They revolutionised the way we read, they’re digital versions of print books and we can carry a whole library with us everywhere we go.
But they can also be more than that. Technology can be used to rouse your imagination and build suspense in ways we’ve never really thought of before. With the right imagination and the right stories, eBooks can be crafted to almost, almost, feel like magic.
Pottermore and Apple have collaborated on a series of eBooks that do exactly that. The Harry Potter Enhanced Editions are bursting with playful animations, intricate artwork, interactive features and J.K. Rowling’s annotations from pottermore.com. They are utterly charming.
Every detail was meticulously planned to fit Harry’s world without pulling focus from the text itself, from the custom-designed, lightning-inspired capital letters (in a font called ‘Fluffy’) at the beginning of each chapter, to the detailed depiction of Malfoy Manor. Each element is created with magic in mind, not just convenience – although I can still fit all seven volumes into my handbag.
So what are they like, you ask? I’ve had a play with them (lucky me!) and I can quickly whisper a few details in your general direction...
There’s an animated Golden Snitch that flits across a page in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (please tell me if you can catch it with your fingers; I tried and I tried but I couldn’t). There’s a Mountain Troll absent-mindedly clubbing the paragraph below, there are fires that flicker, portraits that move and smoke that billows beautifully. Each detail is a subtle, deliberate decision to complement the imagination of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. Some of them I’d seen on pottermore.com, others are sparkling new.
A production executive from Pottermore was able to tell me a wee bit about the creative process: ‘Every decision is about the text. We’re always mindful of the narrative tension – sometimes it’s appropriate to allow the reader to take a look around the wizarding world and put an explanatory picture of a Hinkypunk in their peripheral vision.
‘Sometimes, in moments of tense action and grave peril, that would be completely wrong. The team took time together, out of the office, in a secret space in London to develop ideas. For the covers, for instance, we started with over 100 different treatments and over the next few months, whittled that down to 11, then three and finally down to one look that we all love.’
Repeat that process over and over for all 223 ‘enhancements’ in this book. Beautiful little animations, pictures you can zoom in on and spin, panoramic scenery that you can pinch and elaborate, and sometimes interactive artwork. Some of them are grand and obvious and others are hidden. This is more than an eBook; it’s a treasure hunt for delights between the lines. I loved them.
The Harry Potter Enhanced Editions are available exclusively from the iBooks store here.