A life’s journey: Photographer Ian Coristine’s new book an ‘experience’

By Kyle R. Hayes
Associate Editor

Ian Coristine has an interesting relationship with serendipity.

His name conjures a sense of celebrity along the St. Lawrence River, where his work resides in dozens of “cottages,” as their owners call them, on private islands that dot the seaway.

Though none of this celebrity status would have been achieved without one fateful flight, an adventure driven by nothing but a few grown men looking for a day of fun in their airplanes.

That flight is the opening chapter, titled “The Beginning,” in Mr. Coristine’s latest book, his memoir, “One in a Thousand.”

The title is one befitting of the content within its pages. The island that Mr. Coristine owns, called Raleigh, is one of the 1,000 islands in the St. Lawrence River, the flight he took in his discovery of the islands was one of many he’d flown before and the opportunity to publish his book was the result of a one in a thousand chance of meeting the right person at the right time.

“The honest to God truth is this: I’m all in,” Mr. Coristine said in a phone interview from his island. “Everything I have ever done here is in this book. This book is the best it can be, there are 12 years of photography in it, the story of my life, the story of my island.”

“One in a Thousand” is a collaborative effort between Mr. Coristine, a former Formula race car driver and now award-winning book publisher, Donna Walsh Inglehart, an author and teacher, the band Great Lake Swimmers, and a team of app developers at the McLellan Group. The book, which is considered an eBook, is an interactive experience that combines the photography of Mr. Coristine and his story as told to and edited by Ms. Inglehart, with the music of the Great Lake Swimmers. Add in interactive maps, audio readings by Mr. Coristine at the beginning of each chapter, and photo slide shows, and what has been developed is what Mr. Coristine calls a “ground breaking” introduction into the digital revolution.

“I had a whole bunch of really interesting pieces, with video footage from the plane and a relationship with this amazing band, but I knew I didn’t want it just as a Kindle book or PDF reader like a normal eBook,” Mr. Coristine said.

The problem was that there was no software available that suited Mr. Coristine’s vision. That’s when Douglas McLellan came into the picture.

“I had seen this brilliant photo of stars over the river and it was one that Doug had taken for Thousand Islands Life magazine,” Mr. Coristine said. “So I phone this guy up, he also has an island on the river, and we had a long conversation about the future I saw in my book.”

Mr. McLellan is the founder of the McLellan Group, a Toronto-based integrated communications firm. His business, as he said, is to be “strategic storytellers” for the brands he calls clients.

“We tell stories, it’s what we do, and after I heard Ian’s story, we looked at the fact that there were skills we had [at McLellan Group] that were perfect to bring together this kind of project,” Mr. McLellan said. “We loved the idea of doing a book, but one didn’t leap out right away; one didn’t leap out that we could throw our hearts and souls into. Then we met Ian.”

The process for developing the app began Jan. 5 and the team submitted the final, edited version to Apple Inc. for inclusion in the Apple App Store in April.

“The entire experience was pretty collaborative between our team and Ian,” Mr. McLellan said. “We had as many as eight members of our team working on it for a good 12 weeks. Sometimes there’d only be one or two people working on it, but then these huge flurries of work and ideas started coming.”

The final product came to fruition on May 1, when the book became available to the public in Apple’s App Store for iPad, iPad 2 and iPad 3. The app costs $8.99. The day of its launch, the book ranked second on the top 10 list of Paid Book Apps, one below “Tips & Tricks – iPad Secrets”

In total, the app includes 300 pages of text that encompass Mr. Coristine’s life from the time he was a high-tech entrepreneur to his serendipitous flight down the St. Lawrence and ending with the tale of publishing his massively successful photography books. It also includes 450 images, some never before published, interactive maps of the Thousand  Islands region, 20 minutes of video, two Great Lake Swimmers music videos and 18 exclusive Great Lake Swimmers instrumental tracks.

Visit www.oneinathousand.ca/wdt to purchase a copy of “One in a Thousand” in the Apple App Store.

When asked if there would be another book, Mr. Coristine never went back on his promise that this is it.

“Every picture and video I’ve done is in that book,” Mr. Coristine said. “I sold my plane, so the plane is gone, the video is in, the music is in. This is it.”

As for the platform in which his story is told, this is just the beginning.

“We are already talking to a few other authors who expressed interest in what we were doing,” Mr. McLellan said. “We look at all projects that we do and assess their potential. It’s almost guaranteed to do more, it’s such an immersive storytelling and learning experience in which you give the reader control.”