IF J.R.R. Tolkien were alive today, what would he think of the adaptions of his fantasy for the big screen and more recently for the latest technology in ‘e-book’ publishing?
What would he think of the technology giants of today? Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft.
All of these companies have made their own moves to shape the future of publishing, thus changing how the stories that feed our minds get delivered and read.
In the run up to the Christmas launch of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” at cinemas worldwide, a new type of book has been created to complement the release of the films. The books are made specifically for tablet computers such as Apple’s iPad, the Kindle Fire, Nook and Kobo tablets. Hobbit fans can now purchase five illustrated e-books that have been produced specifically for these tablets.
Tolkien made extensive use of illustrations in his stories, with drawings such as detailed maps of Middle-Earth. It begs the question, would Tolkien have used software such as Apple’s iBooks Author software to publish The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings for the first time, were he alive today?
A specialist iBooks author team at YUDU media, UK digital publishing pioneers, took on the task of re-imagining the print movie tie-in book, whilst working closely with HarperCollins’ UK digital publishing team.
“It is a daunting challenge to work with people who have been designing books for the Tolkien estate for the past 20-30 years, and then give them your opinions and ideas about how to make best use of that content for various ebook platforms,” said YUDU’s book product manager Charlie Stephenson. “However, when you look at how beautiful they look on screen, and get acknowledgement from Apple for your hard work, it makes all the late nights and risk working with this new software worthwhile. When you see how much energy and effort is put into making these fantastic films, you have a sense of duty to ensure that you do the content justice in these new formats.”
Eric Winbolt, HarperCollins Digital Creative Director, said: “Increasingly the publisher is able to add value by understanding how developments within technology and publishing platforms can be best leveraged to benefit our authors and their readers. We hope these beautiful titles perfectly illustrate these principles; great content married with compelling digital formats to deliver an experience we hope our audience will find to be both delightful and engaging.”
However, as it turns out, there is a deeper more mysterious connection to Tolkien and his works than meets the eye with these new digital versions of his work.
YUDU media’s creative team who have worked on these products are based in Clitheroe, from which Tolkien drew many inspirations for Middle-Earth. Not far from Clitheroe is Stonyhurst College and it was here that Tolkien spent time with his son during the 1940s. Local place names such as Shire Lane, and local landmarks such as Pendle Hill are thought have provided inspiration for The Shire and the Lonely Mountain.
It would be nice to think that Tolkien would have a satisfied smile in the knowledge that the inspiration for taking his stories into interactive digital books took place in the shadow of the Lonely Mountain.