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Nick Cave's R-Rated, $25 iPhone app for Bunny Munro: the future of reading?


Nick Cave reads from The Death of Bunny Munro. iPhone sold separately.

As MC Hammer was to Twitter, so will Nick Cave be to iPhone audiobooks. Or at least that's the impression we get from reading the press release on the app-store version of Nick's new novel, The Death of Bunny Munro. We were approaching Nick's new novel cautiously, because on more than several occasions we've tried to slog our way through the paperback version of his last novel, 1989's . . . And the Ass Saw the Angel. That was a long time ago, back when the multimedia accompaniment was limited to say, putting "Tupelo" on the stereo while trying to decipher Mr. Cave's dense biblical prose.

Technology, and the author, have come a long way since then: according to the publisher, Cave wrote the first chapter of the book on his iPhone! And now you can read it -- gasp! -- on your iPhone! Among other things, the $24.99 Bunny Munro app includes:

- audio of Nick reading the unabridged book
- 11 videos of Nick reading from the book, some of which have already found their way to YouTube
- An "original soundtrack" for the audiobook by Cave and Warren Ellis (of the Dirty Three, who by the way are in town at the ICA on Thursday), which on the iPhone is delivered via "a groundbreaking 3D audio spatial mix, specifically designed for listening on headphones, creating an immersive experience for the listener that is unprecedented for an audiobook"
- sync between audio and text versions, so that if you're thumbing along through the pages and suddenly want Nick to start reading the next passage, well, there's an app for that
- the sound of elephants fucking

Most of that will be somewhat self-explanatory, but let's elaborate on that last item. There are two audio engineers credited with creating the aforementioned 3D sound mix, and they describe their work thusly:

Working from fragments of music provided by Warren and Nick, we introduced real-world sound effects [. . .] to construct a complete soundscape for the narrative designed not only to enhance your experience but also to disturb and interrupt it.

For example, you hear sounds occupy the acoustic space inside Bunny’s canary yellow Punto, you hear the infrasonic rumblings of elephants mating on the TV in the corner of the room and you experience the sound of fear rising from the pit of your stomach…

There's also some pretty good iBookes-ish stuff that's applicable even to authors who don't have built in rock-n-roll cult followings built in. For instance, you can grab quotes from the novel and email 'em to friends. If someone adds FB connect  or Twitter o-auth to this, the publishing world might actually enter the 21st century. And yes, at $25 it had better be full of special features -- although next to the $250 limited-edition hardcover, it's quite the steal. 

Perhaps the best advertisement for the whole thing comes from the iTunes store app page, which warns potential buyers of the following, for which its purchase is restricted to those 17 and up: 

  • Infrequent/Mild realistic violence
  • Frequent/Intense Sexual Conduct or Nudity
  • Frequent/Intense Profanity or Crude Humor
  • Frequent/Intense Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References
  • Frequent/Intense Mature/Suggestive Themes

Now that's a book we'd pay $25 for. 

DOWNLOAD: Nick Cave, The Death of Bunny Munro [iPhone app]

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