This two-part project looked to reimagine a republication of a public domain book for both traditional print and as an ebook, and how interactive elements are redefining what we consider a book. Using traditional bookbinding techniques, my project envisioned what a new publication of a Sherlock Holmes classic could look like. This project also explored what an ebook publication of the timeless classic could look like, using modern technologies to envision how a mystery story could be told using interactive elements.


Technology (e-book) — InDesign, HTML, CSS, jQuery, Leaflet, and JavaScript
Software — Adobe InDesign, Apple iBooks (e-book)

Client — Academic Project
Duration — 3 months

Background

With stories of the famous London detective found in countless publications, compilations, and adaptations of varying mediums, Sherlock Holmes is a detective who has seen a plethora of clues, suspects, and elementary cases. But though these stories are of a fictional detective of twentieth-century England, his insight and strategy should not be viewed as limited to Mr. Doyle’s fictional world. With stories of Mr. Holmes using fingerprints and document idiosyncrasies to solve mysteries decades before being considered acceptable evidence in the real world, these stories depict a detective ahead of his time.

The approach looked to create a traditional style publication, using standard formats, typefaces, and layout of books during the era Sherlock Holmes was originally published. The publication would then vary in incorporating typewriter-style typefaces to give visual clues to the story told.

Design Solution

Research began by exploring the format of how the original publication was laid out and designed. From this research, I found the style of layout for illustrations and typefaces used. The style of the original book was then viewed as inspiration for my rendition.

The solution of the design was drawn from the content of the story itself. With Sherlock Holmes looking to use odd deformations found in the typewriter-written letters to help find who the suspect of the crime was. To achieve the deformations in the typewriter characters as described by Mr. Holmes, an open-source typewriter typeface was used and then edited to replicated as described in the book.

For the ebook version, a “clues briefcase” was created, enabling the user to collect clues, such as letters, illustrations, and names, as they were revealed throughout the story. The user is then prompted at the end of the story to select who they believed is responsible for the crime from the names they have collected. They then see the final page when they select the correct name.

Challenges

The challenge was mostly technological, especially with the creation of a new typeface for this publication. Using FontForge, a software for creating and editing vector typefaces for usage on computers, I was able to create a unique font specifically for this book as Mr. Holmes describes.

Additional technical challenges surrounded the “clues briefcase” option. One difficulty was with developing a way for the ebook to “remember” what clues had already been collected. At first, clues could be collected by dragging items to the “clues briefcase,” but if the user was to change pages or exit the book, the clues collected would be lost. After research and experimentation, I found that data could be saved in an ePub ebook using JavaScript Web Storage API, much like on a website. By saving the contents of the “clues briefcase” to the ebook itself, a user could change pages or even ebook reader app, returning later with all the clues collected still saved.

Additional Information

This ebook for this project was built on several open-source technologies. A complete list of these are listed below, along with their license information.