Enhanced eBook cover of "Nightingale" by David Farland.

Enhanced eBook cover of “Nightingale” by David Farland.

Nightingale by David Farland was released in paper and eBook formats, but it is the enhanced eBook that I’ll be covering here in Part Two. Part One covers the novel.

Farland’s East India Press was very aggressive in its first release. This version of the eBook, only available for iBooks on the iPad, is loaded with art, animated illustrations, and music. Almost every chapter has a behind-the-scenes video with Farland. There is also a companion soundtrack by James Guymon to be enjoyed separately. This enhanced eBook takes advantage of iBooks Author’s features.

In the portrait (tall) orientation the story must be scrolled vertically with the art fullscreen at the top and the music & video links on the side. In landscape (wide) mode each chapter header has a special layout for art, music & video. Scroll to the left and the story is formatted into two columns.

Having an animated clip with background music at the beginning of each chapter is very dramatic, and sets the mood nicely for the chapter. The music was excellent, and the animated bits were slick. There was a taste of something new and cutting edge about the entire production.

That being said, there were a few elements that diminished my enjoyment. The art direction was varied and sometimes baffling. Some of the art was cartoonish, some realistic. I found the mix interruptive to establishing a mood, especially since the main characters were drawn differently for each chapter. The more realistic, graphic novel style illustrations were my favorite, however, and even if the art styles varied, all the illustrations were professionally rendered.

The music was a bit disappointing, but not because its quality was poor. The soundtrack was professional and well suited for each chapter, but as the story moved along, there was simply less and less music to be heard. I eventually stopped tapping on the music icon. I assume the samples were meant to entice the reader to buy the soundtrack, but it had an overall stingy effect for me. I made an assumption when I purchased the enhanced version that it was complete, not that I had to buy a supplement. I was hoping for dedicated music for each chapter as featured in the first chapter, but even that was limited. In horizontal orientation, you could only listen to the music with the animated illustration. In the landscape orientation, the music stopped playing if the icon scrolled off the off the screen.

The videos, on the other hand, were well worth the enhanced version, which makes it tragic that I eventually became so involved with the story that I ignored them. Listening to Farland discuss the writing process or the genesis of some of his ideas was a very nice bonus. The videos come at a cost. Because of them the digital file is 1Gb.

In the end, the enhanced eBook is an aggressive project that is deserving of attention. A glance at the credits page shows just how many people were involved. Most surprising is that this version only cost a mere $2 over the standard eBook. If you have an iPad, you can hardly go wrong buying the enhanced eBook. A very comprehensive sample can be downloaded from the iBookstore for free so you can check it out, but I suspect you’ll be as impressed as I was and quickly purchase it.

Release Date: March 14, 2012 (USA)
ISBNs: None
Publisher: East India Press

MySF Rating: Three point zero stars
Family Friendliness: 10% (definitely for older teens and up)

Content:

Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (drug dealer mentioned, forcible doping to knock out some characters)
Language: 1 (occasional minor expletives)
Nudity: 1 (implied)
Sexuality: 2 (various mentions of sexual feelings, frank descriptions of adult situations, no direct depictions)
Violence: 3 (knife and gun fights, gangs, death by alligator and quicksand, car accident, not really graphic)