Books that don't just lie there
CHAMPAIGN – When Apple announced its iPad in late January, Theo Gray decided he would adapt his book "The Elements" as an e-book application for the tablet computer.
"I've got 60 days. Can I make this happen?" said Gray, a co-founder of Wolfram Research in Champaign.
You bet. When the iPad was released April 3, the e-book version of "The Elements" was available too.
Selling for $13.99 at the Apple App Store, the e-book proved popular and, according to Gray, made "various top 10 lists of apps you must have for your iPad."
Gray won't disclose specific sales figures, but said between 2 percent and 5 percent of iPad purchasers also bought "The Elements: A Visual Exploration" e-book application.
The e-book, like the coffee table-book before it, provides pictures and detailed descriptions of the chemical elements in the periodic table.
In March, Gray and his partners formed Touch Press, which aims to make more e-books available on the iPad.
Touch Press hasn't announced the release of any other titles. But Gray said proposals are pouring in from those with ideas for e-books.
"There's a lot of interest," he said. "People have been coming at us from all sides."
Topics are wide-ranging, from children's books to sports and music titles.
The key is finding works that lend themselves to lively and visually interesting presentations. In "The Elements," for example, users can tap the screen to pull up information, and to move or spin the illustrations. There are even stereo 3-D options available for those who use 3-D glasses.
Apple "likes their books to do more than sit there and be static texts," Gray said.
More in Saturday's News-Gazette..