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The Kindle, and later the iPad, have sparked a huge interest in e-books, but most merely replicate what we’re used to on the printed page. Well, that's not good enough for our former vice president. Al Gore has worked with Push Pop Press to produce something different: a digital version of his book Our Choice that takes advantage of the unique technologies offered by Apple’s iPad, iPod touch, and iPhone.
The result is something that wouldn’t be replicable on the current Kindle: not only is the book covered in pictures, but you can drag them to make them full screen, see where in the world they were taken (as long as you’ve got an online connection), and some are accompanied by a short audio track. You’ll also find videos and interactive charts that make the whole experience a real joy. There’s even a brief tutorial at the start to teach you the gestures you need to know to enjoy this book to its fullest, although if you’re comfortable with the iOS touch-based interface, you won’t get lost even if you skip it.
The app still has room for improvement, though: most of the narration is done by Al Gore himself, but his tone is rather…monotonous. (Surprised?) There is no index or search field to find information quickly, and you can’t highlight or copy any section. Worse still is the fact that the initial download merely gets you the video introduction and tutorial. Everything else needs to be downloaded from within the app itself, so don’t purchase it on your way out the door. Once you’ve got all the chapters, you can read it anywhere, Wi-Fi or no Wi-Fi.
The book’s content is very clear and laid out well, offering people with little to no knowledge of global warming ideas of what they can do to help alleviate the problem. It won’t give you all the information, though. If you’re interested and want to know more, you’ll have to do further research elsewhere. But it’s a great resource to get a general feel of the challenge our planet is currently facing. Unlike An Inconvenient Truth, most of the book centers around solutions to the problem as opposed to the problems themselves, making it a very positive read.
The bottom line. If you’re looking for a perfect example of what e-books can and should look like, Our Choice is the app to get. And you may end up with a few ideas on how to help save the planet along the way -- a win-win situation.
iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, 3rd- or 4th-gen iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 4.2 or later
Beautiful and highly responsive interface. Information is clearly laid out. Full of interactivity.
No index or search field. Inability to copy information. Need to download all the content after your purchase.