at University of Stirling in mid 2011. In late 2011 the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) called for research projects based around the concept of digital transformations. The Publishing Studies team, led by Professor Claire Squires, saw this as an opportunity to integrate the app idea with more formal academic research. We wrote a proposal and submitted it in November 2011.
After the AHRC approved the project this February, we assembled our project team: Claire Squires and Padmini Ray Murray from Publishing (carrying out case studies); Scott Russell (designing and developing the iPad app); and author Paula Morris, a lecturer in Stirling’s Creative Writing programme (editing and writing).
On 29 March the project was presented to postgraduate students in Publishing Studies and Creative Writing, and the students were invited to apply for several project assistant jobs. Claire introduced the project, Paula Morris described the opportunities for potential content providers, and Scott Russell demonstrated the proposed software platform, Adobe Digital Publishing Suite.
DPS was chosen for several reasons. As part of Adobe’s InDesign page layout application, Digital Publishing Suite allows iPad apps to be developed without using coding or other bespoke development services. This simplifies the production process and makes app development available to a wide variety of publishers. As the industry-leading page layout application, InDesign is already used by many publishers to create books and magazines.
Pricing for DPS is also multi-tiered with a low cost entry level, making it very competitive with traditional printing and making app development a possibility for individuals and small organisations. We chose to develop an app over an ebook as the interactive features offered by the app format offered more scope for transformation than those of an ebook.
The project has a fairly short deadline – the end of August 2012 – so the project group immediately set about creating a production plan, developing designs and creating a call for entries.