This was the question I typed into Google as I wondered how the iPad, Kindle and other eBook readers (or rather, developers of eBooks for these platforms) might accommodate the tangible properties of books such as size, paper type, pop-up illustrations and so on, that vary from book to book and make paper books such a pleasure to touch, hold and feel.
In answer to my question Google came up with a couple of examples of projects that claim to be bringing pop-up books to the iPad. The first is Pilgrim’s Progress by Tako Games. Although entirely computer-generated the video that accompanies this eBook suggests that Pilgrim’s Progress combines moving around a 3-dimensional scene that closely resembles a paper pop-up book (the ‘cover’ of the book is a very literal digitisation of an antique leather book) with some dynamic elements such as changing text within the text box. I found it difficult to tell from the video how much of this would be controlled by the reader.
The second suggestion by Google was Alice in Wonderland by AtomicAntelope. While clearly drawing on pop-up books for inspiration this feels like it is also pushing the format into new areas by exploiting the touchscreen to trigger events and, quite beautifully, using the built-in accelerometer and orientation sensors to control visual effects such as flying cards, Alice growing and shrinking and rocking the pigbaby to sleep.
While I have to confess that watching the Alice in Wonderland video made me wish I owned an iPad so I could play with this, I also wonder – if every book feels like an electronic device then, however visually compelling the eBook, won’t this somehow feel like a sensory reduction of the reading experience?