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The Art of the eBook


How do you design a book that lives not between bound covers but on the virtual pages of a tablet device like the iPad? A class of third-year design students at Emily Carr University of Art + Design tackled this problem in an assignment undertaken in partnership with epublishing company BookRiff. Students created design prototypes that demonstrated the potential integration of next-generation features like touchscreen interactivity, kinetic typography and socially-generated content.

This classroom project was part of a new research program at SIM that brings the university's expertise in communications design, media and creativity to the emergent field of enhanced eBooks. The first generation of eBooks has been dominated by the very literal representation of traditional printed pages. With the advent of the iPad and other tablet devices, publishers now envision a future in which eBooks could look radically different from printed books, and as an art and design university we are in a unique position to contribute to that re-envisioning.

Next-generation eBooks will go way beyond today's modestly enhanced PDFs and ePubs. Emily Carr's research aims to make use of the full functionality of tablet devices by creating single-title ebook applications that blur the line between eBooks and tablet apps. These eBook titles might include video, animations, kinetic typography, touchscreen interactivity and socially-generated content. In imagining how these features could be incorporated into ebooks, our research has also questioned the linear structure of conventional books and looked for inspiration in videogaming, mindmapping and other non-linear forms.

This research agenda emerged out of our partnership with BookRiff, an epublishing company launched by venerable Canadian publishers D&M. BookRiff offers a web service that allows authors to resell their work and invites users to create their own custom publications from the content available through the service. By partnering with SIM, BookRiff aims to develop innovative design approaches to the books created on their platform.

Welcome to SIM Centre

The Social + Interactive Media Centre is a new research centre that supports a wide range of applied social, interactive and design projects. Funded by a 5-year grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the centre offers BC companies a way to tap the design, creative and technical expertise of Emily Carr faculty and students.