October 24, 2013 Last Updated 2:26 pm

Octopus Books, a division of Hachette UK, releases iBooks edition of World Atlas of Wine

Publisher uses iBooks Author to create its interactive 7th edition of the classic wine book

When legacy titles start to get the iBooks Author treatment one has to start to wonder it there is some point of line that we’ve crossed. This is actually what I expected to see much sooner – but then again, the book industry does not operate at lightning speed.

And don’t take that as criticism. On the contrary, the much slower pace of book publishing is an altogether good thing. With the web and mobile speeding things up in our lives, books remain one area where we feel we can take out time.

AtlasWine-iPad-lg2In the days when my local Borders was not a shoe store, when it was stocked to the hilt with titles, I could go to my favorite section – wine – and expect to see certain titles there. Wine books are like that, there not many new titles that are published each year, but certain books are expected to be stock year in and year out.

One of those titles in The World Atlas of Wine. I bought my copy in 1982: second edition, 13th printing. It cost $35 back then, a fortune.

The book was originally written by Hugh Johnson, one of the deans of wine writing, and who is 74 years of age this year. The new edition is its seventh, and how the book is co-written with Jancis Robinson, whose own book on wine grapes is a classic, as well.

For years, the main reason to change to come up with a new edition (imo) has always been that the previous edition gave short shrift to a region – after all, you start with France, right? The edition I own, which is 288 pages in length, contained ten pages on California, while France got 76 pages. That can make a Californian pretty upset (and I was living in Los Angeles when I bought the book). Australia and South Africa faired much worse.

In print one has to make tough decisions, but I bet you that as the years went in the section on California probably grew. Today, with eBooks, one is not as limited, and making an updated version is much easier.

Octopus Books, a division of Hachette UK has recently released an eBook version of the Atlas into the iBooks Store and it is a monster. Priced at $24.99 it is one of the more expensive eBooks you might buy, but you can already tell that it is a steal. The seventh edition is 400 pages in length and 1.29 GB in file size – a good reason to consider a 64 GB iPad Air.

AtlasWine-iPad-lgAnd come to think of it, isn’t it pretty funny that this new digital version of the Atlas is that much longer than the original, but with the iPad Air will weigh in at 1 pound – assuming you don’t put a case on the new iPad.

“Reflecting the changing nature of the wine scene, the new edition takes into account changes in climate, techniques, fashion and new regulations over the last six years,” the app description reads. “A new Australian map highlights the importance of cool-climate regions as global warming takes effect, for example, while dynamic regions such as coastal Croatia, South Africa’s Swartland, northern Virginia in the US and Ningxia in China are covered for the first time.”

“A fresh new design, a bold new ‘infographic’ illustration style and stunning new images make the visual appeal of the atlas as strong as its expert, accessible text. The world’s increasing appetite for wine is matched by a growing thirst for knowledge, which this book will amply satisfy.”

The book, as I alluded to above, is “Made for iBooks” – that means it was made with iBooks Author (and now can be read both on the Mac, as well as the iPad).

How else to do a book with maps, wine labels, and the like. In fact, one can imagine the publisher’s going even further (no, you can’t do a wine tasting through an eBoo, at least not now). I’m thinking of other examples such as Wine LR which features video interviews with wine makers, for instance. Or Edge animations that could show the wine production process – I imagine an animation showing who Champagne is made would be entirely appropriate.

And maybe this new eBook edition has some of these things, I will admit that I have not bought the new version – no room on my iPad for such a monster and so very little time right now. But this will be one of my future purchases (why, or why didn’t Hachette give me a promo code to preview the book??)

As you can see, this is where things start to get exciting, imagining the possibilities for eBooks when you don’t simply make an exact copy of the print edition.

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