Ahead of its hardback publication on September 3, Faber & Faber have launched the iPad app of bestselling author Iain Pears’s Arcadia. Their first novel to have been written primarily with digital readers in mind, Faber believe it to be the first book of its kind in existence.
There have been many digital innovations in the book world over the past few years, with apps coming out to provide insight into pre-existing novels, poems or non-fiction books. Faber & Faber themselves developed a successful iPad app which allowed users to interact with TS Eliot’s 1922 poem The Waste Land. But Arcadia is the first title Faber has published where the app is intrinsic to its reading, rather than a supplement to the hard copy.
Arcadia was envisaged first as an app, and presents all of the ways Pears could have chosen to tell his story. While the hardback is 180,000 words, the app comes to 250,000, offering additional stories and expanding those told in the hardback. There are 10 character strands for the reader to follow, including a girl who finds herself in a new world and a scientist who is trying to disprove the existence of time. Some stories are folded within others: one strand involves an author writing a spy novel, and the reader can choose whether to follow him or the characters he has created.
Each of the plot lines can be read one after the other, or the reader can flit between them, focusing on a single strand and missing out sections if they so wish. This approach – which is similar to the Choose Your Own Adventure genre for children, where readers become the protagonists, making decisions which affect the outcome of the story – is intended to allow each reader to develop their own unique relationship with the text, progress of which is tracked and presented visually by a map.
“Arcadia is, first and foremost, a story,” said bestselling author Pears at the Frankfurt book fair in 2012, “but to work it needs the flexibility which only a digital format can provide.” A year later he told the Guardian, "there is no reason to think the printed book will be the defining literary format. I don't want to be cautious any more. This is about changing the fundamentals."
The Arcadia iPad app is is launched yesterday, and will be published in hardback and ebook formats on September 3
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