Dispatches from the Digital Revolution

When an atlas comes alive

By Appazoogle guest blogger, John Rodzvilla

Last Friday, March 16, the same on-sale date as the new iPad, children’s publisher Barefoot Books announced a new app for the iPad based on their acclaimed world atlas. The app was created by Barefoot Books and Touch Press, one of the premier developers of applications for the iPad.

In September of 2011, Barefoot Books released the Barefoot Books World Atlas, which gave children a sense of how culture and nature interacted across the world. The book was a traditional, lavishly illustrated atlas with several whimsical maps from David Dean. It was very reminiscent of the classic children’s atlas.

The globe beginning of Barefoot Books' World Atlas iPad app


The app that was released on Friday takes the atlas beyond the printed book in a way that few book-based apps have been able to do. And it does so at a price below the printed book: $7.99. The atlas starts with a 3D globe of Dean’s hand-painted atlas. From this globe anyone can spin and zoom to a specific region or country. Once a country or region is chosen, the real interesting aspect of the app is apparent.

The entries from the book are presented with the option for spoken narration from the author, Nick Crane. The entries also include several photographs, 3D rotations of historical and cultural objects from the Royal Geographical Society, and live country facts from Wolfram|Alpha.

Like the Waste Land app that Touch Press previously released, this atlas gives children something that is more accurate and more interactive than most educational tools out there. It’s unfair to compare it to a book, as it improves the concept of a traditional atlas. The beauty is still there (and the hardcover is also still available for those who want a physical representation,) but instead of data current at the time of publication, the child gets current data (including the weather in the country at the time of viewing). This app represents how publishers can take their products online and maintain a meaningful and differentiated experience.

Barefoot Books created a beautiful demo video showcasing the features of this iPad app. It has to be seen to be believed:

John Rodzvilla is the ePublishing Consultant for Ploughshares and the Electronic Publisher-in-Residence at Emerson College. When he’s not teaching digital things, he’s most likely digging through old magazines looking for forgotten material to convert into ebooks.

2 comments on “When an atlas comes alive

  1. Pingback: Digital kids « appazoogle

  2. Pingback: ‘Tis time for Shakespeare in ebook land: Two new adaptations of the bard’s classics « appazoogle

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This entry was posted on March 26, 2012 by in Culture, News and tagged , , , .

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