I picked up the Sunday Times today because I wanted to read their ‘App List’ supplement. Last week, they profiled 250 business, productivity and work apps for iOS, Android and Windows devices and this time around it was leisure and culture’s turn and I was intrigued to see what they chose as their eight top book apps.

Because of Rupert’s paywall obsession you won’t be able to access the list online without a subscription. And so here, for your eyes only, are the Sunday Times’ Eight…

1) The Waste Land (Touch Press/Faber)
Platform: iPad
Price: £9.99
I’ve reviewed this one before and so was delighted to see it make the list. Touch Press are THE literary app developers at the moment and am keen to see what they come out with next.

2) British Library: Treasures (British Library)
Platforms: iPhone, Android, iPad
Price £1.49
One of a few BL apps designed to accompany their exhibitions. A great and wonderfully produced idea but I’ve got one major problem with this particular choice. It’s not a book. Not even slightly.

3) iF Poems for the IPhone (Clickworks)
Platform: iPhone, iPad
Price: £1.69
According to the Sunday Times, this app outsold Angry Birds on its launch. It’s easy to see why as this is an enthusiastic, lively and interactive packaging of a tough literary nut – poetry. I think the title should reflect its availability on other platforms though.

4) Poetry Foundation (The Poetry Foundation)
Platform: iPhone, Android
Price: Free
Another poetry app! An American offering with an enormous database of verse. Again, should this qualify as a book? It’s free though and available on a non-iOS platform so I’m not going to argue.

5) Iquran Pro (Guided Ways Technologies Ltd)
Platform: iPhone, Android
Price: £4.99
A shining example of how something as cherished and historic as the Quaran can be transformed into a digital, mobile document. A bit steep for £4.99 though as there are cheaper alternatives on the market.

6) Our Daily Bread (RBC Ministries)
Platform: iPhone, Android
Price: £0.69
The Bible equivalent of Iquran pro although it seems to be restricted by only being able to view passages if connected to Wi-Fi.

7) Dickens: Dark London (Brothers and Sisters Creative)
Platform: iPhone, iPad
Price: Free
There are a slew of Dickens apps on the market and it is no surprise the ST have picked this one. It’s an atmospheric offering which invites the reader on a trip around Dickens’ London via the medium of an interactive graphic novel. I found it less intuitive to use than it could have been and the audio on my downloaded version failed to work. And while the app states that episodes can be downloaded for free, the ST says that they cost £1.49 each.

8) IDW Comics (IDW Publishing)
Platform: iPhone
Price: Free
I’ve yet to properly delve into the world of digital comics although if this app is anything to go by, I’ll be doing so soon. Having downloaded this app in order to give it a quick road test it’s easy to see that of all the publishers creating apps, the graphic novelists are light years ahead.

This particular app shows how reading a comic on an iPad is a transformative experience. Multi-touch gestures, comic panels which lead the reader on a non-linear journey and the all round choice cements this a stunning example of a ‘book app’.

And it works commercially as well with the reader being able to download free comics before paying £1.49 – £2.49 for the latest digital editions. And wonderfully, there’s an option to buy print versions of the comics. See, print isn’t dead!

My one complaint is that ST profile states that the app is only available on the iPhone. This is false. And I can’t imagine IDW Publishing being too happy with this as you can also get the app for the iPad, the only device which gives justice to the visual richness of the comics.

And so, in conclusion, while there were a few pleasant surprises in the list (IDW Comics and The Waste Land) I wasn’t too impressed by the ST’s choices. No On the Road or Cyclepedia for example. Shocking. That’s why next week I’ll be putting together my own top ten list of book apps. I’m sure the Sunday Times will be shaking in their boots!

Come back next week when hopefully I’ll have put together something a little bit more unusual…

About these ads