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Starz, Penguin Collaborate on "Amplified" E-Book for iPad

cable network Starz is bringing video to Apple's iPad in an unexpected way, by
teaming with book publisher Penguin Group to create a special electronic
version of Ken Follett's novel The Pillars of the Earth which pulls
content from the upcoming Starz miniseries based on the book.

The eight-hour Pillars of the Earth TV series, produced by Tandem
Communications and featuring top actors including Donald Sutherland, Ian
McShane and Rufus Sewell, premieres this Friday, July 23. Penguin's Amplified
Edition for the iPad, which is available today, July 20 for $12.99, includes 34
short videos, artwork and original music from the series. A broader Pillars of the Earth app for the iPad features more even more
video, including over an hour of behind-the-scenes footage. 

Amplified Edition offers an array of interactive features designed to enhance
the experience of reading the epic novel, which is set in 12th century England.
Most noteworthy is a character tree, depicted in a virtual stained glass
window, which grows as characters are introduced in the book and makes it
easier to understand the relationships. 

The concept
behind the Amplified Edition is to allow Starz viewers to read the Follett
novel in tandem with watching the series, says Marc DeBevoise, SVP of digital
media, business development and strategy for Starz. As such, the e-book is
continually updated with new video and other features as the corresponding
segments in the eight-part series air on Starz, but not before. 

really cool thing is we're not spoiling anything," says DeBevoise.
"You don't have the full app until the end of the series." 

to DeBevoise, Starz approached Penguin about three months ago with the idea of
doing something special for the iPad based on The Pillars of the
, and a small team comprised of executives from both companies
collaborated to produce the final Amplified Edition, with the help of outside
design firms. A version for the iPhone and iPod Touch will be available later
this week. 

won't disclose the financial terms of the collaboration, saying only that Starz
and Penguin have a partnership and that Starz's main goal was to promote the
series, particularly to consumers who have yet to read the book. He said that
Starz's financial investment in developing the special e-book was not overly
significant, and that such collaborations are a "repeatable model" if
the Pillars of the Earth e-book proves successful. 

isn't millions of dollars of development," he says. "The toughest
part is figuring out what you want to do. You can't pick your 10 favorite clips
and say, 'Hey, we're done.' You have to figure it all out together." 

Besides the
character tree and contextual video and still images, other interactive
features of the Amplified Edition include: 

  • Ken Follett's Multimedia Diary,
    giving the author's on-set impressions of the process of bringing The Pillars of the Earth from page to screen.
  • Behind-the-scenes insights into
    the making of the event series, looking at how the filmmakers captured
    Follett's vision and created the medieval world of The Pillars of
    the Earth
    , including interviews with the actors, director and
  • A "Listening Lounge"
    with music - including hymns, soundtrack themes, and battlefield scene
    scores - from the Starz Originals series.

Amplified Edition is the next step in Penguin Group's ongoing efforts to take
advantage of new technology to bring writers to readers in ways they have never
experienced before," said Molly Barton, Director of Business Development
for Penguin Group USA in a statement. "We are delighted to bring fans this
thoughtful and exciting blend of imagery and artistry inspired by master
storyteller Ken Follett."