In 2009 Matteo Pericoli (author of the bestselling iconic book Manhattan Unfurled) made an intensive twenty-mile journey along the River Thames, from Hammersmith Bridge to the Millennium Dome and back again. Over two years later, he finished the most astonishing document of his journey, London Unfurled: two thirty-seven-foot-long freehand pen-and-ink drawings.
The intent to do a digital edition was there from the start of the project, in our earliest discussions with the author, and when the iPad was released we all recognised that this new device would bring the intimate and tactile experience that would make a digital edition feel natural. The product development experience has been fascinating, as we’ve grappled both with how to connect the app to the printed book and how to take the drawings into a new medium and redefine the reading experience. Matteo Pericoli has been closely involved in the design of the app, bringing his author’s sensibility to the technical and user experience design challenges we encountered along the way.
London Unfurled for iPad is not just a ‘book-as-app’, rather it is a digital edition designed for the tablet. With the app we offer a different reading experience: you can scroll the entire drawing seamlessly, flipping from north to south, jumping from place to place, finding famous landmarks, zooming in on its extraordinary detail and discovering over a hundred points of interest with added facts and amazing background information. You can also share your own London story on a digital postcard. London Unfurled for iPad includes introductory essays from Will Self and Iain Sinclair, and additional text for the app from Bruno Vincent. The app has been produced by a cross-functional team drawing on editorial, sales, marketing and digital project management expertise at Pan Macmillan, and developed by agency Red Glasses.
Projects like this are not just experimental for publishers anymore – they have an immediate requirement to be profitable commercial ventures in their own right. They are still, however, a relatively new way for publishers to be working and so bring with them the opportunity to build new skills and grasp new opportunities. London Unfurled for iPad has been a thrilling project and we’re very pleased with the result. This app is both a companion to the printed edition and an absorbing and delightful digital edition itself.
James Long – Editorial Director, Digital – Pan Macmillan