Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Joe Zeff Design sets its sights on its own renovated building in its newest app 'The People in the Steeple'

This is the third post about new e-books apps written in the past 48 hours. The last post was a preview of The Afronauts, a stand-alone e-book app from Ubicuo Studio and author Cristina De Middel.

Writing about a new app from Joe Zeff Design is both a pleasure and a bit of a waste of time. After all, if you are a reader of TNM you know all about JZD: they do damn good work, and are without any doubt one of the leaders in the digital media space. Every new app from the studio is another example of the state-of-the-art at the time of the app's release.

The two most recent apps mentioned here have been A History of Ireland in 100 Objects (TNM post here) and KIDS DISCOVER (TNM post here) – each was rightfully promoted by Apple as excellent example of book apps. (You can read an interview of Joe Zeff conducted by Pedro Monteiro that appeared on TNM in 2011 here.)

But most apps that are designed by JZD don't appear under their name in the App Store, but are instead to be found under the name of their clients (another thing I like about the studio). The Ireland app, for instance, appears under the name Royal Irish Academy.

But this isn't a hard and set rule: for instance Above & Beyond: George Steinmetz appears under JZD's developer account. There is also the app simply called Joe Zeff Design, which the app description brags was created in under one day using the Adobe DPS, the company's main digital publishing tool.

Late last week JZD released a new app that looks like it was created just for the joy of creating it, and possibly also as one of those things that will be used when trying to convince a client to use the studio's services – The People in the Steeple. The app is free of charge to download.

Joe Zeff Design makes its home inside a painstakingly renovated church in Montclair, New Jersey. What better place for a group of designers, illustrators and animators to find inspiration while creating award-winning apps for the iPad, iPhone and other devices? JZD invites you to step inside our studio to rummage through our stuff, track down our trade secrets, and see for yourself how we bring content to life on digital devices. It's the most fun you'll ever have in a church . . . in an iPad app . . . in Montclair, New Jersey . . . guaranteed!
I suppose one might not call this an e-book, it's to be found under the Entertainment category. But the whole e-book platform really is so diverse today that it is hard to know what to make of it. In the Apple App Store, in particular, one can find ePub and PDFs, native Xcode derived book apps, e-books that use other design software such as the Adobe DPS, and then there are those books that are using Apple's own iBooks Author. But then there are the Kindle, Nook and Kobo apps (as well as others).

JZD just calls The People in the Steeple an app, and leaves it at that. Maybe I wouldn't have included it in this series of e-book posts either had not other e-book apps appeared at the same time. But this ambiguity is partially the point that is to be made. The whole idea of what is a "book" is changing, expanding, and to me, becoming very exciting. And one of things that makes it exciting is that a good e-book doesn't have to have any text at all (see The Afronauts or The People in the Steeple) or it can be basically all text (like strategy+business collection).

If that doesn't get you excited for the future of digital publishing, well, my friend, you need a good drink.

Here is a very short walk-through video of the new JZD app. It was kept short in order to not spoil the fun of running through the app yourself, which is pretty much a virtual reality tour of their digs – or as JZD calls it, a pano-demonium. Other than the fact that I could use the clicks, there is probably no reason to view the video, just download and install the app yourself!