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The Aesthetic of Apps
By Lee Foster
In earlier columns here in PhotoStockNOTES, we have considered the book and the ebook.
The third product form in this series of possible publishing forms for your photos is the app.
What is the aesthetic of the app? Why might a consumer want an app rather than a printed book or an ebook?
My Washington DC subject appears in the app, Washington DC Travel and Photo Guide (Sutro Media). It is now in both the Apple iTunes App store and the Google Play Android store. The DC subject also exists as a co-authored printed book and as an ebook.
Consumers buying the DC app are telling me the following:
- Apps are software products and are appropriate for subjects where software can enhance the subject. If the goal is publishing a cluster of lovely photos in a coffee-table type of printed book, chances are the printed book and a facsimile ebook would be the appropriate forms.
But what if your subject benefits from being sorted and organized in several ways, as is particularly true in travel products?
My DC content can be sorted by the end user as A-Z, by Neighborhood, or by subject category, such as Museums.
For that you need software. Hence, what is appropriate is the app, or application, a software product.
- App software is evolving quickly and is complicated to develop in a sophisticated way.
Chances are the typical photographer should focus on photo-and-writing content rather than on software development.
In my field of travel, Sutro Media has effective software and has looked for partners, such as me, who have content. Possibly you can buy an off-the-shelf app software for your app content, but it may well look fairly old-fashioned within a few years.
HOW APPS WORK FOR MAPS
-Maps are an interesting aspect of app software with Sutro. If you have photo content that benefits from organizing via maps, an app may be in your future. Consumers like to know where they are in relation to their intended destination. Maps are a major enhancement. Maps can show you the photo attractions around you, for example, in a visual manner. A consumer using my DC app can see on a map all the subjects that I cover, typically, around The Mall.
- A little software enhancement in apps can go a long way. For example, in the latest Sutro software release, a consumer who likes the new Martin Luther King Memorial slideshow and write-up in my DC app can email the section to a friend. Consumers like to email friends about where they are and about their special experiences. The email shows an entry in the app, along with an opportunity to buy the app.
- Apps, like ebooks, can be bought anywhere in the world. That is a plus. Physical books can be distributed only in limited physical places where the shipping costs are manageable.
- Apps have infinite space in them for photos, as do ebooks. My first release of my DC app had 100 entries and 100 photos. Now I have 150 entries and about 500 photos. The photos appear in the app in appealing slideshows, a software functionality. The word ebook may in the future include multimedia functionality in its definition, but the general concept of ebook is still of a static book. The word app tends to mean more multimedia functionality at the present time.
- Apps have links, as ebooks can also have, but the word app usually signifies a much heavier reliance on links.
This is helpful to a consumer, especially for travel apps. For example, in my DC app, if a consumer likes my write-up and my photos of a restaurant, they can click right into the menu for the restaurant. I don’t need to project the exact information about prices. If the consumer has general guides, such as Moderate or Expensive, the consumer can look exactly at the menu, know today’s actual price, and make his or her decisions.
Paying attention to actual consumer preferences requires good listening skills on the part of the author. A successful photo author will want to make products in the form that larger numbers of consumers want.
What is fascinating is that consumer wishes are evolving, so potential authors need to keep asking consumers, “What would be the most appealing presentation of my photos for your use--a printed book, an ebook, an app, or possibly all three?”
Lee Foster has three apps in the Apple iTunes App Store. Search “Lee Foster” and up come the three in the iPhone Apps list below Movies, Albums, and Songs. Two are travel photo guides with a lot of functionality. They are San Francisco Travel Photo Guide (Sutro Media, $1.99) and Washington DC Travel Photo Guide (Sutro Media, $1.99). Lee’s third app is a travel literary book with photos, an ebook-style app titled Travels in an American Imagination: The Spiritual Geography of Our Time (IndiaNIC, $2.99)
Travel writing/photos on 200 destinations for consumers and content buyers at http://www.fostertravel.com
5,000 hi-res photos searchable and downloadable at http://stockphotos.fostertravel.com Two new photo travel guidebooks at http://www.fostertravel.com/book.html
Latest thoughts on travel at http://blog.fostertravel.com
Travel Photo Guide app on San Francisco at http://www.sutromedia.com/apps/sfphotoguide
Travel Photo Guide app on Washington DC at http://sutromedia.com/apps/DC_Travel_Photo_Guide