November 25, 2014 Last Updated 7:56 am

The British Film Institute’s platform-expanding new iPad and Android app for Sci-Fi films

‘BFI Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder: The Sci-Fi 60’ could be considered, from a book publisher’s perspective, both an app and an interactive eBook

For the past few months, while the Amazon and Hachette wars have been waging, I have stewed while book publishing types continued to define their publishing platform merely as a way to distribute words on paper or via device. To far too many in the industry, a book is a collection of words, everything else is just gravy.

BFI-iPadFor those of us interested in eBooks, however, the platforms seems to offer way more than that. Some of the best eBooks being produced look like traditional books (but enhanced), while others stretch the definition even further. BFI Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder: The Sci-Fi 60 is one of those projects.

The app was released in support of the The British Film Institute’s Sci-fi: Days of Fear and Wonder which involves more than 1,000 screenings of classic films and TV series at more than 200 locations in the UK.

Opening the new app, built by the social and digital agency Havas Work Club, one could imagine calling the creation an eBook rather than an app – after all, there are plenty of books about films from the BFI available through But the app was created by a developer/publisher who thought about this project not as a translation of something in print, but as a digitally-native project. The result is perfect for reading on a tablet, and offers readers (users, if you prefer) a completely different sort of experience.

Explore 60 of the greatest sci-fi films ever made, with stunning images, clips, trivia and passionate analysis – app description

Yes, the free app contains the things you might expect from an interactive film book (video, for instance) but it is completely different in navigation and overall construction. It is also being made available in app stores rather than digital bookstores.

It is ironic that I downloaded the new app on the same day that Adobe announced that it would end offering the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite: Single Edition solution to Creative Cloud members as a free benefit (see TNM post here). Now, only those buying the Pro and Enterprise version of Adobe DPS will continue to be able to access use the Single Edition solution at all (as the purchase option is also being pulled from the Adobe online store).

I think it is a terrible decision – not because I prefer Single Edition to Adobe’s new InDesign fixed ePub solution (though I have not been very impressed with it so far), but because I think Adobe is being very unimaginative. Again, like those east coast publishers, they are seeing eBooks as one thing, not a publishing platform that can be much more when combined with app making.

The decision to end the Single Edition solution for CC members does not spell the end of eBook apps, of course, as one can be developed through other means (and users of both Pro and Enterprise versions of the Adobe DPS will continue to be able to use the Single Edition solution). But it is a blow for small and independent publishers.

Having said all that, I will be looking at this new app from the BFI (and Work Club) for ideas as I continue to think about what an eBook can be outside of strictly text.

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