Book vs App vs eBook

When we started this project; a field guide of birds of Costa Rica, we initially thought BOOK. Good old paper, pocket sized, easy to carry in the field. That was four years ago.

Noel, Bryan and I brainstormed, tested and strategized through print on demand, off set printing, interactive ebooks, in the field portability, rich content and quality of reproduction. We landed on building our own app. But that was four years ago. Amazing things have happened since on the print, app and ebook fronts. Especially in ebooks with Apple and Kindle. Enhanced ebook allows for images, audio, video, searches, links, glossaries and more.

Faster to Market

We took the opportunity to release 101+ Common Birds of Costa Rica as an ebook. It gave us the majority of the features we wanted to build into our app and short cut the coding cycle of learning (I was a programmer in a previous life so it was just a matter of picking up a couple of new languages), designing, building, testing, submitting and waiting for acceptance. And allowed us to more quickly get our ebook to both Apple and Android owners.

Behind the screen work of building a field guide


After launch, one appreciative reviewer really liked the ebook format as it was one less stumbling block, which was learning and remembering how to navigate another app. Like most birders, she has a lot of field guide apps. Each one is different, some even rely on internet access for content! Great if you are in your backyard, but some lucky folks get to wander farther afield, out of cell tower range.

She opened our eyes to an AHA moment. I invite all field guide authors to include enhanced ebook format for their future publications. The more the merrier! Let’s allow bird watchers focus on your content instead of where the search button is.

Carey Lee, Cat herder

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