Apps and Interactivity

One step closer to getting approved for the App Store, hooray! Soon, I hope, we’ll have a dedicated app created for Hickey of the Beast, available for both iPhone and Android. At this point, it’s just a matter of getting the folks at Apple to acknowledge that we’re real humans with a legitimate publishing interest, and paying the fees to get into the store. No idea how long it’ll take, but we’re so close we can taste it!

Presenting books as apps is a tricky thing, though. Personally, I’m skeptical of the “book as app” phenomenon – it’s an eBook, plain and simple. Why not just present it as such? An actual book app, as far as I’m concerned, has to offer something that an ePub or a Mobi file cannot.

That’s what the Hickey app aims to do – it’ll push a new chapter to your phone every week, so you don’t have to open the weekly email or go to the members-only page on the site to get your new chapter. Cool, no? I’m really hoping to be able to have serialized fiction apps available for several titles in the future, or perhaps be able to offer a short-story subscription app, where you get a short story in X genre delivered to you every week, for a subscription fee. Sort of like a book club or fiction magazine, but in the palm of your hand. Of course, that’s a lot of work and a lot of stories to come up with, but it’d be neat!

I digress. To me, the book-as-app has to offer something that plain words cannot – push content, like in my examples above, or something extra, like videos or helpful Wikipedia links in a cookbook, for instance. That makes it worth making that book into what is, essentially, software or a game. I think the ideal book-as-app is actually awfully close to being a game – something interactive, or at least not wholly static. That’s something I’d like to experiment with, tell you the truth, although it would require a lot of time and energy, and a really good author with some mad creative skillz and ability to think laterally.

What do you think about the book-as-app phenomenon? Would you want to see more interactivity in books, if it were available? Dynamic content, embedded media, things like that? Or do you want your books to stay books, regardless of the format they’re delivered in, and just give you a written story on a page (whether that page is physical or virtual)?

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  • Sam

    Interesting! I’ve been skeptical about the whole book-as-app thing, since I already have two perfectly good reading apps, but it does seem perfect for a serial project like this one.

  • http://www.candlemarkandgleam.com Candlemark & Gleam

    I think there’s a definite place for the book-as-app, and it’s not as a
    standalone thing. It needs to add something to the process, something
    you can’t get just from using the Kindle or Aldiko apps, you know?

  • Ookpik

    I would like to see embedded media where it’s relevant. Specifically, I want the songs that the author had playing in his or her head (or iPod, or whatever) while writing, and imagines when re-reading certain scenes: songs that inspired the story, songs that illustrate it, songs that are quoted in the text…

  • http://www.candlemarkandgleam.com Candlemark & Gleam

    I’d love to see something like this, but I have a feeling it’s never
    going to happen – working out the royalties that you’d have to pay the
    artist and songwriter every time the book was opened would be a
    nightmare, especially for a small publishing company. You can’t even
    sell a mix CD of “writer’s inspiration” tunes, let alone embed the songs…