Angry Birds has become such a mobile institution, and its maker, Rovio, has gone so far in its extension of that brand — toys, books, t-shirts, cereal, theme parks, films and more games — that this morning’s invitation to a launch of Rovio’s first ever book app came as something of a surprise. But it’s true: despite all the work Rovio (and others that Rovio seems to tolerate happily) has put into spinning out its wildly successful mobile game about catapulting birds onto structures made by pigs, the company has never produced an official book app.
That’s all changing come next week, when Rovio will unveil its first effort in the e-book app market. And it’s choosing one of the biggest events on the publishing world calendar — the Frankfurt Book Fair — to unveil it. A Rovio spokesperson confirms that the commercial release will be “very soon,” and that there will be multiple book apps coming to market.
The invitation, as you can see below, doesn’t give a huge amount away. What we can see is that it’s not clearly branded Angry Birds, but we do have a lot of pig heads piled up. But that could also be just a bit of opportunistic cross marketing: right now Rovio is hard at work promoting another product, the new game Bad Piggies, even giving over the home page of the Angry Birds URL to the purpose.
What will be interesting to see is how Rovio flies the “book app” format: there have been e-books that are effectively facsimiles of printed books and mobile apps that are games and clearly not books. Where book apps really stand out is when they combine a reading (often word-based) narrative with lots of interactivity, something that Rovio very much does well. It’s been something used a lot in non-fiction book apps but you can see how a ‘choose your own adventure’ format, for example, could work really well here.
There have been some who have argued that Angry Birds poses the biggest threat to the publishing industry. Let’s see what kind of reception the Mighty Eagle and his crew get next week.