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About A New Kind of Book…

This is a blog about everything digital books can do that can’t be done in print.

It’s a look at what’s currently being done—by big publishers, by independent operators—with an occasional bit of idea-mongering about what we’re not yet seeing.

I’m interested in spotlighting others’ work, and taking a serious, respectful, and enthusiastic look at anyone who’s part of this remarkable, epochal transformation from print to digital.

I’m planning on asking a lot of questions: what’s working? what’s not? how might idea A be improved by getting rid of feature B and tweaking option C?

Part short essay space, part design scratchpad, the site will hopefully be a fun place for anyone interested in questions like:

  • What exactly is the job of a table of contents? In what ways can the traditional plain-text version be improved upon?
  • Are 300-page long business books the best way to convey the handful of truly useful ideas that many of these authors have?
  • What can information design gurus like Edward Tufte teach us about how to construct more useful, more reader-friendly documents?
  • What are shopping catalogs like J. Peterman and Lucky magazine doing to merchandise products that might also be done to showcase ideas?
  • If what we mainly do as readers is remember and interpret, how can books do a better job of helping us with the former without spoon-feeding us the latter?
  • When does embedded video improve a book and when is it just plain annoying?
  • A few years from now, when my daughters are reading on their iHolographs, what kinds of composition tools will their favorite authors be using?
  • As a recovering Chekhov, Emily Dickinson, Gabriel García Márquez, Flannery O’Connor junkie, why am I spending so much of the time I used to devote to books on Twitter, Facebook, and iOS apps?

About Peter Meyers

I help build reader-friendly digital publications. For more than two decades I’ve written about, taught, and made messages appear onscreen.

How can I help you? 

WRITING

In books, articles, and research reports I help consumers and publishing professionals understand the epic shift from print to digital. My prose is clear, punchy, and ready to read quickly (I finished my last book, the 280-page Kindle Fire: The Missing Manual, in less than five weeks). I have an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and have written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, The Village Voice, and many other publications. Books include:

  • Breaking the Page: Transforming Books and the Reading Experience (O’Reilly Media). A ground-breaking design guide explaining how books change as they move from paper to screen.
  • Enhanced Ebooks Today and Tomorrow: A Survey For Publishers and Authors (F+W Media). Covers everything from the kinds of publications that qualify as “enhanced” to a catalog of features that publishers and writers can use to soup up their ebooks.
  • Best iPad Apps (O’Reilly). This “guide for discriminating downloaders” helps overwhelmed shoppers navigate the tens of thousands of choices in the App Store.

TEACHING

Around the world and on the Web I empower others to make great publications. My speeches offer vivid tours of the new digital publishing landscape. I stock each talk with loads of examples—pulled from the hundreds of products I review to principles distilled from my ongoing research. My workshops offer highly customized, hands-on opportunities to train teams working on digital projects.

Past speeches include:

  • SXSW, Books in Browsers, Tools of Change, If Book Then, Ignite, Booknet Canada, Digital Book World

Select workshop topics:

  • Designing Reader-Friendly eBooks: Principles & Pitfalls. Learn how to turn cheap-looking ebooks into pro-quality publications.
  • Multimedia Book Apps: Design Do’s & Don’t. How do you harness multimedia’s power without overwhelming readers?
  • Digital Bookmaking Tools Tour. How to pick the right software for your team and your project.

MAKING

I help create pathbreaking digital publications. From agents and authors to startups and established companies, I identify opportunities, design and deploy publications, and fix existing productions. I co-founded Digital Learning Interactive, a pioneering multimedia textbook publisher (acquired in 2004 by Thomson Learning).

Select client list:

  • Penguin, O’Reilly, Pearson Education, Levine Greenberg

Follow me on Twitter @petermeyers or email me.