January 28, 2014, 2:30 PM

A Ted topic, in book form, on your mobile device

Ted Conferences has launched a Ted Books app for the iPhone and iPad. Consumers can buy an annual subscription through the free app for $14.99, which gives them unlimited access to short e-books—10,000 to 20,000 words—akin to the brief Ted Talks that have amassed a cult following. An Android app is coming soon.

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“Make Love Not Porn” and “The Demise of Guys.”

Those are just a couple of the titles in the assortment of digital books from Ted Conferences LLC’s Ted Books. The books, related to the Ted Conferences that have amassed a cult following, are available via an app in Apple Inc.’s App Store for an annual subscription fee of $14.99. Most can be read in a half hour to 90 minutes, Ted says.

A Ted Books app subscription gives a consumer immediate access to all Ted Books titles; the company says it publishes at least 10 Ted Books titles a year. Ted fans also can purchase books a la carte for $1.99 each through the app or Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle store, Apple’s iBookstore or the Nook store from Barnes & Noble Inc.

“The success of Ted Talks has demonstrated that millions of people around the world are hungry to absorb new ideas,” the company says. “Many of the talks create a desire to go deeper—but not everyone has the time to read an entire book on a subject. Ted Books fill that gap. With more demands than ever on people's time, we think many will welcome the chance to absorb a Ted Book on a single short plane flight or on a day's commute.”

While a traditional book is at least 60,000 words, shorter Ted Books, at fewer than 20,000 words, allow a writer to flesh out an idea in a satisfying way—without requiring a week of reading time, Ted says.

“New e-book technologies like Kindle and iPad have changed the rules of the game,” Ted says. “Just as iTunes allowed people to build new listening habits around individual music tracks instead of albums, so the new reading technologies allow instant distribution of books of any length—facilitating new, more focused reading habits.”

Consumers who read Ted Books through the Ted Books app, which for now is only available in the Apple App store but will soon be available for download in Android form through Google Play, receive audio and video extras exclusive to the app, Ted says. The app also includes integration with major social networks.

Consumers can turn multimedia features off for straightforward reading by tapping the small icon in the upper-left corner of a book’s page. A small gray triangle appears in the left side of the text column to indicate lines where multimedia features appear.

While a number of the Ted Books stem from a Ted talk, the books are not transcripts of Ted Talks, Ted says. “They are far more in-depth, allowing the readers to understand an issue more deeply and completely,” the company says.

The books cover the same topics as Ted Talks, including technology, science, art, education, design, global issues and human potential. Books accessed and read via the app are automatically refreshed if an author chooses to update the book, Ted says.  

Ted used a content management system called Periodic Technology that it licensed from Atavist Inc. for the digital books’ display technology. The system enables editors to build multimedia narratives and layouts, then publish across multiple platforms. It supports content formats for the e-book stores of Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple.

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