Faber and Touchpress have launched a ‘groundbreaking’ new app, Arcadia, to explore the future of digital reading after e-books.
Bestselling novelist Iain Pears has conceived his new work, Arcadia, to be read as an app. The novel was written using specially-commissioned software and developed for readers by Touchpress and Faber, the partners behind multi-award-winning apps including The Waste Land and Shakespeare’s Sonnets for iPad.
Pears wrote in the Guardian: “I undertook the project because I had reached the limit of my storytelling in book form and needed some new tools to get me to the next stage.”
The app presents all the possible ways Pears could have told the story, with a choice of 10 character strands. It also allows readers to approach the novel as a series of traditional linear stories, and they are granted the opportunity to switch between these tales and worlds at ease.
The reader is in control of their reading experience and can read or leave out sections as they choose. The entire story is mapped visually with each reader’s map displaying a unique representation of their journey. Different ways of reading create different relationships between the characters, this leads to a different understanding of how the stories can be told.
Known for his structurally complex novels, Pears’ previous works, including An Instance of the Finger Post and Stone’s Fall, all consist of multiple interweaving stories which “placed quite heavy demands on the readers’ patience,” Faber said.
To counter this, the Arcadia app allows Pears to “bypass the limitations of the classic linear structure” and build a “multi-stranded story”.
Henry Volans, director of Faber Digital, said: “More than anything we’ve seen, Arcadia is a natively digital novel – in how it is written, edited and read. It brilliantly showcases Iain Pears’ storytelling genius.”
Pears argues that e-books have only had a small impact on narrative structure and that they are “just ordinary books in a cheap format.” He believes that the future of digital reading goes beyond e-books.
Theodore Gray, c.e.o of Touchpress, said the ability of the Arcadia app to maximise digital innovation for books that have aspects that defy linear presentation. He said: “We have created for [Arcadia] a uniquely beautiful reading device, an app that allows you to explore the text up and down in directions that have no names.”
Arcadia was released yesterday (20th August) as a free app with in-app purchase on the App Store for iPhone and iPad, prior to the novel’s UK hardback publication on 3rd September 2015 (r.r.p £15.90).