Paper is an amazing iPad app—and one of our Innovation By Design nominees—because its team at FiftyThree cracked the code of making creation a simple, beautiful experience on tablets. There’s just one problem: Paper isn’t actually paper; it’s a screen.
Today, FiftyThree and Moleskine are revealing a solution called Book. For $40, you will be able to turn your Paper sketches into a custom Moleskine print. The 15-page, accordion-style, handmade "Book" marks the first time that the iconic Moleskine has ever allowed cover customization. It’s also a potential peek into the future strategy of FiftyThree, a company that hasn’t been shy about their plan to expand their purview into a whole suite of creative productivity apps.
"We still live in the analog world, but a lot of our work happens in the digital world. We’re really interested in blurring those lines," explains Andrew Allen, lead designer at FiftyThree. "Digital has never been that great for archiving things. This is a great way to print something out, archive a moment in time."
Much of Book’s appeal is that it sits seamlessly within Paper’s creation experience. Book’s pages have been formatted in a 4:3 aspect ratio to match the iPad’s screen perfectly. As a result, it requires just a few taps for a Paper user to create a Book—select a cover and 15 pages of art. It’s a process that can take seconds rather than minutes, and be customized to be a black book filled with original illustrations, or a custom-covered book filled with empty pages. That’s entirely the user’s prerogative.
Much like Paper, Allen sees Book’s potential to make people who’ve generally not thought of themselves as creatives—your typical CEOs and spreadsheet pushers—inspired by their own potential through streamlined creative tools that output a high-end product. (It just so happens that Book does this in the analog world rather than the digital one.)
But that doesn’t mean Book won’t become a hot-selling keepsake in its own rite.
"We have a lot of users who’ve made books for people. But there’s something different when you can hand it to someone, pass it hand to hand. it’s much more intimate than handing over a PDF," explains Art Director Becky Brown. "I carry a Moleskine to jot down ideas, and it’s kind of a private thing—if I saw one on the table, I wouldn't open it up and look at the ideas in it. To capture ideas in Paper and share them in a Moleksine is a very interesting thought to me."
Indeed, on the surface, Book could be the impulse purchase of choice for creatives everywhere. But philosophically, Book is just as interesting as a product, in that it plays with conventions of analog vs. digital—their duality of value, privacy, and effects of sharing on their core identity. And of course, it’s a teaser that, while FiftyThree may be setting its sights on the entire world of tablet creation, they’re building a printing infrastructure to translate some experiences to live beyond bits.