The Pickle Index is a short novel published in two simultaneous, stand-alone editions: a crazy, innovative slipcased double-hardcover, and an immersive, serialized app for iPhone/iPad.
"In a glum nation ruled by a stylish dictator, all citizens are required by law to participate in the Pickle Index, a fermentation-based recipe exchange. From within this network, an incompetent circus attempts an unlikely uprising. Thrills, chills, spills, and dills!"
A self-initiated project by Eli Horowitz and Russell Quinn (collectively "Sudden Oak") to create a unique novel that comes in two forms: a hardcover book and an iOS app.
Both editions include the full story and are designed as stand-alone experiences. Each form does only things that form can do — the book-iest book and the app-iest app. The story and the technology were written and built alongside each other, each informing the other — a true collaboration. This isn't an existing novel with digital bells and whistles attached, nor was it created inside a generic technology platform that defines the constraints of the work.
The two experiences:
Outside-in: Read the book — two lavishly illustrated hardcovers nestled together in a gold-encrusted slipcase, plus an unprecedented feat of interactive book design.
Inside-out: The app is the actual eponymous recipe-sharing index. Experience the unfolding story (and disgusting recipes) in realtime alongside the citizens and amateur revolutionaries. Along the way, the app plays with serialization, mini-games, reader participation, upvoting, and even network overloads — all in service of the storytelling, a caper through ominous fortresses, angry mimes, and festivals of snacking. The result is an immersive, exploratory ten-day experience, a groundbreaking interplay of form and content. (The design and user experience is supposedly created by the slightly looney government that you learn more about as the narrative progresses.)
The creators of The Pickle Index clearly thought deeply about how platforms and technologies create very specific opportunities and constraints for storytelling.
We loved that the narrative thoughtfully took advantage of the affordances of both a printed book and a mobile app.
It was great to see interaction design thinking applied to a non-digital experience, breaking boundaries and expectations of how one reads and experiences a book.