The ultimate e-book on hurricanes is an iPad exclusive

The ultimate e-book on hurricanes is an iPad exclusive

Summary: "Hurricane Journey" by Jim Edds and Jeff Gammons is truly an amazing showcase of what the iBooks authoring platform for the iPad can really do. And if you buy it, it may save your life.

TOPICS: iPad, Apple, Mobile OS


Photographer Jim Edds, co-author of "Hurricane Journey: Life in the Danger Zone" for iPad.

As I write this article, I'm sitting in the concierge lounge on the 23rd floor of the Marriott Brooklyn Bridge Hotel, staring out the window at a beautiful view of downtown Manhattan.

But my thoughts wander to another place, Broward County in South Florida, where I recently migrated to after living in the New York Metro Area for some 40 years.

It's not just because I'm homesick, it's hump day and I want to go home and get some rest. It's because there's a dangerous tropical storm, given the biblical name "Isaac" bearing down on my home and is expected to make landfall as a Category 1 Hurricane on Sunday.

It's been a very long time since I've sat through a real hurricane. Needless to say, I'm about to get my memory jogged when I fly home tomorrow and get to experience it this weekend.

A couple of months ago I made the acquaitance of an intrepid photographer/videographer named Jim Edds, who had spotted an ZDNet article I had written on hurricane tracker applications. 

As it turns out, this guy is an expert on chasing dangerous storms and had a whole bunch of apps he himself uses to do his work, so I included them in an updated version of the article. 

I was curious about his work, so checked out his website, The site is loaded with pictures and video footage from 20 years of his experience as a professional storm photographer selling pictures and video to major news outlets.

Unfortunately his personal website is laid out like something from the Netscape 2.0 days written with a shareware web authoring tool and a circa-1995 copy of "HTML for Dummies".

After speaking to him on the phone, I suggested that maybe he should get himself some professional help and clean it up a bit. As I recall, he responded with something along the lines of "I'm really too busy to do that, I'm working on a book, it's coming out in a few months, I'll get to it eventually."  

I asked Jim to send me a review copy of his book when it came out. About a week ago, he contacted me and said his book was out, and it was on the Apple iBooks store.

iBooks store? Why the hell didn't he release it on Kindle? There's a hell of a lot more people who use Kindles than read books on iBooks. But ok, he gave me a download code, and I wanted to see what the heck he wrote.

What got downloaded to my iPad absolutely blew me away.

The book, "Hurricane Journey" ($9.99) which Edds Co-Authored with writer/photographer Jeff Gammons (who did all of the publishing layout and content production) is the iPad equivalent of a "Coffee Table" book, which is stuffed full of the most amazing photographs and video of hurricanes and the damage that they can inflict that I have ever seen.

In the example below, different force levels on the Saffir-Simpson Scale are demonstrated using video that Edds has taken.

If you're wondering why there's no Category 5 shown, it's because nobody on earth has managed to get daytime video of one in action yet. Edds intends to be the one to get it, and he actually invited me to come join him when he does. I have to admire such bravery, but I'm going to have to pass on his gracious offer.

jimedds1All of this interactive content is combined with some truly amazing stories of how Edds routinely puts himself in harm's way, coupled with a tremendous amount of educational material about how hurricanes form, how powerful they can get, and how the National Hurricane Center collects data about them so people who live in the path of these dangerous storms can be warned before they hit.

The book is organized into six chapters -- The Lifecycle of a Hurricane, The Danger Zone, Flying Aboard the NOAA Hurricane Hunter Aircraft, two chapters on Edds' experiences filming Hurricane Charley and Hurricane Katrina, and finally, a chapter on how to best prepare for and how to survive should you get caught in the path of a hurricane.


The entire 65-page landscape format e-book was produced in the iBooks Author program, which Apple released as part of its educational initiative earlier this year.

When it was initially released, I criticised Apple because the program and Apple's EULA restricts developing textbooks for the iPad platform only. I also feel that both the iPad 2 and 3 are too expensive to use as textbooks for children and they probably aren't durable enough for kids to be throwing around in their knapsacks every day.

I still think that Apple should open this tool up to producing content for other platforms, but after seeing what Edds and Gammons have produced, I now truly understand just how powerful and useful a platform that iBooks can be, particularly when it is applied to applications such as this.

If you own an iPad 2 or 3, and you live in an area that is frequently targeted by Tropical Storms, Hurricanes, Typhones and Tropical Cyclones, then you owe it to yourself to spend the $10 and buy this book.

I'll certainly be reading it cover to cover this weekend.

Topics: iPad, Apple, Mobile OS


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • Nice Mea Cupa but it might be too little too late. But better late than...

    As I recall, both you and Ed Bott "demonized" (hey, if were going to cite Biblical references today - Grin) the iBook program when it was introduced. And quite frankly, demonized is a fair assessment since, if I recall correctly, Ed even described Apple's EULA as "evil" and you weren't too far from that characterization.

    Still, I'm surprised that you haven't noticed the selection on iBooks till now. (Must be that open sourced fan club you and Steven belong to.)

    I've downloaded several books myself. "Amazing Olympic Stories Vol.2 - A multimedia Textbook" and "Moon Rocks" - to name a few - that really showcase what an intellectual treasure the world has been given, that is, a publishing platform for talented literary amateurs to bring their gifts to the world.

    And, oh by the way, since when in the history of commercial PC computing has it ever been a "crime" to endorse only one platform? I could cite many examples where valuable software resources were only available on one particular computing platform. That is the way it was then and that is the way it is now - business concerns are not "platform" agnostic.

    And, finally, one more arrow to sling tonight. (Just getting your frame of mind prepared for that Hurricane which I hope you, your family and your new home survived without incident - now and in the future.)

    An iPad mini (I actually like this name better which I have heard it mentioned - iPad Air - for this rumored product) will be just as durable and probably just as inexpensive as the Kindle or Nexus 7 when it is introduced. If that happens than it will be "Child Friendly" and become a good children ebook reader thus erasing one of your stated objections to the iBook program.

    You really should revisit the iBook program on it's one year anniversary and see how this "evil" human endeavor has developed. You might be surprised.
  • a children book reader

    must have solid parental controls where I should be able to restrict sites and times of day for use. Until then my kids aint getting any ipads / iphones and such.

    On the other hand, what is described looks a lot like a web site with paid access. It is cool of cause, but it is just a better mouse trap.