In January I took a motorcycle ride from sea level to the top of highest mountain in Panama. Normally I film these adventures and post them on my YouTube channel. But in an effort to better monetize my content I decided to turn this adventure into a book. The ride up the volcano was the most difficult road I had ever attempted. I dumped the bike 15-20 times on the steep, rocky road. It was a horrible, exhausting, dangerous ride, and everything an adventure should be.
I have often been asked about DVDs of my videos or a book of my adventures. I feel DVD is a dead format, and I couldn’t share my videos in a book. When Apple announced iBooks 2 it sounded perfect for what I wanted to do. I could keep my videos in the format my fans already expected, short interesting clips about my ride, and tell the story in great detail. Sharing my photos and video all in one place makes for a really cool experience. Not only can I share more information about my ride in a iBook. I can also price it much lower than I could a physical DVD that needs to be burned and shipped. The customer gets a better product for a lower price.
I downloaded iBooks Author and got to work. The program is stupid easy to use, and I when I previewed my book on an iPad it looked so good I could hardly believe I had created it. Tapping and pinching the photos and videos to make them full screen was very cool.
The iBook is an experiment for me, and too early to tell if it will be successful. But I am excited about this new way to share my adventures with people. I plan to continue posting regularly to my YouTube channel. I love the interaction I can have with my fans in the comments section of the videos. It’s also good way to continue building my fan base so when I put out another book hopefully some of them will be able to buy it. Posting to YouTube is also a good way to get some free advertising. I created this video preview so people could get a feel for what’s inside.
I noticed a few drawbacks to iBooks 2. The books must be viewed on an iPad. No iPhones/iPods. You can’t even download the book to iTunes and read it on a computer. This is a bummer because it limits the amount of people who can buy the book. I hope it’s something Apple changes in the future. The other challenge I ran into was the 2gig file size limit. Because my book relies heavily on video I had to compress the footage to 480p to keep it under 2 gigs. It still looks pretty good and I haven’t heard any complaints about video quality yet.
Although there are a few drawbacks the benefits of interactive books are exciting. The iBook 2 was released with a huge emphasis on education. But I see an exciting new form of entertainment, a better way to tell a story. Science fiction writers can design 3-d models of far away galaxies and pop them right into the book. With a few taps the reader can see what planets look like and get a sense of the distances involved. Introducing new characters could be done via short video clips with an actor who matches the description of your hero. Readers will be immersed into the story in a way never before possible. Imagine an interactive detective novel where the reader conducts the the investigations, and their choices have a direct outcome on the story.
Video clips of characters and places in the book may take away from the readers ability to imagine, an idea that not everyone will love. But it feels like the future to me, and this new type of media rich book could be just the shot in the arm the book industry needs. More exciting books, leads to more exciting book sales.
If you have an iPad and want to check out my book “The Volcán Barú Adventure” head to the iTunes store and give it a look:
Ride Safe. Travel Far. Do It Soon.
Ryan Grassley is a motorcycle adventurer and self taught film maker. He has ridden From Utah to Panama and back, a 13,000 mile trip through nine different countries. And around the U.S. on a 7,000 mile trip. Currently he lives in Panama and stays busy exploring the country on his Kawasaki KLR650. He documents his trips on video and shares them with the world on his YouTube channel, HalfThrottle.