Title: The Survivors by Amanda Havard, Immerseditions
Platform: iOS 3.2 or later
The Survivors by Amanda Havard is the first title in an imprint of iOS-only app-based ebooks exploding the text with a rich range of additional digital content. It is is a paranormal novel with teen appeal, following a glamorous, born-not-made vampire seeking information about her origins.
The enrichment is vital to the plot rather than supplemental to the 200-odd page “Immersedition.” The more predictable enhanced ebook aspects include associated audio tracks, Google maps, and twitter and facebook profiles for the characters, but the novel really excels in the fashion arena, with a range of sketches, runways photos, and catalog images to illustrate everything from a Burberry Prorsum jacket to a Thakoon suit or Gucci boots.
All that content can be accessed in two ways, through a separate table of contents and as it occurs in the text, with linkages to enrichment indicated by a faint watermark behind appropriate passages. The author’s notes in particular make this novel feel like an enhanced version of a DVD with director’s commentary.
The narrative itself is unlikely to win any awards; the plot of full of holes and the characterization is non-existent outside the social media profiles. The ridiculously wealthy, globe-trotting immortals could appeal to fans of Melissa de la Cruz, I think it will as likely appeal to Gossip Girl readers who want to see labels jump off the page.
The app is a product of Chafie Creative, whose slogan is “Reinventing Storytelling.” This is a great first attempt at that lofty goal, but the navigation for each page requires both scrolling and swiping and the actual mechanics of turning the pages and toggling between text and enrichment is more difficult than it has to be. I do like the use of collapsable, semi-transparent windows to house content in successive layers. Chafie is a publisher to watch.
For more YALSA App of the Week posts, visit the archive.
This is an interesting start by Chafie Creative and pushes the boundaries a bit in a few areas – including the features in the app. One thing I found really interesting is the playlist that comes with the app. Music accompanies different portions of the reading experience and the fact that the author explains why she selected a particular piece of music does make this like a director’s commentary for a film. I think teens will be fascinated by that. They could debate what they would select instead or why the author’s choice is a good idea.
I wondered, well actually some librarians I was talking with wondered, would the music be updated over time as new popular, or not so popular songs, might take the place of what is currently included. That would actually help the content to remain fresh and up-to-date. (Which reminds me of an article I read a couple of days ago about e-books never being complete http://on.wsj.com/xnqnea.)
The same librarians who gave me the ideas about updated music also expressed some concern about all of the product placement in this version of The Survivors. You can see images of modern cars, read the specs, etc. Listen to and buy music. And, read about designer clothes and accessories. This is definitely similar to Gossip Girl with the difference being that it’s not just reading about the products but actually seeing them (at least some of them) inside the reading experience. Seems to me a great opportunity to talk with teens about media, advertising, product placement, making decisions, financial literacy, etc. In some ways this makes me think that this type or reading experience is somewhat like a magazine with ads.
Curious what others think.