This Is Not a Book: Thomas Jefferson & Apple’s App Store – ProfHacker - Blogs - The Chronicle of Higher Education

peter.suber's bookmarks 2019-03-13


"The idea behind our app was a simple one: we wanted to enable users–who we imagined as scholars, students, and general readers–to compare images of unique copies of those two early print editions of Jefferson’s Notes: a copy of the 1785 Paris edition that Jefferson presented to the Marquis de Lafayette, and Jefferson’s own copy of the 1787 Stockdale edition. These copies are among the treasures of the Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia, which was founded by Jefferson, and where we both teach in the Department of English. Jefferson’s copy of his own book is particularly interesting, because it includes hundreds of changes in his own handwriting that he made to the book over the course of the next few decades, some of which were quite substantial. While most of these emendations were incorporated in editions of the book published after Jefferson’s death, the physical object itself is locked away, a restricted library holding.

We imagined the tablet environment as a uniquely powerful surrogate for readers interested in Jefferson‘s second-, third-, and nth thoughts, who could study marginalia and at the same time access–with the swipe of a finger–a modern annotated reading text that would put the work in its context. We got a small amount of funding, the (enthusiastic) permission of the University Library to use high-resolution images of their treasures, the assistance of a splendidly capable graduate student in our department, and a local developer, Performant Software Solutions, who understands the humanities and immediately grasped what we hoped to accomplish. We edited and annotated the text, and transcribed all of Jefferson’s annotations; meanwhile Performant came up with a clever interface that allowed the user to scroll rapidly though collated page images and to swipe between the various states of the text. We knew from the outset that this would fall well short of a scholarly edition, but imagined that our app could be a good test case for using the tablet environment to put original documents in the hands of students and general readers. We planned to issue Notes for free.

But when we submitted the app to Apple for approval, it was turned down. Why? The reason the App Review Team gave (again and again) was that our app was “simply” or “just a book” (their words), and that it therefore had to be formatted in Apple’s iBooks Author program in order to be distributed through the iBookstore...."



03/13/2019, 10:38

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Date tagged:

03/13/2019, 14:38

Date published:

09/04/2013, 10:38