The major publishers have completely abdicated responsibility for producing the digital versions of their catalogues: it’s all handed over to amateurs. You see it throughout the industry. From the typographical horror of most eBooks, through to the lacklustre iPad titles being produced. The big problem is that most publishers don’t care about the iPad or eBooks very much, whether this is an aesthetic rejection based on the publisher’s historical reverence for the printed page, or a reflection of the relatively small profits to be made on the iPad so far, it’s hard to know.
What’s happening at the moment is that most publishers are handing their major titles over to app developers who are ruining these titles with rushed, unprofessional layout and design. There is this weird situation where programmers are suddenly being given free reign to design books. We watch as publishers like Random House outsource the design of cherished titles to programmers who—despite their excellence at programming—are not designers. The complete lack of care and attention paid to the production of digital books is genuinely mystifying.
When the Alice app was released 2010, it was criticized by the New York Times for disrupting quiet and reflective reading.
Stevens responded at the time in a Fast Company interview, saying, “”The paper publishers have clearly demonstrated that they have absolutely no acuity in the digital realm, and are stuck… Working with them is a waste of energy. Imagine if Henry Ford had decided to team up with a horse stables to make the Model T.”
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