Neal Preston's new iPad book, released Monday exclusively as an iTunes download, is a coffee table book on steroids. It is full of pictures with accompanying text by Preston, the only official tour photographer Led Zeppelin ever had. Interspersed are over 80 proof sheets, allowing you to see the shots that surrounded a given picture or that never made the cut.
As for the pictures themselves, while there are “over 100 previously unpublished images," Preston has taken more iconic Led Zeppelin shots than anyone else, possibly than everyone else combined, and he includes most of those as well. Think of a Zeppelin picture you know and love - Jimmy Page in his stormtrooper outfit; Robert, holding his arms outstretched at Knebworth; John Bonham, in bowler and white overalls, waving to the crowd after Moby Dick; Jimmy getting off the helicopter at Knebworth; Robert holding the dove; Bonham, again in bowler and coveralls, giving a peek of his underwear &tc. - and there's a chance Preston took it and it's in his iBook. Pictures and text, put together as a coffee table book, would make a great piece for your living room.
With the use of Apple's digital book creation app, however, the coffee table book becomes an adventure. Preston has added video commentary of himself and others telling stories of the road, plus a number of pictures have Preston’s own audio commentary on a given picture. Add to that the ability to enlarge a picture or scroll through series of pictures at the touch of the screen, and you have an interactive coffee table book that you can take anywhere.
Preston has also used the iPad’s high definition screen to full advantage, scanning the original slides in high quality. Every picture in the iBook jumps off the screen with clarity that’s, at times, breathtaking. Sound and Fury is a journey through Led Zeppelin’s performance career and latter tours, full of pictures that cover each member of the band, on stage and off.
On the downside, as noted before you must have an iPad to view the book - according to my downloader, it will not work on iPhones - and is a very large file, over 800 mb. If you have an 8-gig iPad, that’s a lot of your storage space. It took over 20 minutes for me to download it, so it’s not something you can grab on the fly like you can with other books, and you really need a wifi connection to download it at all. That said, for $9.99 it is great value for a great book.