Push Pop Press: Apple Alums Launch Digital Book Maker

The ailing print-book industry has gotten a shot in the arm from the rise of e-books, which cost little to distribute and can be sold far more profitably than their dead-tree brethren. Several old school media companies have tried to ride the e-tide as well, launching iPad versions of news products designed to take advantage of the full audio and visual capabilities of tablet computers. Now a new player, Push Pop Press, is about to enter the game.

Push Pop Press was founded in February 2010 by a team that includes Mike Matas, who joined Apple (AAPL) as a designer at the youthful age of 19. The new digital book maker aims to push the envelope on what electronic books can do. That means a relatively new way of interacting with the media, centered on lots of hand gestures, pinching, and other actions now familiar to users of Apple's iOS devices.

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The San Francisco-based startup says it will allow people to ". . . explore photos, videos, music, maps, and interactive graphics, all through a new physics-based multi-touch user interface." That's fairly cryptic, but physics-based implies algorithms that enable new ways for gestures to manipulate content. The company expects its first book will be available for iPads and iPhones later this year.

Matas will be joined at Push Pop by Kimon Tsinteris, formerly a senior engineer on the iPhone team, and Austin Sarner, an applications developer who created AppZapper and Disco, among others. The Push Pop Press team is tweeting news about its products and it just got a rave review from Apple blogger John Gruber of Daring Fireball (the company purchased a promo note on the site but Gruber went out of his way to praise the startup effusively).

Push Pop Press is one of a number of startups populating the nascent digital books space, including Inkling, founded by another former Apple executive, Matt MacInnis. AllThingsD reported that Push Pop appears to have some sort of deal with Melcher Media, a New York book publisher.