The latest in the new, electronic world of book publishing: The Amplified Edition.
Penguin Group USA and U.S. cable network Starz Entertainment have collaborated on a multimedia version of Ken Follett's blockbuster novel The Pillars of the Earth, featuring video and audio clips.
The e-release, available in the U.S. on Tuesday for Apple's iPad and later this week for the iPhone and iPod, is timed to the release of the eight-part, eight-hour miniseries based on Follett's 12th-century epic about the building of an English cathedral, originally published in 1989.
The first episode of the Canadian-German co-production airs Friday, with seven more instalments following throughout the summer on Starz in the U.S. and on The Movie Network and Movie Central in Canada.
The Penguin-Starz project combines the full text of the book with extensive excerpts from the TV production, added weekly as the miniseries progresses. Also included are interviews with the author, sketches of the set, selections from the soundtrack and a family tree that offers background on the various characters and videos of the actors discussing their roles.
The series features a large international cast that includes Canadian actors Donald Sutherland, Alison Pill and Gordon Pinsent as well as Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell and Matthew Macfadyen.
"The Amplified Edition offers a truly integrated multimedia experience of Ken Follett's imagined story," said Molly Barton, Penguin's director of business development.
"The Amplified Edition brings you the imagery, architecture, music and clothing from the time period while also offering readers the chance to explore the process Ken Follett went through with [miniseries producer] Ridley Scott to bring his story to life on screen."
Penguin and numerous other publishers have created multimedia projects in recent years as they seek to find new and bigger audiences online. An Emeryville, Calif.-based company, Vook, has created video books, combining text and film clips, out of everything from fitness guides to a collection of stories by Franz Kafka.
Penguin is planning other Amplified works, fiction and nonfiction, but Barton declined to cite anything specific.