Pillars of the Earth: Amplified, but with audio?


Penguin’s iPad edition has video, music, and more but does it sync with the audiobook version? In the media blitz surrounding today’s release of Ken Follett’s No. 1 bestseller The Pillars of the Earth, what Penguin Publishing calls “…a dynamic user experience that complements the story,” there’s nothing that addresses my question: Does the $12.99 app include the Penguin audiobook production featuring narrator John Lee?

The multimedia package does have plenty of bells & whistles – just play the video to see a few. And it is surely clever cross-promotion of the StarzĀ  mini-series based on the book – it even includes updated content timed to the TV series episodes. In fact there’s so much to click and fiddle with that I’m wondering if anybody will actually buckle down and read the text – or listen to the 41 hours of audio šŸ˜‰

The move to app-based books is a trend that began with kid-friendly transmedia, and with The Pillars of the Earth, we’re seeing a whole new twist of symbiotic media relationships. Will there be a goodie-filled iPad app for every book-based blockbuster that hits the big (or HDTV) screen? Is this a whole new chance for publishers to sell another copy of the book (& audiobook!) to the consumer, with some commercially moneymaking content added in the mix? I know there’d be a zillion Harry Potter fans pounding down iTunes’ virtual door for a Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows app that combined Rowling’s text & Jim Dale’s narration with movie clips and interviews – and hey, toss in some game contentĀ  from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park for even more product-placement opportunities! What do you want to bet it’s nearing completion at this moment?

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About the Author:

Mary Burkey is an independent library consultant in Columbus (OH). An enthusiastic audiophile, she has served on all four of ALA's audiobook award committees as well as the Audies. In addition to writing the "Voices in My Head" column for Booklist, she is the author of Audiobooks for Youth: A Practical Guide to Sound Literature (ALA, 2013). Follow her on Twitter at @mburkey.

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