Iain M Banks


Launched this week: Official Iain Banks iPhone App

The Guardian is running a feature today on the brand new Iain Banks iPhone App that will be available to download - free of charge - from the UK Apple App Store from Thursday July 1st.

Iain's response? "My own app... how deeply cool. This pleases as much as seeing my first novel in print."

The release of the app is timed to coincide with the publication of the paperback edition of Transition and will act as a companion to the novel, offering exclusive material including: unseen chapters, character biographies, commentary from Iain and his original notes and plan for the novel.

A unique barcode printed in the back of the paperback edition will unlock the exclusive content. Just point your iPhone's camera at the code for scanning, and the companion features for the book will be transmitted to your App screen. Fans who already own the hardback edition of Transition can unlock this content as well, by following the simple instructions contained within the app.

Free Iain Banks Transition iPhone App

And this App won't stop with Transition. Content and features on future titles will be added as the App develops, Banks fans will have ongoing access to the most up to date news and features.

The App has been developed for Little,Brown by New Zealand & UK based digital agency TradeMobile. Founder Jen Porter said of the project: "At TradeMobile, we believe mobile technology must enhance and enrich the user's experience. So unlocking the 'story beyond the story' with one of the world's leading publishers is an extraordinary project and a UK first that will quite simply transform the reading experience for ever."

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17 Comments and counting

  1. Andy says:

    Looking forward to the Android app! Hope there'll be one for Surface Detail(?)

  2. Neil says:

    Does the hardback edition have the barcode?

    How will iPod Touch users unlock the extra content?

  3. Darren says:

    @Andy - I think Surface Detail content will become available via the app in due course, yes, but we'll be able to confirm that nearer the time.

    @Neill - The hardback doesn't have the bar-code, but I had a word with the powers-that-be, and they told me: "Fans who already own the hardback edition of Transition can unlock this content as well, by following the simple instructions contained within the app." which I've added to the item above as well...

    Not sure on the iPod Touch issue. Will attempt to find out and get back to you on that one...

  4. Eric says:

    I hope this makes it to the US store as well. I've been buying most of my Banks books mail order from the UK, but would like to get this kind of content as well. I can't access the UK iTunes store.

  5. Patrick says:

    @Neil -

    As of this moment, the app is for iPhone only, so doesn't run on iPod touch, strangely...

    If this is only because of the camera issue, then it's even stranger, as the unlock method for hardcover owners does not appear to make use of a camera anyway...

    But maybe the extra content involves GPS use?

  6. Mark Lord says:

    Interesting App - I just posted a review of it at http://bit.ly/cB3elL

  7. NoOneInParticular says:


    An excellent book.

    I tried to use the iPhone [jesusPhone] application but noticed that the book did not come with an iPhone for me to use the application with; Maybe it fell out.

    Because I don't have a few hundred quid l to blow on an iPhone, would someone either buy me an iPhone, lend me theirs, or provide an alternative to giving Apple money.

    Regarding me.

  8. Darren says:

    What's that saying? "If wishes were horses then beggars would ride"? But that's probably not the point you were making ;)

    I think the appropriate response would have to be that the point of the promotion is to encourage more iPhone users to read Iain Banks, rather than to encourage (or force) Iain Banks readers to use iPhones...

    Between you and me, there's some lobbying going on behind the scenes to get the first batch of content released to the website after a suitable interval has passed. As and when that happens then obviously we'll be posting the news here first.

  9. NoOneInParticular says:

    My comment was jocular, but the point made is that I want to read the information in the iPhone application without an iPhone. Some type of delayed content release, as you mention, would be well received.

  10. Chris SCott says:

    Another in a long line of apps released only to iPhone. Clearly because Apple's app store has a larger public presence - but it still means that Android, Symbian and Rim users are discriminated against. [sigh]

  11. Darren says:

    Yeah, I'm a Nokia N900 user myself, and nobody ever releases anything for Maemo... which is actually quite useful, from a distraction-minimisation point-of-view, but yes, when there's something you actually want to get hold of, it can be a royal pain.

    Again though, I think the point of this particular promotion was to reach out to the iPhone-using community and get more of them on-board as Banks readers, rather than anything nefarious or discriminatory.

    And all these comments will be passed on to the Digital team as feedback, so you never know what might come of them.

  12. Neil says:

    Good to see there's a technique available to let hardback owners in, what are the chances of the app being updated for iPod Touch? It's been set to be available to iPhone users only, but I'm sure it will work perfectly fine on the Touch for people like me who have the hardback edition, as Patrick says.

  13. CitiXen says:

    Fingers crossed then eh?! Given that apple currently have 22% of the new phone market, compared to Android's 28% and RIM's 32%, it seems short-sighted in the extreme to only release for the iPhone.. While I appreciate that this is not a move to try and get IMB readers to use the jesusPhone, it's a little galling to think that I've bought every book for years and years, usually in hardback at great expense, yet I'm not getting all that I could in the new one because of my choice of mobile phone!

    Not seen anything yet though - and it has been a couple of weeks since this post was last updated... Don't suppose there's any movement for those of use (ie - the VAST majority of the population) who don't buy into Apple's PR and marketing buzz?

    PS - LOVE the use of the phrase "iPhone-using community".. You trying to get into Private Eye? :-)

  14. Patrick says:

    I'm an iPhone developer myself, and it really should not be much of an issue to make this app available on iPod touch. I've had a look at the unlocked content by now, and there is no iPhone-specific stuff. The (unnecessary) camera gimmick is the only thing keeping it from those devices.

    Also, I've read somewhere about Transition paperbacks that don't have the special barcode. One more reason not to rely on the camera for unlocking.

    Whether they will actually update the app is another question of course...

  15. rune says:

    It's just a shame that the only format available to receive this content is the hideous, chunky and slightly hilarious iPhone.

    If the app was Java, it would run on most phones and most PC's.......

    Now i'm faced with downloading an iPhone emulator to access the content....

  16. Barrie says:

    I can't update the earlier version of the Iain Banks app for iPhone.
    The iTunes page shows 'Downloaded' in the download tab.
    What's up Little Brown, can't get it right?

  17. Darren says:

    Hi Barrie - Very sorry to hear that you've been having trouble there. I've checked with m'colleagues who worked on the App and they say there hasn't been an update to the app for a while though, so they've suggested uninstalling then reinstalling to make sure you've got the latest version (sorry, I'm iAgnostic myself so I can't double-check from here).

    Or failing that, feel free to drop another comment in with as much detail as you can give us and I'll see if I can get someone to re-diagnose the problem, see if there's a solution.

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