July 20, 2010
Today Ken Follet's The Pillars of the Earth was released as the first amplified edition for Apple's iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. Publisher Penguin Group and Starz Entertainment collaborated to create the interactive e-book, which includes text, videos from the upcoming Starz miniseries Pillars, and supplemental information much like the "making of" features included on DVDs. Although it's not the first e-book to incorporate video, Pillars of the Earth is the first to join portions of a current mini-series with the book on which it is based.
"The Amplified Edition offers a truly integrated multimedia experience of Ken Follett's imagined story," says Molly Barton, Penguin's director of business development in an AP article . "The Amplified Edition brings you the imagery, architecture, music and clothing from the time period while also offering readers the chance to explore the process Ken Follett went through with (miniseries producer) Ridley Scott to bring his story to life on screen."
"This is a fantastic way to keep the consumer engaged in the iPad application, the series and the book at the same time," Ferrell McDonald of Starz Entertainment is quoted in USA Today .
This collaboration is a smart move for Penguin, taking advantage of the upsurge in e-book sales and the popularity of Apple's products and demonstrating an understanding of how consumers are using media. Such ventures may boost sales, but only large publishing houses may have the resources for similar muti-media editions.
Assuming multi-media edtions become popular, what will be the effect on writers trying to break into print? To what extent will publishing houses focus their production on new avenues for known winners like Follet's 1989 novel? If new authors choose to bypass traditional routes and self-publish electronically, will their text-only works be overshadowed by amplified editions?