On the road again (with a Clarkson app)

On the road again (with a Clarkson app)

Open up the Jeremy Clarkson app and you're straight into his lair. The scrolling home screen is set up as his study, complete with leather chair, roaring fire and smoking ashtray. The graphics are sharp and you can tap through on any of the framed car portraits that adorn the walls, finding Clarkson's reviews, photos, videos and stats—as well as a "verdict", such as that on the Porsche 911 GT3 - "You don't need humour when you're this hardcore".

The reader can join in to rate a car, with a star rating emerging from other online user ratings. You can also tap on interactive 'play' type elements, with a roaring polar bear, firing AK47s and a links to the Wikipedia entry on Clarkson favs, such as engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel and actress Kristin Scott Thomas.

Penguin released The Book of Cars app for iPad this week on the App store, the first his car review books have been available in this way. It's priced £7.99 - which at first thought seems quite a hefty amount. But there is content pulled from his books Don't Stop Me Now and Driven to Distraction, 140 car reviews, more than 500 images, 20 videos and 10 audio features. I can see that you could happily tap away for hours on this, with enough information to immerse any petrol head - though with no real surprises on that score either. All the content is very digestible, and the graphics work so smoothly - not a hairpin bend in sight.

Two other elements are on offer - both quite gimicky, but also quite fun. With the iBumper you can choose between six different offensive number plates, such as "Is your skirt tucked into your knickers?" and the to-the-point "What a tool!", and enlarge them on screen, presumably to flash from your back window as you leave others for dust. The other instantly generates an email of complaint to the transport minister, with spaces for you to fill in how long your journey took, in comparison to how long it should have taken.

Penguin worked with Dare, the digital creative agency also behind myFry, on the app and executive creative director Flo Heiss sums up quite well the appeal of iClarkson: "Buying a Clarkson book is one thing, but stepping into a room full of articles and objects to explore is quite the treat for the 'Clarksonphile'."

Its Clarkson's personality as much as his opinions that appeals to his fans - and the app, with the interactive elements of the study setting, encapsulates both. In amassing such a lot of content, I don't think this can fail to rev up Clarksonites - who are likely to be quite gadget-savvy too. This kind of offering, mixing bullet-sized bits of info, with longer reviews, videos and chunks of personality, shows exactly why big-name non-fiction is perhaps the most immediately well-suited content to this digital format. According to Penguin, the man has sold 7 million books in the UK - it'll be interesting to see how this translates into app purchases.