HC uses iBooks Author for Hobbit film e-books

HarperCollins is capitalising on the forthcoming release of the first Hobbit film by putting out a host of e-book tie-ins in a range of digital formats, including Apple’s iBooks Author (iBA).

The publisher has created five supporting titles: The Visual Companion (£8.99), The Official Movie Guide (£9.99), The Official Annual (£4.99), The World of Hobbits (£4.99), and The Movie Storybook (£4.99). The iBA multi-touch editions, made with Yudu Media, will include embedded fonts, scrolling sidebars and pop-up widgets, enabling readers to explore locations Hobbiton and Rivendell, tackle puzzles, and see how a dwarf measures up against a troll (pictured). They are also among the first digital books to take advantage of Apple’s retina-display, re-using images from the film.

HarperCollins digital product manager Sam Hancock said: “It now feels like the first time we’ve got the technology to do what we want to do in terms of the storytelling. I think in the next year we’re going to see a lot more of the creative ways we can use digital to add depth and value to the books.”

Richard Stephenson, chief executive of Yudu, said that film companies could begin using the iBA platform for these kind of tie-ins because of the potential to re-use images based on the films that take advantage of the device’s display. “Creating great iBA books like these is much easier if there is strong image content available. These books will set a trend and we see creative iBA books becoming part of the promotional mix of the film industry.”

As well as being released for Apple, HarperCollins has produced parallel versions for Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Google tablets, Nooks and the Kobo, with functionality replicated where possible. Hancock said that the greatest challenge at the moment was adapting for different devices. “There are different levels of functionality for each device that limits you in different ways, but I think the product we’ve come up with for each device is the best it can be. We’ve really pushed at the boundaries of what can be done at the moment.”

Eric Winbolt, HC digital creative director, said: “Increasingly, the publisher is able to add value by understanding how developments within technology and publishing platforms can be best leveraged to benefit our authors and their readers. We hope these beautiful titles perfectly illustrate these principles; great content married with compelling digital formats to deliver an experience we hope our audience will find to be both delightful and engaging.”

The five books are released today (8th November) in the UK, Australia and Canada, and in the US by Houghton Mifflin.

Peter Jackson’s first film in a trilogy of Hobbit adaptations is released in December, titled “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”.