While most tablet-based reading apps are designed to replicate traditional paper-based books on a screen, Papercut, new from Sweden and UK-based UsTwo, aims to enhance the experience with audio, video, images and animations that complement the text and help tell stories in new ways.
Jonas Lennermo, Head of Publishing at UsTwo, says that Papercut is best thought of as a publishing platform, storefront and new genre in experimental storytelling. “We started with a simple question, ‘What happens with a book when you remove the pages?’ It becomes something different,” he explains.
With Papercut, which launches on the iPad today, audio and visual elements are triggered as you scroll through the text of a story in order to provide an experience beyond a normal book. The genesis of the idea stems from Nursery Rhymes, an children’s story app previously created by UsTwo for iPhone and iPad. “It was a beautiful book, but it was nothing new. We wanted to explore something new. We wanted to have text at the center of what we did and we took it from there.”
The app launches with three stories. Additional titles will be added in the future as in-app purchases. UsTwo is beginning by focusing Papercut on short stories, but Lennermo says that the company is open to exploring serialized novels and other directions in the future. For now though, it’s all about experimentation and “seeing what happens.”
For the launch titles, UsTwo has collaborated with three British authors to develop new ways of telling stories, bringing in audio designers and other creative professionals to offer something very different to what you’ll get from a traditional ebook. While initially for the iPad only, other formats will be considered in the future.
While, Papercut’s approach is unlikely to replace the traditional ebook any time soon, for those looking for something that takes greater advantage of the capabilities of the iPad while holding true to a core reading-based experience, it’s well worth investigating.