Profile creates interactive Frankenstein app

Profile Books is re-inventing the “choose your own adventure” genre for the digital age with the launch of Frankenstein, an interactive app  based on Mary Shelley’s 19th-century horror novel.

The text has been re-written by Dave Morris, who has designed video games and written role-playing novels; with the app built by inkle, a Cambridge-based software and creative design company.

Despite the interactive nature of the app, Michael Bhaskar, Profile’s digital publishing director, said it was not a game. “We are not trying to compete with computer games, this is a book thing. It is about doing something interesting with the words.”

The app offers readers different perspectives and choices that, according to Bhaskar, “adapt” depending on how readers navigate their way through the novel. “The choices you make effect the story you read. It is learning what kind of character you are as a reader.”

The app launched globally today (26th April), priced at £2.99 in the UK and $4.99 in the US. Profile Books has hired a US PR company to launch the app stateside. Bhaskar said it was important for Apple to get behind the app, and for it to do well in the US to make it commercially successful. “It is hard to know what a successful app is [in terms of sales], but you know when you are not doing well enough. There is a graveyard of publishing apps out there that haven’t done anything. I want to sell a ton of these so I can get on and commission more, and hopefully develop an interactive classic list.”

Bhaskar said the story and app had been six months in development, describing Morris and inkle as partners in the project. “We’re all in this together,” said Bhaskar. The new text is longer than the original novel as it has to deal with the multiple pathways through the story. The app also features the original novel separately, as well as Frankenstein-related art.

Bhaskar said the company was attracted to Frankenstein because it was already well-known, with numerous adaptations of the original novel having surfaced both in print, graphic novel and movie formats. “Brands really matter, it can take you years to build a brand, but Frankenstein was already out there.”

Profile is currently running an online vote on the next interactive literary app, with Bram Stoker’s Dracula leading the race.