iClassics Productions is a start-up digital publisher based in Barcelona, which, over the past two years, has built up a collection of “Immersive reading” apps. Although based in Spain, their biggest market is North America, given that they are frequently featured on the iTunes AppStore and that their literature is from the Anglosphere’s literary canon.
They currently have nine volumes (apps) in total, predominantly taking works from the macabre, gothic and horror genres, with authors Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft and Charles Dickens being particularly prominent.
What is an “immersive reading app”?
iClassics Productions is proud to boast that it does not alter the original text of the classic stories they feature in their apps, but simply enrich the reading experience with wholly original illustrations, graphics, animations, interactive elements and an original soundtrack and sound effects. A typical application from iClassics Productions contains between 3-4 short stories of the author. For example, iPoe Vol.1 (Edgar Allan Poe) contains The Oval Portrait, The Tell-Tale Heart, Annabel Lee and The Mask of the Red Death. All apps released by iClassics Productions contain the original text in four languages: English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. All apps are also available on the iTunes AppStore, Google Play and Amazon.
They have now created their most ambitious, cinematic and animated app to date: The Interactive Legend of Sleepy Hollow, whose release (October 13, 2016) was perfectly timed for the Halloween season.
New release on 13th October 2016
This app contains only one, larger story: Washington Irving’s classic and quintessentially American Halloween tale: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
In iClassics Productions’ older apps, there was an over-dependence on moveable objects and elements. However, this app feels like more like a stable bridge between the cinematic and the literary, with far greater quality animations than in previous editions, and a highly effective and ambient soundtrack. However, there could still be a reduction of the sometimes needlessly moveable objects (shovels, maps, compasses, etc.)
A major strength of this app is the sheer quality of the illustrations, which is highly artistic. There is also a seamless synthesis with such illustrations with the animated elements. In comparison to previous apps by iClassics Productions, the text also seems to be more integrated with, and immersed in, the story, with effective and layered transitions.
However, although the text is more integrated with the story than in older apps, there is still room for greater integration. For example, rather than just layering the text with the objects and sets of a particular scene, it could be interesting to have the text appear from an element within the scene (an envelope, for example).
There was a lot of buzz around interactive storytelling apps when the iPad was released. However, many fell by the wayside due to excessive and gimmicky features. This app, like their other apps, is different. Indeed, given the high quality of the visual elements and illustrations, the whole package reads, feels and looks like a fusion of the literary and textual arts, all made possible with modern technology and mobile devices.
Another positive to the app is the handy “page memory” feature, which basically means that you can exit the app at any moment, and go back to the same page as soon as you re-open the app. You can also change the language at any time, and it will quickly and automatically change the language on the page you are currently at. This is a very handy feature for this particular app, given the relative length of the story.
All in all, The Interactive Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a high-quality, sophisticated reading experience, and it is evident that there is a lot of talent and creativity behind iClassics Productions. It is also one of few quality apps available on the market that can be considered as being tailored for the Halloween season.
iClassics Productions’ apps are usually $4.99USD. However, The Interactive Legend of Sleepy Hollow currently has a special release price of just $2.99, which is a steal when you consider the length of the story and the quality of the production.
Not being dependent on gore or shock like iPoe and iLovecraft, this app is a perfect retelling of a fun Halloween classic, suitable for the whole family as an alternative way of reading this short but classic gem of the American literary canon.