Dispatches from the Digital Revolution

‘Tis time for Shakespeare in ebook land: Two new adaptations of the bard’s classics


Summer never truly feels like summer until I get myself a healthy dose of Shakespeare. With Shakespeare in the Park in New York and Shakespeare on the Common here in Boston, it feels like the perfect time for the release of two new ebook adaptations of Shakespeare’s classics.

Now, I must confess that I am normally hesitant when I hear about classics being revamped for enhanced ebook format, but Shakespeare? This time, I can’t imagine anything more fitting.


iBardRomeo is actually more of an interactive study guide (move over, CliffsNotes) from iBardBooks, a new digital publisher that is trying to make studying Shakespeare more accessible for students. As stated on their Facebook page, “iBardRomeo is the first in a series of interactive study guides for Shakespeare. We’ve designed it for the 95 percent of students who really don’t want to study Shakespeare but have to. Our hope is that they will learn to love the Bard.”

The enhanced Romeo and Juliet, in addition to text and commentary, includes interactive quizzes, video features, links to other Shakespeare resources, a feature they call “Tutor in a Box,” and quick reference guides to characters, themes, and acts. It seems like they’ve worked really hard to present the material in a relatable, modern way. And this makes so much sense. Shakespeare can be pretty tough required reading—particularly for those non-English majors who are perhaps less interested in studying this stuff. The app also includes a modern adaptation of the balcony scene, “links to videos that show how famous—and not so famous—musicians, filmmakers and dancers have been inspired by Romeo and Juliet,” and the ability to keep your own study notes.

If you watch their promotional video below, you’ll instantly get a hip, youthful vibe. I think this is a fantastic example of an effective enhanced ebook, and I can see this app having serious potential with students. The app costs $9.99 at the iTunes store.

The Sonnets

Now, for those who actually enjoy reading Shakespeare—and not because it’s required reading—you may want to check out The Sonnets by Touch Press. From the developer that created The Elements, Barefoot World Atlas, Leonardo da Vinci, and of course, The Waste Land, The Sonnets features commentary, full-screen performances, and a facsimile of the original publication. All 154 poems are performed by the likes of Stephen Fry, Sir Patrick Stewart, David Tennant, and so many more. Not only that, but the performances have also been released as a separate DVD.

Check out an example of one of these gorgeous performances from Stephen Fry below:

Chilling, no?

Forgive me for my enthusiasm, but I am pretty sure that I need this app ($13.99 at the iTunes store).

…But I guess I’d better get an iPad first. Hmph. Maybe I’ll stick with the DVD for now.


This entry was posted on July 6, 2012 by in News and tagged , , , , .

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