iPad app ebook
Production credits: Gutenbergz Inc
Launch date: 16th December 2012
‘Sherlock Holmes for iPad’ packages five of Arthur Conan Doyle’s popular Sherlock Holmes stories into a digital format, and embellishes them with music, artwork and even some interactive parts.
Different music accompanies individual books, stirring the reader into the mood and atmosphere of the rainy Baker St. of the late nineteenth century, but this dramatic ‘movie-style’ backdrop may grate on users after a while. Thankfully it’s easy enough to mute the music, and it may help to get readers into the mood and grab their full attention.
Upon choosing one of the five stories you are taken to the first page of the story, accompanied by Denis Lekhno’s illustrative treatment of some of the characters and events. The artwork is very stylised, with a mature look that ought to suit most adults, but simple enough to appeal to children too.
‘Sherlock Holmes for iPad’ evokes a similar feeling to those interactive books designed for young children where pulling a tab will lift a flap or make a character move on the page. By dragging your finger on the illustrations you are given a number of different treatments, such as a magnifying glass that enlarges the text, or an object that will bounce around the page. There are a few very simple animations within the artwork, but interacting with them feels more like a novelty than anything else. This is compounded by the fact that many of the illustrations are repeated throughout the process of the story.
The contents of the book remain relatively faithful, without being simplified or spoiled by the abridgement, and the interactive parts don’t interfere with the text in a significant way. If you’re caught up in the flow of the story you may choose to ignore the interactive parts of the app entirely.
Although the package is relatively entertaining, one may feel oneself itching midway to switch to the plainer format of reading the text in iBooks or similar, making the app difficult to recommend as anything but a ‘gateway’ solution for those otherwise unwilling to read fiction.
Hayden Scott-Baron is a professional illustrator and video-game designer. His work can be found at Starfruit Games.