The Silent History gives readers a story which unfolds through ‘testimonials’ that are released every weekday, and ‘field reports’ which can only be read if you travel to a specific location. Readers are also encouraged to write and contribute their own localised instalments.

Electronic Book Includes Geolocation among its Reading Options

QR codes and collaborative writing are two of the ways digital book publishers nowadays
are enhancing the reading experience. Now two authors, Kevin Moffett and Matthew Derby
have devised a role for geolocation as well. They have got together with former publisher Eli Horowitz and Russell Quinn, the founder of an agency specialising in digital media, to create
an e-book which offers the reader a novel experience – in all senses of the word. The Silent History, which first appeared in October, invites readers to use a mobile app in order to follow
the storyline of a fantasy tale which is revealed through daily instalments and can be further
enhanced by additional geolocalised detail.

Readers drawn to make the trip

The story takes place between 2011 and 2043, chronicling a future in which many children
– dubbed ‘silents’ – are born without the ability to speak, though they also seem to
possess strange powers. The book breaks down into two parts. The first part comprises
fictitious ‘testimonials’ from people – parents, teachers, doctors etc. – involved in the events
taking place, revealed to the e-reader on the basis of one per day. There are 120 of these. The
second part consists of ‘field reports’ which only become available at particular locations,
specifically when the GPS coordinates of the reader’s mobile device match those of the

Pushing the boundaries of reader-interaction

The application’s creators have made it clear that a reader doesn’t necessarily have to peruse
the field reports in order to follow the storyline. However, readers are being drawn to interact
with the app in novel ways. Those who make the effort to travel to the places where the field
reports are available and read them are then encouraged to write their own field reports,
providing extra information or adding touches of detail to the existing reports. The creators
even suggest that readers who live too far away from the scene of a field report but own a
mobile with geolocation functionality write their own reports. If you’re keen to start following
the tale yourself, you may have to wait a while however, as the application is at present only
available in the United States and exclusively on iPads and iPhones.