Each year’s TEDTalks are hotly anticipated, as the world’s premiere thinkers, businesspeople and educators get together to speak on a range of issues, inspiring current and future generations to think outside the box and make the world, and themselves, better for it. But while the online videos released during and after each TEDTalk are incredibly popular, usually spreading like viral wildfire across the internet, many people are looking for more ways to incorporate TED’s message into their daily lives. Thanks to mobile technology and the power of apps, that dream is soon to become a reality. Chris Anderson, the founder of TED, recently announced to HuffPost Books that the organization is launching an app-based TED Books series.
Speaking out of his Manhattan offices, Anderson said that the TED Books app will represent the future of books in the digital age. But this is not an entirely new venture for the company. Consumers can already buy e-books based on the TED lectures on their Nook or Kindle, or any Apple device that carries iBook, but this new service will be a full multimedia experience. The TED Books app, which launched this month and is available for both iPad and iPhone, though Android versions are already being prepared.
The TED Books titles will be presented on the Atavist platform, allowing for a completely interactive interface. Atavist was created by Evan Ratliff, a journalist from Wired, Nicholas Thomson, an editor at The New Yorker, and Jefferson Rabb, a web designer. It’s a long-form journalism platform that marries the best of current mobile technology with the classic needs of reporting and commentary. TED Books will feature a lot of the characteristics that have made Atavist so successful. Consumers can expect embedded photos, in-app links, audio/visual presentations, in-line footnotes, maps and spoiler-sensitive embedded timelines. Users will also have access to the TEDTalk that created the foundation for each e-book, with each Talk embedded within its corresponding title. And for the traditionalist, each interactive function can also be turned off, leaving only the text for a simple reading experience.
The TED Books will run 20,000 words at the maximum, and each will only be available digitally. They expect new titles to be released to the app in two-week increments. Consumers can buy a three-month membership for $14.99, or an individual title for $2.99. The membership basically gives the consumer one free title. During the first three months TED Books are available, anyone who purchases will also be able to use TED’s complete back catalog, featuring all the e-books they’ve ever released. And anyone who attends a TED conference in 2012 will leave with a free year-long subscription.
Anderson told HuffPost Books that the books, like each TEDTalk, will be idea-focused. Of course, that may date the content slightly. Unlike studying for an online masters in finance, which will maintain its value, the information gained from a TED Book is meant to be immediate. The navigation built into each book won’t age well, and it’s still unclear what would happen to past purchases if the project is shut down. But for those looking to innovate, the future will take care of itself. ‘Here and now’ is really all that matters.
Thanks to Evan Fischer for this guest post. He is a freelance writer and part-time student at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California.