Reed Young on Power Platon

News July 18, 2011 9:05 am

I’ve embraced this iPad revolution on all fronts, but I never imagined that it would leave coffee tables barren of art books. Publishers like Taschen and Phaidon have made buying a book the size of a mini fridge affordable for more people, and I didn’t think that would change. But the other day I almost gasped when I noticed Platon’s book called “Power” in the featured section of the app store, it cost $9.99. My first thoughts bordered on anger. Who in their right mind would publish an art book on an iPad? And even worse… who the hell would buy it!? So I did just that.

The printed version of Platon’s “Power” cost $35.00 and its dimensions are just slightly bigger than an iPad. It’s beautifully designed and printed by a company in New Zealand called PQ Blackwell. It also doesn’t hurt that the images are stunning. Platon has always been a photographer who’s style I admire. But I have to say this is my favorite of all his work. That said, I was still bummed to see that it was for sale in the app store. You can view so much more in the politics section of his website. Albeit a lot smaller than you can see them on the iPad, but why would anyone pay for the app over buying the printed book?

 

from the Apple App store

from the Apple App store

from the Apple App store

There are very limited interactive features in the application and the only one that makes it interesting is the commentary by Platon himself. He speaks about his experience during the portrait sittings and the most memorable being about the shot of Vladimir Putin. He speaks about the process he went through to get the shot. To summarize: he waited in a Moscow hotel room for 5 days, and on the sixth day he was driven to a dark forest where he was asked to open all of his equipment bags at gunpoint. With snipers surrounding him and standing in a snow bank, they looked through his bags for an hour and half. Then he waited in a room for 8 hours before he was told he could set up the shot. It’s the small stories like this that almost make it worth the 10 bucks. If I had the choice to do it over, would I? Probably not, but it is just the cost of a cheap lunch.
On a side note: I believe that if you purchase the original content in printed form, you should have access to the digital version for free. Yes, I know how expensive it is to produce these apps. And I realize that small companies like PQ Blackwell simply can’t stay afloat if they don’t charge for apps. But it’s a different story for larger publishers (especially magazines in huge holding companies). Charging extra for the digital version rightfully gets an app bludgeoned in the review section. The New Yorker was one great example: It was initially charging extra for the digital version, but it’s since changed its policy.

 

from the Apple App store

from the Apple App store

 

Also consider this: Many publishers have complained that Apple takes 30 percent when selling through the app store. But a few weeks ago the president of Hearst Magazine enlightened me. He pointed out that with newsstand copies, Hearst doesn’t acquire any information about who is buying its magazines, and it only collects 55 cents on the dollar. “We’ll take a 70-30 split any day of the week,” he said.

(Reed Young is a photographer based in Brooklyn. See his work, here.)

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