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They’re books Jim, but not as we know them

Hilary Fannin’s recent review in the Irish Times of a new app that re-works Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ was fascinating. The app is not unlike adventure books of old where the reader gets to interact with the text. Remember titles that gave you options such as ‘If you turn right go to p.120, turn left go to p.90’? In tablet form of course the interaction is improved with features such as annotated galleries and an easy-to-use interface.

A young reviewer was quoted on using the app that ‘You would assume it was going to be boring, because it’s old, that it wouldn’t apply any more, but when you start it you can’t stop. I went to my school library this morning to look for the actual book.’ So are old books perceived as boring? The question for our library is will this new technology and format help or hinder the promotion of 18th and 19th century texts? Happily another quote from the feature ‘I definitely want to read the original book now. I was completely drawn into the monster, what he was seeking, what his storyline will be’ would suggest the latter.

Solely in the interest of research I downloaded two tablet titles from iTunes. First off was Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The black cat.’ The app was impressive with haunting sounds and stunning graphics which enhanced the reading experience. It was created by Crocobee who also created my other download, the James Joyce story ‘Araby’ which is equally entertaining. Neither title is as interactive as ‘Frankenstein’ but both do enhance the text in a unique way.

Oh, and even better both apps are available for free in the iTunes app store. Frankenstein can be currently purchased for €3.99.

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