Author Brian Hurd and Publisher Jim Norwood off and running for an entire iPad library of history

Three-month old iPad publishing software already produced book

By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
The first eBook of many by Hurd and Norwood is called “The Last Full Measure: 101 Keys to Understanding the Civil War.” Pictured above with an iPad showing one of the book’s pages are Jim Norwood, left, and Brian Hurd.

Software that was just released in January is the springboard for the publishing of an iPad eBook by Morrison County residents Jim Norwood and Brian Hurd, “The Last Full Measure: 101 Keys to Understanding the Civil War.”

Norwood, president of the new Zoomable Media, publishes eBooks for the Apple iPad and the Amazon Kindle. His dream is to use the skills and knowledge of master teachers to produce materials for the iPad that other teachers can use.

Norwood was an English teacher and technology coordinator in Royalton, and then a technology integrationist for Little Falls Community High School. He cofounded Atomic Learning in 2000 and sold it in 2008 to a group of investors.

Hurd teaches social studies and computer at Mary of Lourdes Middle School (MOLMS). He was previously a special education teacher at Sartell Middle School.

“I approached Mary of Lourdes principal Maria Becker about integrating the iPad into the school. My three children had all gone through MOLMS and I am now a ‘disinterested’ party,” said Norwood.

“Then Jim approached me to see if I might be willing to coproduce a book with him,” said Hurd.

Hurd has taught about the Civil War for several years, and has compiled an extensive Civil War library, as well as visiting many battlefields.

“It has been a goal of mine for a long time to write books,” Hurd said. “I was quite young when I knew I wanted to be an author.”

What is so unlikely about Hurd’s writing this book is that it is an electronic book. He has only had his cell phone since the summer of 2011. Less than a year after buying an iPad, an eBook he wrote for it has been published.

“If there had ever been such a vote, I would have been voted ‘least likely to use a piece of technology,’” said Hurd. “It’s been a lot of fun.”

“Schools are buying iPads by the millions after a price drop on the iPad 2,” said Norwood. “This next school year is going to be a year for sale of iPads, and there is going to be a need for content.”

The technology for this specific type of book was released in January. While following the industry closely, Norwood knew an announcement was coming then regarding the expansion in the ability to do eBooks, and he was prepared for that.

“Brian and I share a Dropbox online that we can both access,” Norwood said. “Brian saves what he writes into Dropbox and then I can access those files to put the books together.”

The book is a multi-touch textbook of 25,000 words. There are countless photos, posters, drawings, maps and more than an hour of narration in small audio files attached to each image. In addition to the text, there are highlighted glossary words, study cards, sticky notes, quizzes and search capability.

“This puts a different tool into the hands of kids,” Norwood said.

“It’s great if you can get a student interested in history,” Hurd said. “The students here were so excited to use this book. They were among the first anywhere to read a textbook that their teacher actually wrote — very cutting-edge.”

Usually books take years to publish, from the writing through the editing and printing processes. Add to that the number of people who start a book but never finish. This book was completed in less than five months.

“I knew how knowledgeable Brian was, but didn’t realize how prolific a writer he would be,” said Norwood.

Currently, every iPad has to be individually licensed; a classroom or school license does not exist.

“This is part of the ‘Wild West’ where the rules are still being made,” Norwood said. “The market is still maturing.”

Norwood and Hurd set an introductory ‘shot in the dark’ price of $9.99. After using the book in class, some of Hurd’s students purchased it and are reading it.

The copyright for this first book is held by Zoomable Media Inc. and Mary of Lourdes Middle School. They are already receiving royalties. Upcoming books will be copyrighted by Zoomable Media and Brian Hurd.

“Technology has leveled the playing field for authors and small publishers,” Hurd said. “The ultimate goal is to have a brand identification.”

“You want to be the brand in people’s minds when they look at all the choices available,” said Norwood.

For a project that began as a way for Norwood to have a book to use as an example to get Zoomable Media off the ground, it has exceeded all expectations.

“My expectations were vastly exceeded,” Norwood said. “To form a relationship with an author such as the trust between Brian and me, and to have an entire series of books coming up is more than I anticipated.”

Hurd is very dedicated to the process of creating these materials and writes like a man possessed, Norwood said.

“This is just the very beginning,” said Hurd. “I am seeing the number of books in me in the double digits.”

Teaching is more than just a job for Hurd, it is his life. He alternates teaching American History one year, and World Geography the next.

“I have spent about a year of my life outside the United States, doing research in China, Greece, Egypt, Italy and Australia — a total of 32 countries,” he said.

In 2010, Hurd was one of 23 teachers of the Holocaust nationwide to be chosen for a trip to Israel, Germany and Poland. The 25-day trip started with a visit to the United State Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. and included several days learning at the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Center in Jerusalem.

The group spent some time in Berlin, and toured many profoundly moving death camp locations in Germany and Poland.

“I pray that the level of man’s inhumanity to man that occurred during the Holocaust will never be repeated. It was the most emotional trip I’ve ever taken,” said Hurd.

The guides and the teachers had periodic wind-down sessions to deal with what they were seeing and experiencing.

“During six of the past eight summers, my wife (who teaches middle school social studies in Sartell) and I have taught conversational English and American culture to middle school students in China for a month,” said Hurd.

This summer, while his wife takes a class on the west coast, Hurd is going out to meet her by driving the Oregon Trail via automobile so he can write a book about it.

Then he will spend three weeks doing research at a college campus in Washington state for a book about the westward expansion of the United States.

On his way back to Minnesota, he will drive the Lewis and Clark Trail in preparation for a book about that expedition.

Samples of the new Civil War book are available for download at the Apple iBooks store throughout the world at

More information is available at www.zoomable