Adobe's Photoshop 3D product manager and lead engineer put out a book and as a bonus project offer a free iPad app with 15 interactive tutorials for the beginning 3D designer. This is exactly where the iPad shines and the standard print book and e-reader fail.
The book is titled 3D in Photoshop: The Ultimate Guide for Creative Professionals, by Zorana Gee and Pete Falco. It covers the 3D capabilities in Photoshop CS5 Extended.
Adobe blogger John Nack recently offered some comments by product manager Gee about the iPad app, which comprises the first chapter of the book along with the interactive animations and tutorials.
Further, the team has put together a companion iPad app that takes the first chapter of the book (basic 3D concepts) and added interactive animations to each page to help illustrate the concepts. Scrolling across will read as the first chapter of the book plus interactivity and scrolling down will introduce 15 unique tutorials (only found in the iPad app) that show you how to create all the animations directly in Photoshop CS5 Extended.
Now, this interactive chapter isn't ground breaking. But it shows clearly the difference between traditional print/e-book content and rich, interactive content that is being offered as iPad apps. These tutorials and animations are exactly what is needed for the reader to understand the concepts.
Of course, it highlights the problems with readers like the Kindle.
An excellent discussion of what is needed for creating interactive content apps can be found in Mac Slocum's excellent interview of Theodore Gray at O'Reilly's Tools of Change for Publishing blog. Gray is the author of The Elements, a seminal example of rich media served up on a tablet device.
Gray says that everything in the app must serve the content and the reader. It's not about gimmicks. He was asked about the top mistakes that traditional publishers are making in this transition.
So far the two mistakes I've seen are (1) not understanding that programmers need to be treated as top talent, just like authors and (2) mistaking gimmicks for meaningful interactivity.
Just adding something that rattles around on the page does not mean you have enhanced the reading experience or added to the user's understanding of the subject. The interactivity in "The Elements" is very minimalist, and this is one of its strengths. There were a whole lot of ideas for interactivity that we didn't put in, because they didn't pass the test of actually making the book better.
If you're considering working on an interactive app, take a look at this interview. It will be worthwhile and useful.