This is the most exciting time of my career,” said Hugh Levin, the 40-year publishing veteran who has spent the bulk of his career with illustrated books, including as founder of Hugh Lauter Levin Associates. His new venture, Artepublishing, bridges the traditional (high-quality illustrated books) with the new (iPad) in the form of enhanced, interactive e-books.

“E-publishing makes it possible to present more information than in printed books at a much lower price,” Levin said. “The prices can be lower since e-publishing eliminates some of the challenges of illustrated book publishing such as printing quality, inventory, returns, shipping, out-of-stock situations, and accounts receivable.” Another benefit: the concept-to-publication time line is dramatically reduced. Artepublishing, like its first title, Great Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings: The Musée d’Orsay, began about a year ago. Whereas illustrated books Levin used to work on typically had a two-year track, the Great Impressionist e-book will release on July 14 in the iBookstore—roughly 12 months after its conception.

The e-book, which features scalable reproductions of 200 paintings by 26 major artists (as well as three hours of audio commentaries and hundreds of hyperlinks), was developed much like a printed book, and indeed, one of Levin Associates’ bestsellers was a Musée d’Orsay book. The differences begin after the InDesign layout design stage, incorporating things like audio commentaries and coding instead of focusing on printing and shipping. Fixed layout is essential for Artepublishing, which is why the iBookstore is its only retailer, for now. Without fixed layout, Levin said, “the illustrations and the appropriate text may be separated and the ‘feel’ of an art book is lost.”

Abrams is distributing for Artepublishing. “It would be very difficult for a small e-publishing company to have agreements with all of the e-book retailers and stay up to date on technology and procedures,” Levin explained about his decision to work with Abrams. And in its role as a distributor Abrams provided feedback on editorial content and design.

According to Levin, the mission of Artepublishing is “to present as e-books what have been called coffee-table books and to do so with enhanced content at reasonable prices.” At $7.99, Artepublishing’s Great Impressionist e-book fits the goal. Levin, who works by himself using freelancers, plans to do three titles a year, with the hope of expanding to a dozen titles annually, if the market develops. For the fall, he already has two more titles lined up: Key Documents in American History from the National Archives and Great Photographs from the Library of Congress.