Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like I’ve been hearing about more and more companies lately—some of them new, and some that have been around for awhile—that are putting together large and (presumably) expensive teams of designers and developers to create digitally-enhanced “electronic reading experiences,” as they’re often called.

The latest such organization I’ve heard of is Byook, a French company that was founded in 2009 by three friends who worked in the video game and digital entertainment industries, and they refer to their product as “a new reading experience.” That might be a bit of a stretch, given the number of other small outfits that have lately been releasing similar books and apps. But still, the Byook—it’s designed specifically for smartphones and tablets—sounds interesting enough. It was explained to me as a sort of literary video game that “brings books to life by incorporating graphics, animation, and sound effects.”

I haven’t had a chance to play around with one of the company’s offerings just yet, but the Byook team says there are three key points that differentiate it from anything else in the marketplace:

• Every page of the Byook is enhanced with a graphical and musical rhythm that echoes the narrative rhythm of the text.

• Manipulation is very simple. The reader has to do only one thing: turn pages. No gadget interaction, no clicking, no shaking.

• Imagination is key. Although pictures are shown, the Byook suggests more than it shows by playing with reader’s imagination though sounds and pictures.

Byook’s first two products were Sherlock Holmes: The Speckled Band ($1.99), and a young adult book, Tara Duncan ($0.99), that was based on a bestselling YA series from France. As of now, the books are only available to Apple users, but an Android app is on the way.

And while Byook only has a few products to choose from right now, a note on its website explains that they’ve “recently joined numerous book publishers and license holders in their migration towards digital books.” For more details, check out any of the videos below.


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