Venice Under Glass, a suspenseful detective story, created as a multi-touch eBook
Each Monday TNM looks at a new book release. This week’s selection was built using iBooks Author by Northern California author Stephan J. Harper
It is fun to look at new interactive eBooks created using the free publishing program from Apple, iBooks Author. The reason is that the while the format and look becomes very familiar once you have used the program yourself, the variations possible allow the publisher/designer to see what choices were made, and possibilities the publishing platform may have.
Stephan J. Harper has just published his second eBook using iBooks Author, Venice Under Glass, a fantasy detective book. His first eBook, In His Image, feels more like an experiment at only 31 pages in length, and was targeted at an adult audience.
Venice Under Glass, on the other hand, is 168 pages in length and will weigh in at 136 MB when installed on an iPad.
The new book has a tie-in to the website the author created in 1998, www.basilbaker.com, “a literate site for bear lovers.”
“Hello! My name is Basil Baker,” reads the book description. “I am a sleuth—a seeker of truth—and I was called to Venice by my Uncle Clive to discover who has been stealing priceless antique Venetian glass from palazzi and museo throughout the City. The local police are baffled; and the local press have declared the crime spree Il Maladora di Venezia. All of Venice is outraged—and it’s all happening at the height of Carnevale di Venezia. My Venetian assignment proved to be a head-scratching, fur-bristler for everyone involved.”
The book contains illustrations and plenty of animations. A few of the animations can be tapped to enlarge, though one wishes all the pictures could be easily enlarged for better viewing.
The eBook was designed in landscape, with a fixed layout. There are only two chapter breaks in the book: the introduction (cover) and the entire work, created in one continuous stream. It is an odd choice, possibly taken because of the way iBooks Author allows for navigation. In a fixed layout eBook created using iBooks Author, the fonts and layouts are set. Because of this, the font choice is critical. Here, I found the font fine on the standard size iPad, but it feels too small on an iPad mini, which is why testing on both sizes of tablets is important. (Obviously, when using portrait, where the fonts are adjustable, this is not as critical.)
“We live in a visual-entertainment society; but opinion never varies when it comes to the fulfillment readers experience from a great book of fiction,” said the author in his own press release for the book. “I believe MultiTouch books will become a preferred reading experience for millions of iPad owners as talented writers, illustrators, animators and musicians around the world create new fictional works with iBooks Author. This is an entirely new genre of literature that will expand readership among the general public.”
The author probably would have been wise to choose different screenshots for the book inside the iBooks Store. The screenshots chosen are attractive pictures, but this is not a picture book, but a text heavy book, best for either more advanced young readers, or for adults.
The author also gives away his Northern California origins with the drinking habits of his characters:
“Shall I open the dessert wine?” interjected Uncle Clive.
“Yes, please! Such a delightful change of topic,” said Cordelia, turning to me with her eyes rolled halfway to the ceiling.
A few moments later Evers appeared and showed Uncle Clive the bottle. Then, as a courtesy, since I was sitting in the next chair, Evers showed me the label, too. I was stunned. Uncle Clivegave a slight tilt of his head and Evers walked to the other side of the table and presented the wine to Glass.
“Does this meet with your approval, H.R.?” beamed Uncle Clive, for he had managed to match – some would say upstage – Glass’ gift of the Latour, though I doubt this was Uncle’s intention. It was his palazzo – and his birthday – and his right to open any bottle in his cantina di vino.
“1937 Château d’Yquem!” Glass’ tribute to Uncle Clive’s hospitality was surprising – and genuine.