A quick Amazon search for “Rolling Stones” will reveal no shortage of books, biographies and compilations that have been released commemorating The Rolling Stones’ 50th anniversary. It’s not surprising. Few cultural groups or institutions have endured for so long, and the Stones’ longevity is certainly worthy of recognition.
Instead of publishing a hardback book heavy enough to work out with, The eBook People have done fans a favor and published something lighter and cheaper (at $14.99) that gives a far more comprehensive overview of the band’s illustrious career than anything made from glue and paper could come close to providing.
On July 12, they released part one of their two-part series, 50 Years: The Rolling Stones – Views from the Inside, Views from the Outside. Combined, the two parts consist of 50 chapters, one for each year of the band’s existence. Part one will cover the first 25 years of the Stones’ career, and part two, which is due out in September, will span 1987 to the present. Each part totals 1,000 pages, or, if you will, 1,000 e-pages.
If the idea of an “e-book” still doesn’t sit right with you, you’re not alone; the book’s author, London-based journalist Hanspeter Künzler, felt the same way. “I’m a great fan of the printed book,” he says, “but if you wanted to do this in a printed book it would be a huge tome, whereas on your Kindle or iPad it really works. It’s not a book you would read from beginning to end in one sitting. It’s kind of a book where you dip in and pick something here and pick something there, and in the end you have a fantastic overview of the flavor of the times.”
What makes this ability to skip around possible and what makes the book unique is its content, which, instead of simply being adapted for electronic reading like most e-books, was specifically designed for an e-reader. This means that while Künzler’s expertly-written overviews, album reviews and chapter introductions provide context, the central appeal of the the book lies in its collection of rarely-seen photographs, audio of interviews with the band (and even with Mick Jagger’s mother) and digitized newspaper clippings and primary material. It is all organized by year to give the reader a more in-depth understanding of the cultural and historical context in which the Stones existed, as well as their impact on society.
“The most striking thing to me was just reminding myself just how conservative the world was when The Rolling Stones arrived, and what a huge effect they had on their time,” says Künzler. “They really turned society upside down. They basically showed their generation how to use their own voice.”
Containing such a wide variety of media, the e-book gives a far more textured and multi-dimensional “flavor of the times,” as Künzler says, than could ever be possible with traditional printed media. For a band as prolific, colorful and culturally significant as The Rolling Stones, a large but easy-to-navigate e-book like 50 Years: The Rolling Stones might be the only way to offer a truly comprehensive commemoration of the band’s career. The fact that it is environmentally friendly and cheaper, both to produce and for fans to consume, makes it all the more worth the while.