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Apps-ing

As you all know by now, we’re a forward thinking lot here at DGLM.  And, we have been especially intrigued by the possibilities that the new technologies present for our clients and their projects.  The notion of being able to help our authors develop apps based on their books or on research and other information that doesn’t make it into their books for whatever reason, but which would have value in this format and provide an additional revenue stream for them, is an exciting one.

This piece about the success of Disney’s book apps makes it clear that this particular apps market is about to explode.  The question is what category of books make for good apps?   Conventional wisdom thus far says lifestyle and how-to books, children’s books, and textbooks.  But, what would an adult fiction or narrative non-fiction app look like?  What are some of the more unorthodox uses and approaches?  My sense is that pretty much anything goes in this world.  It’s all about how to implement.

Is this something you guys have given any thought to?  Are any of you exploring this for your own work?

10 Responses to Apps-ing

  1. Suzi McGowen says:

    I’ve got two apps, at least in my head :) My main character can smell a person’s personality and emotions, so the app would tell you what you smell like to Troll Wife.

    My story is an urban fantasy, and the fae are all around us, but we don’t notice them. The second app is a “Google Goggles” type app, where you can view something through the app (and camera) and see where the fae are located in your area.

  2. I think my knitting books would be ideal as apps. I know many knitters who store individual knitting patterns (including charts and illustrations) on their iPhones and other smart devices already. Patterns from my books could perhaps be made available individually, or maybe variations on the published patterns could be available exclusively as apps. It’s certainly an idea worth exlporing.

  3. Jocelyn Lindsay says:

    It’s fantastic that DGLM is thinking about developing novel-based apps. It fills me with joy to read this entry. 😉 So much joy that I just had to comment after months of lurking.

    Coming from a technology background, I’m constantly thinking in terms of what kind of enrichments a website and/or an app could offer readers. Readers want to connect with the worlds authors are building and the characters they’ve created. Apps and enhanced websites are a great way to bring readers further into the story world. The reader can actively engage with the world, and that engagement doesn’t have to end when the reader is finished reading the book (and waiting a year or more for the next one to come out).

    The TV show Sons of Anarchy has a great app that came out last year filled with all kinds of backstory information viewers don’t get from the show. I’d love to see this kind of technology incorporated into more novels. I’m definitely working at incorporating it into my own WIP. It’s something I deliberately think about while I write.

    Re: Suzi – What fun! Those sound like great ideas. I’d definitely download an app that showed me where the fae are in my area.

  4. Jeanne-Marie Archambault says:

    An app for research is a fascinating idea, Miriam. I’m thinking of all the maps, letters, photos, books, and artifacts that I collected or studied while I was researching my historical novel and how interesting or useful that might be to a reader who wants additional information on the subject — all in one handy device.

    It’s an ideal vehicle for offering a reader more. The occasional author interview at the end of a book is somewhat interesting, but how much more enlightening would it be to show a reader what has gone into the genesis of the book.

    Love this idea!

  5. JGStewart says:

    Apps providing additional meta-information about the world of the story seem like an obvious choice, particularly for books set in historical or imaginary worlds–imagine the Tolkien app for LOTR: maps, elvish/dwarvish/orcish dictionaries, melodies for the songs, genealogies, histories of important places, and the list goes on. Basically you’d have The Simarillion in app form…

    Makes me wonder though–if apps become an expected part of a book release (a la DVD extras), what does it do to the books themselves? Will authors write differently if they know they no longer have to strike a balance between narrative and atmosphere–if they can rely on an app to fill in the blanks? Would Tolkien be Tolkien if all the songs and linguistics and endless histories weren’t baked into the narrative?

    Me, I’d like to see apps specifically for e-readers that let the reader alter the appearance of the ‘book’. Like skins for your web browser. I want to read Company of Liars in a 19th-century letterpress font, on a vellum background, with the first letter of each chapter illuminated like a medieval scroll; and then read Zero History in some neo-futuristic sans-serif font on bright ivory stock. And I’d like to be able to pick from a variety of cover options, or better yet remix my own from a library of images, fonts, and layouts. And then upload my version to the author’s website, where other fans can vote on it, and the best one wins some kind of prize…

    But there I go again – drinking during business hours.

    ~JGS

    ps – *love* the Fae-Goggles app as well!

  6. suzy vitello says:

    In both of my careers (as a writer and as an ad girl) I’m exploring the possibilities aggressively.

    I just completed a young adult novel, The Empress Chronicles, which is based on a revisioning an actual historical character, the Empress Elisabeth of Austria. In building a digital platform, I’ve given the character a blog: http://empresschronicles.wordpress.com/; but looking ahead, I see lots of possibilities with the right e-book app. Links to various sites (Victorian corsets, let’s say, or Vienna’s Sisi Museum), but also, since the book is a fantasy with the main conceit being that a magic spell allows one to rewrite history, I can see text disappearing and reappearing on the page in pivotal chapters. Very Disney, actually!

  7. Rowenna says:

    For the most part, I like to think of my fiction reading as uninterupted by apps…but as a historical fiction writer (and reader) I would love an interactive feature where the author could share their research with the reader–not interupting the reading, but if the reader “requested” with the touch of a button, they could get interactive info on the place, time, and events described in the book. I don’t base my characters on real people, but I would especially love something like this for writers who do–popping from the fictionalized account to the historical details on the person, portraits, and a discussion from the author on why they chose to portray the person in one way or another. And maps, sketches, political cartoons…all the texture of history could weave itself into the story for the reader to discover. Umm, is my inner geek coming out too much?

  8. Miriam says:

    I love the idea for a knitting app as well as for one that will help me find the fae in my area! And, yes, the concept of being able to access all sorts of additional information and factoids in historical texts is very enticing for geeks like me.

    JGStewart brings up an interesting point about how apps might affect the way authors write. I think that there might, indeed, be some paring back on the arcana that finds its way into certain narratives. On the other hand, I think that’s just part of the evolution of literature–with authors being subject to the dictates of their time. I’m not sure Tolkien (or Tolstoy) for that matter would get away with their brand of expansive writing in today’s market.

    Thanks for all the good feedback!

  9. Jaime Kodera says:

    Appreciate it for helping out, excellent info .

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