Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tehrkot Media releases its first book app for the iPad: a faithful reproduction of the Civil War photographer Alexander Gardiner's 'Sketch Book of the War'

Released into the App Store two weeks ago, Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War is the first iPad book app from Tehrkot Media of South Carolina.
The book app is a faithful reproduction of the Civil War photographer Alexander Gardner's book of the same name, originally published only one year after the end of the war. At only $4.99, the iPad version is a definite bargain over printed versions of the book currently available.

The iPad book contains 100 photographs from the original two volume work. The publisher notes that the text contained in the app is faithfully reproduced, including misspellings and other mistakes. Originally only 200 copies were printed of the book in 1866, which was priced at $200, a fortune back then. The publisher says that a complete set of the works were sold at Christie's in 2009 for $92,500.

As the nation remembers the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Conflict, our goal is to bring this work of art and these images back to life and to make it widely available to those around the country, as well as around the world, who share our love of photography as well as the history of this great country. – from the press release.
The app itself is simple enough, and altogether appropriate for the content: designed in landscape only, which matchs the photographs, the app is light on supplemental multimedia material (meaning there is none), but allows the reader to appreciate the photographs using the iPad's 9.7 inch display.

Each photograph is presented as it appeared in the original book. A button on the bottom of the page allows the reader to pull up a caption or to "zoom". Zooming actually pulls up a new page with only the photograph which then allows the reader to pinch to zoom into and out of the picture – a perfect way to use the tablet's capabilities.

Left: for the most part the book app is a faithfully reproduced copy of Gardner's book; Right: supplemental material with the app's navigation bar at the top.

While I might have wanted some sort of additional content, like an audio narration or video from the battlefield sites, at $4.99 a buyer could hardly complain.

The book has seem to slip by the notice of Apple's App Store team, which is a shame. Hopefully they will promote the book in the App Store to encourage sales – and, I suppose, to encourage Tehrkot Media to continue using the platform.

As a side note, the publisher maintains an interesting Tumbler blog that is promoting the book, and provides interesting reading itself.