Like exploring? Like guidebooks? Got an iPad or iPhone, or either the Safari or Google Chrome browsers on your computer?
If yes, here’s something that both your techy and adventurous sides might enjoy: Interactive outdoor guides, published by FalconGuides.
What they are: Enhanced digital books (EDBs). Beyond simply reproducing a guidebook’s content in a digital format, these interactive versions add extras not found in print editions.
What sort of extras? Slideshows; point-by-point trail tours, some with pop-up photos (see example below); search capabilities; hyperlinks to external resources; instructional videos in how-to books; note-taking capabilities; note-sharing with other readers (to update trail conditions, for instance).
Where they work: On an iPad (the ideal viewing platform, Falcon reps tell me), an iPhone or on a computer equipped with the Safari or Google Chrome browsers.
It serves as an app on Apple devices. No Android version exists at the moment.
Sample view of a trail tour; pop-ups appear when a numbered point is selected.
Who makes them: FalconGuides, in partnership with Inkling, a publisher of interactive books. Inkling was founded by a former Apple exec and created with an interest in fostering learning. It started with textbooks and expanded into other book categories. Its partnership with Falcon is its first foray into adventure guidebooks.
How to acquire a title: Buy a card connected to one of a dozen FalconGuides EDBs titles now available. (List below; REI is the exclusive retailer at the moment.) The card includes a code that grants access to a download (from Inkling) of your chosen EDB.
What’s available: The initial titles include trail guides, instructional books, even the most popular cookbook REI has ever offered:
• Hiking Glacier and Waterton Lakes • Trail Tested: A Thru-Hiker's Guide to Ultralight Hiking and Backpacking
Why take this approach? A few words from the guidebook publisher: “We just thought that this platform was good for us,” says Pieter van Noordennen, chief digital dude at FalconGuides.
“It was built for learning, and we thought our editorial content was a perfect fit if we could build ebooks that are interactive and have a responsiveness to the person reading them. That increases the learning quotient. It’s a little more engaging that a regular ebook.
“When it comes to learning content or highly graphic-intensive content—a hiking book, an instructional rock-climbing book or even a cookbook—just reproducing the book in digital form, where it’s flat and doesn’t move around, is not the most engaging experience. Expectations are higher when you’re on digital devices. That was our focus, and we’re excited to see what readers think.”
How they look: Additional screen captures are displayed below.
View of the digital table of contents from Hiking Yellowstone.
Note-taking capabilities on display; enhanced digital book: Lipsmackin' Backpackin'.
Sample of an enhanced instructional image from the book Training for Climbing.
Note: The REI Blog was furnished with an access code to Hiking Yosemite for the purposes of preparing this post.