At Immer, we’re working on a new way of reading great books on the phone, a way to spend your screen time more meaningfully. We’re not quite there yet, but we did just release our first English-language pilot app, Lotus, in the iOS App Store, showcasing parts of what we’re creating.
Lotus is based on years of reading research, designing, prototyping and testing. In this article, I want to share some of our ideas and process, focusing on three of the threads we worked on: visuals, audio and UI.
It all started out quite innocently. And naïvely. When my novel De verdwijners (‘The Disappearers’) was published in 2013, I got frustrated trying to read its e-book edition on my iPhone. It was a cheap knock-off of the beautiful paper version, with some clumsy errors to boot.
As a longtime video games critic and writer, I thought: anything can happen on my screen (and on my earphones), so why is this experience so limited? I also thought, and this was the naïve part: I can easily do a better job!
So I talked to people, did (desk) research, raised some subsidies (from the Creative Industries Fund NL and Dutch Foundation for Literature, thanks folks!), brought a team together (thanks folks!), did even more (design) research, and started building and testing stuff.
Not everything was useful. There were diversions. It took way longer and was a lot harder than expected. But about halfway through, something interesting happened: the initial goal of using technology to make something nice, a digital-only book presented in a new way, shifted to something bigger.
Subtle visual elements
With Lotus, we set out to reimagine the e-book while sticking to text. Despite our largely visual culture, the power of the written word is still incredible. Isn’t it amazing that observing strings of a few dozen symbols can summon…