The Alice in Wonderland app for the iPad, from iPhone developer Atomic Antelope, brings a whole new range of interactivity to the classic children’s book. Readers can turn and move the iPad to help Alice grow taller or shorter and throw tarts at the Red Queen.

I don’t have an iPad, but watching this amazing video (embedded below) demonstrating the Alice in Wonderland app made me want to run out and get one — and if I had a young child, it would make me want to get one even faster. I know that many people believe reading should be a quiet and relaxing activity, and that there’s nothing quite like communing with the pages of a well-read classic, but this video makes reading “Alice in Wonderland” look like…well, it looks like a lot of fun. And I have a feeling if Charles Lutwidge Dodson (i.e., Lewis Carroll) could see his story represented like this, he would probably think it was kind of fun as well.

The app comes from Atomic Antelope, which makes iPhone apps, including one called Bauble that lets you turn your iPhone into the world’s most expensive Christmas card. The Alice app brings an interactive element to the pages of this children’s classic, with features that are based on the original illustrations and allow readers to stretch Alice’s body when she comes to the table with the “Drink Me” bottle, to throw tarts at the Queen of Hearts and watch them bounce off her, and to rock the baby that turns into a pig. The app costs $8.99, although there’s also a free “lite” version. Chris Stevens, one half of Atomic Antelope, wrote about creating the app here.

So is this the future of e-books — every book its own app? It’s certainly a great example of the kind of full-color and interactivity and motion (using the accelerometer) that isn’t possible on other e-readers. These kinds of apps could certainly help the tablet app market hit the $8 billion-mark that GigaOM Pro analyst Mike Wolf forecast it would in a recent report on the sector (sub req’d). It’s also a sign of the creativity that traditional publishers seem to lack, as they try to maintain their traditional stranglehold on book prices in the online world, as Paul Sweeting detailed in this recent GigaOM Pro analysis. Now I’m trying to imagine what a Dr. Seuss book would look like as an iPad app.

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  1. In it’s way it’s no different then the popout books or the kids books with the fuzz/hair/lint in them to simulate what a animal feels like. Just flash to keep kids engaged, nothing wrong with that, nothing at all.

    1. That’s what it reminded me of too — or the books we had for our oldest daughter about 15 years ago, that had an audio chip built in, and you could hit a button and get a sound effect at different points in the book. Most people hated those too, but the kids loved them :-)

      1. Yeah, and the dang batteries seemed to last like forever!

  2. Didn’t like Alice as a kid, don’t like her now that I’m an adult, the movie and the I-Pad nonwithstanding.

  3. Actually, that is a problem. Kids need to learn to read and use their own imagination… keep them engaged? As we worry about the engagement of kids their attention spans get shorter and shorter. I am fine with the inevitable change in form factor away from paper books, but I hope the fact that it is just text stays the same for the sake of kids. How is a kid going to stay focused in class at school reading “old fashioned books” when they have this hyperactive crap at home? I for one really hope for society’s sake this is not the trend for our children.

    1. I agree that kids need to learn to use their imaginations, David — but I think these kinds of things are one of the ways that happens. I don’t think every book lends itself to this treatment, but this one works.

    2. I think this is probably the most entertaining book app I have seen. This actually promotes reading IMHO. Why? because reading is about having fun and going off on an adventure and to return with a greater understanding of things. This app is like a gateway to many more readings that are amazing. What better book to do this with than Alice. Some dad is reading it to her daughter than isn’t quite at that level but the interactivity stretches her mind to want to be able to read it.

    3. Partners in Grime David Wednesday, April 14, 2010

      This app will make kids want to read books!

  4. Tweets in Japan 2010-04-14 « iPad Fun! Wednesday, April 14, 2010

    [...] 18:38:26] cream_tea いっきに ipad 欲しくなった…!ありすかわいい!!! http://gigaom.com/2010/04/13/alice-on-the-ipad-is-this-the-future-of-books/ [2010-04-14 18:38:25] webdemo [...]

  5. Isn’t this called a game?…

    So now we’ll have books remade as games, as well as movies.

    1. What’s the world coming to? Who would ever have thought of making a book into a movie, right?

  6. To be honest, i was not impressed with the Lite version I downloaded. using the accelerometer to tilt and move objects is unimpressive.

    Touch, swipe, pinch, and accelerometer functionality used together would make a great app. Can someone please do that!?

  7. William Jackson Wednesday, April 14, 2010

    I guess I’m getting old, but it’s the imagination that we need to spark in children. We may be creating a problem when a child stops “reading” books and only “watches” them. Popup books are great for encouraging the child to learn to read. When you couple higher level writing styles with flashy content you end up with a novelty.

    1. I agree with you. For me, this is different from the popout books in that the popout reveals a static image, and as such is a support for the story rather than a distraction. I can’t imagine a kid remaining seated listening to the story when he can just grab the damn thing and shuffle it for a quick “reward”.
      But who knows – maybe the popout books elicited the same kind of reaction when they were first introduced?

    2. Welcome to 21st-century reading.

  8. urbananchorite Wednesday, April 14, 2010

    No big deal yo me re pleasure books but the idea of making dull textbooks more fun has promise. I’d love history book illustrations and maps to be animated, math books to show steps or connections, illustrate terms in motion, etc. People cleverer than me will figure it out and then we can end the era of 50 lb backbacks.

  9. need to convert all those LIVING BOOKS from Broderbund to Apps for the kids!

    1. I agree I wish all the living books reader rabbit series and putt putt and Freddie fish series could all be converted for the iPad nothing beats the old classics we grew up on ! I wonder how we could request for these old but never outdated video games

  10. Michael W. Perry Wednesday, April 14, 2010

    New technologies typically raise the question, “Just because we can do something, does that mean we should do it?”

    For young kids, this interactivity makes reading fun, but I can’t really see teens demanding War and Peace in this sort of format. For older kids and adults, books need more practical things, such as a pop-up reference to the confusing array of many-named characters in War and Peace. And students need cross-references.

    And last but not least, who wants their iPhone screen cluttered with an app for every book? That’s where iBooks and similar applications come in handy.

    1. I agree on the fact that it shouldn’t be it’s own app. That is a major fail in Apple’s part. I also think iBooks is not the sweet spot, and does not live up to its expectations. There should be a lot more features iBooks should have that would push the experience way beyond anything a kindle or other could do. A question to your first question is “Why not?” Is it necessary? No, but why not push boundaries and make something exciting and not the dullness of just text. I feel like people need to be more creative, and this is a great way to be creative (that Apple approved).

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