September 14, 2010

Books for the app generation

Stephen Fry always surprised me by his fascination with technology. Perhaps it’s the way he talks in that Dickensian way that puts him more in the 19th century rather than the 21st. But he gushes on his blog about Apple products like he’s Steve Jobs boyfriend and has more Twitter followers than Kanye West.

When it came to publishing his biography he also wanted to give it a touch of geekiness and he has done this with the app version. This interactive iPhone app lets users read his new book The Fry Chronicles using an innovative pinwheel. It uses “visual indexing” to let you read the book in an non-linear fashion. This gives you the freedom to pull together different threads from the book to read, such as people he has worked with (Hugh Laurie, Rowan Atkinson, Ben Elton) and themes in his life (addictions, Cambridge University, Blackadder, depression).

The app’s description says: “myFry takes the traditional art of the index, plugs it into the mains and brings it twitchingly to life for the 21st century.”

Will this pave the way for publishing in the hyperactive, attention-deficient world we now live in?