iPad book apps designed to thrill serious book lovers

iPad book apps add authors' notes and historical material to classics like "Atlas Shrugged," "On the Road,"and the complete works of Shakespeare.

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    An iPad app for Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged" gives readers access to Rand's original manuscript and notes for the book.
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For those who shiver at the idea of e-books compared to paper-and-ink, iPad book apps may win a few over to the electronic cause.

One of Ayn Rand’s most famous works – Atlas Shrugged – is one of the newest books to get the iPad app treatment, with the iPad version released Sept. 13. And the part that may appeal to those who clutch their well-worn paperbacks when faced with a Kindle: the “Atlas Shrugged” app comes, like other iPad book apps, with a multitude of interactive features like rare photos of Rand at work, video and audio excerpts of Rand speaking about her book, and notes from Rand’s journal about passages in “Atlas Shrugged.”

iPad apps have continued the trend of offering exclusive book material that began when authors started setting up websites during the Internet boom. Before the 1990s, the closest readers could come to experiencing personal contact with a favorite author was to write a letter or attend a reading at a bookstore. But with the beginning of the Internet, they could go online and read an author’s thoughts on his or her books as well as get information on what the author was releasing next.

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Now with the iPad apps, extra materials are included with the book itself.

The “On the Road” app for the Jack Kerouac novel that defined a generation includes an interactive map that allows you to follow Kerouac’s travels; audio clips of the author reading excerpts of his manuscript; film footage of Beats giving their thoughts on Kerouac; and tributes to the author from figures like Bob Dylan and John Updike. The Shakespeare Pro iPad app combines the complete works of Shakespeare with information on the English playwright’s life; a glossary of terms; a gallery of famous Shakespeare portraits; and an interactive feature where scenes within each play are broken down, describing what characters are present and where they take place.

You can also shake your iPad and have a random Shakespeare quote appear or present the Passport portion of the app at places like Shakespeare’s birthplace and the Prague Shakespeare Festival for free or discounted entrance.

The iTunes website includes a description of the features included in an iPad book app – some simply come with the book’s text, without any extra bells and whistles – as well as a description and historical background of the work. “Upon publication of the story Chopin's writing was highly praised, but the public was outraged by the content and only one edition was printed,” reads the description for the iPad app of the Kate Chopin story “The Awakening.” “The Awakening was rediscovered in the 1960s, when Chopin was praised for raising feminist questions.”

Prices for the iPad book apps vary – the King James Bible and “Our Mutual Friend” by Charles Dickens go for $0.99, while some books like “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen are free for a limited time.

Molly Driscoll is a Monitor correspondent.

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