When the original iPad was announced back in 2010, Steve Jobs & Co. used the words ‘extraordinary’, ‘revolutionary’ and ‘magical’ to describe the product they had made for us. Indeed, the iPad has lived up to that description in every way. Perhaps the most obvious revolution that was seen as more than likely was in the ebook industry. The iPad’s size, access to the internet and advanced computing power made innovation in this space certain. Yet few ebooks have lived up to that calling.
Enter: Black Jack: A Moving Novel.
I heard about this a few days ago, on the /r/books subreddit. I tried out the first chapter and was blown away. I say again: Black Jack is the ebook experience your iPad was made for. Here’s why.
Black Jack is a 600+ page fantasy adventure novel written by Emmy award-winning writer A.R. Witham. Here’s the synopsis from the project’s official site:
“Jack Swift killed his father.
It was an accident, but Jack was responsible. Now he lives a life shuffled between filthy foster homes, moved from family to family like a half-forgotten shadow. Blessed with a photographic memory, cursed by the murder he cannot forget, Jack Swift is trapped in a nightmare of his own making.
Until one night…a mysterious figure kidnaps him to a world he does not know, demanding skills he does not have. Now Jack Swift is on the run from monsters, hounded for his blood, swindled, stabbed and Shanghaied, searching for the way to reach the one place he never thought he’d want to be…
On it’s own, Black Jack sounds like a pretty decent adventure novel, and it is. It’s something I would have no trouble picking off the shelf and taking home with me. But it’s not just an ordinary book. When you download the app (free for the first chapter), you are shown a mysterious-looking cover, amber reflections of firelight glimmering on its 3D rendered surface. When you swipe to open it, the ink seems to magically appear on worn pages accompanied by eerie sound effects. As you progress through the book, you’ll hear atmospheric sounds like wind through leaves on a tree for an outside scene. At certain points, drawings are scrawled onto the page as you read like clues being scribbled into a notebook. Animated illustrations also occasionally appear.
“Black Jack: A Moving Novel is the fulfillment of a lifelong endeavor. I have always imagined a “magic book” that was wrapped in thick leather and metal, and when you opened the pages, it breathed and came alive.
– A.R. Witham
As you can well imagine, this format presents huge potential for the way books are consumed in the future. Imagine a Harry Potter novel with animations and sound effects as you read!
I can honestly say this is the most fun reading experience I’ve had on the iPad, and I’ve only read through the first chapter. The app is free to download and comes with the first chapter; additional chapters can be purchased separately as released or you can purchase the entire book upfront (with chapters available upon release) for $15 via in-app purchase.