Article in eReaders & ePublications, Technology, iPad, The Pump categories.

The Pump: Open Air Publishing – A Betterbook, A Better Experience

It’s time to say “so long” to instructional books that are just words on a screen or letters on a page, and to say "hello"…

While most office employees gather around the water cooler, we prefer our libations to be of the unleaded and premium petrol variety.  “The Pump” is our weekly look at a key member of the Fueled Collective, Fueled’s new shared work space just south of Houston in New York City.

It’s time to say “so long” to instructional books that are just words on a screen or letters on a page. That’s because Open Air Publishing has introduced a better way to experience the e-book and, appropriately, it’s called Betterbook.

What makes a Betterbook?

Their website describes a Betterbook as “a beautifully designed, fully interactive how-to guide for grown-ups.”  Each subject – ranging from dog training to cooking to wedding planning -- is a lavish, interactive multimedia presentation.

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Open Air published its first Betterbook, Speakeasy Cocktails, for the iPad in 2011. In just two years the small team of six has published 11 e-books with two more titles about to launch. “We all wear a lot of hats in the development of each title,” said founder Jon Feldman. “Everyone helps.”


Ready, Set, Baby! is a parenting guide to a baby’s first year and includes more than two and a half hours of video. Open Air created this new-parents e-book in just nine months — how appropriate! “That’s really fast when compared to the traditional publishing timeline of three to four years.”

Betterbooks can be purchased from Apple’s iBookstore for use on an iPad or iPhone. They’re also available from for use on their Kindle e-readers or a computer screen via the web.

Open Air’s newest Betterbook title, Investing Made Easy: A Beginner’s Guide to Growing Your Money, was released as a text-only book on Kindle. Open Air will be using feedback from this release to find out what video content the community would like to see.

What Makes It Better

As William Glassner told us, “We Learn . . .
10% of what we read
20% of what we hear
30% of what we see
50% of what we see and hear
70% of what we discuss
80% of what we experience
95% of what we teach others.”

Which explains why Betterbooks are … better. Open Air’s instructional e-books utilize all available tools available to cover each topic in the best ways possible. Every e-book employs video and interactive technology. For example, Master Your DSLR Camera explains the perplexing concept of depth of field by using chess pieces (see below).  The user will see how the focus shifts (along with the viewer’s attention) from the foreground to the background and back, providing a sense of three dimensions.


Open Air chooses the topic they want to address then hires experts in that field to write content and possibly appear on screen.

“With YouTube you never know what you’re going to get,” Feldman said. “It’s not curated and tends to be low quality. If you’re learning about something as important as car seats you don’t know who’s teaching you.” As noted, Betterbook users learn from experts who usually charge hundreds of dollars for training fees.

The idea of Betterbooks came to Feldman when he started reading e-books on his iPad. For him it was “just like reading paper on a screen.”

“E-books were completely one dimensional in their original form,” Feldman adds. “I thought there was an opportunity for a new type of company that could be digital first and think about the experience.”

Unlike printed books, Open Air doesn’t have to worry about creating a book on the basis shelf appeal and perceived value. “We include everything our consumers want and need to know; no more, no less,” said Feldman.

Right now Feldman is focused on doubling his team and tripling his company’s output over the next year, goals that would be unimaginable to a typical publisher. However, this isn’t your ordinary by-the-book publishing company.  It’s a whole new chapter in publishing.


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