Free iPod book a marketing dream come true

Ipod_book Apple has sold over a hundred million of their audio players. This massive user base is the driving force behind the tsunami of iPod accessories and add-ons that have emerged in recent years. But if you’re one of the companies competing in this fierce environment, how do you get the word out and reach the horde of iPod faithful? Advertising in a free book might be just the ticket…

The free iPod Book, published by is now in release 3.0. As the name suggests, it is a completely free guide to all things iPod – and many things that aren’t. In addition to its core section "All things iPod Guide" the publication includes chapters on Apple TV, iTunes, the soon-to-be-released iPhone and many others. The topics range from the very basic – connecting your iPod to your Mac/PC – to the sophisticated – How to upgrade the hard drive in your Apple TV yourself. If you own one of these products, this guide is bound to offer you something useful.

There’s a good reason the free iPod Book is both free and huge (230 pages including the covers): it’s chock-full of advertisements from companies that either make products or services that in some way connect to Apple’s line of devices. But despite this potential conflict of interest, iLounge has provided product reviews of iPod accessories that don’t pull any punches. Many of the reviews deliver below-stellar assessments and a few are downright critical, with one product rating a "F" which according to the rating scheme means the product was "potentially dangerous"  – sorry – you’ll have to download the book to find out which one. As an aside, you won’t believe the number of iPhone accessories that are being produced, in advance, despite the fact that Apple hasn’t sold a single unit!

The book is a downloadable Adobe PDF document that is available in two formats. One is optimized for on-screen viewing, the other more suitable for printing. While overall I think this book is worth a look (and why not – it *is* free), I have a few criticisms. One of the benefits of the PDF format is the ability to embed useful interactivity for those who aren’t interested in killing trees. A clickable index that takes you right to the page or section you want to read, and a TOC (table of contents) tab that lets Adobe’s Reader show you the contents of the publication in an easily navigable tree view, are two examples. For some reason iLounge chose not to give users these options. However they didn’t forget to make every single paid advertisement clickable so that you can effortlessly visit their websites.

If the goal is to provide readers with as much value as possible so that you can claim high circulation numbers to prospective advertisers, why not make the product write-ups clickable too? Would advertisers mind? Probably. But if it generates more readers, can you really argue with it?

If you download the book, tell us what you thought.