A digital publishing house specializing in creative journalism and memoir, The Atavist thinks outside the covers by providing a robust media overlay to their stories. The stories also evolve as new facts and details come to light via their content management system, Periodic Technology. It's an e-book for the post-book world.
Pros: I found it quite elegant and innovative in its ideas. The stories aim to be more informative than a standard magazine or website article but more general interest than most nonfiction books. Authors are able to insert in-line information traditionally found in footnotes and endnotes like primary documentation, photos, and things to ease the flow of the story like character guides and maps. Another cool feature is the ability to swap between audio and text versions while the book saves your place. The price point, at $2.99 for the whole shebang, seems pretty fair.
Cons: The all-inclusive package is currently only available for the iPhamily. The version I downloaded on my Nook is basically a standard e-book with a lot of color pictures, though that's still pretty innovative as far as e-books go. I have a feeling that when they come out with the Android app these stories are going to go with a rooted Nook color like PB&J, but it's not yet meant to be. It's also a boutique publisher, so the selection right now is minuscule.
EdLab Relevance: This should be applied to texts in e-learning. I had always thought that textbooks would lead the e-book revolution and it simply and sadly has not been the case. I'd love to see an academic publisher thinking like this. Class discussions and external materials could be linked into the text, ideas could be supplemented with other ideas and publications be they text or media. If we get far enough into this idea, the book could be the class while the class writes itself into the textbook.
Our Takeaway: The Atavist is on the right track. Currently, e-books are stuck in the price and audience shadow of the physical book and they could be much more. I applaud publishing people who are jumping into the deep end of the future of the book.