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Building books for platforms, from the ground up

Jon Feldman on "Speakeasy Cocktails" and a new approach to content development.

This post is part of the TOC podcast series, which we’ll be featuring here on Radar in the coming months. You can also subscribe to the free TOC podcast through iTunes.


In this interview, Jon Feldman founder, president and CEO of Open Air Publishing, talks about the development of “Speakeasy Cocktails,” an ebook designed and built for the iPad. He says the book content was developed from the ground up specifically with the tablet in mind — each component was designed to take advantage of the rich ebook experience. Highlights from the full video interview (below) include:

  • Incorporating customer feedback took time, but was worth it: Feldman says incorporating beta testers in early development had a direct effect on navigation development. Consumer testers also tested the recipes and provided feedback. The customer feedback was important to product development, Feldman says, because it gave them a fresh perspective on what worked and didn’t work. [Discussed at the 2:50 mark.]
  • The Big Six aren’t quite getting it: “We see the big six publishing houses still haven’t embraced full-on multimedia books; they’re making books for paper and pushing out flat electronic versions as an afterthought to capture the channel without building for it,” Feldman says. He compares current digital books to the early TV shows of the 1940s, in which the radio host was pictured talking into a microphone. [Discussed at 3:53.]
  • Marketing was key to the success of the $9.99 price tag on “Speakeasy Cocktails”: Feldman says there was much leg work behind creating a recognizable brand and showing customers the value of the innovative book, separating it from the 99-cent apps and other cheap and free content. He also talks about how they settled on the $9.99 price point, as opposed to $14.99 or $19.99. [Discussed at 8:15.]

You can view the entire interview in the following video.

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