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Interactive Annual 19:
Tablets/Handheld Devices

NYPL Biblion: Frankenstein

Launch App

“An innovative way to allow users to navigate large amounts of content. It presents multiple views but stays consistent and organized, allowing users to find their bearing regardless of where their interest lies. ”
—Sophie Henry

“A beautiful design and UX invites participation and exploration.” —Scott Prindle

Overview: Biblion: Frankenstein is the second edition of the New York Public Library’s (NYPL) flagship iPad app. It re-envisions the stories of Percy Bysshe Shelley and his circle for a new digital audience and includes every existing handwritten page of Mary Shelley’s first draft of Frankenstein. While sharing the navigation cues and styles of the first edition, this version uses a novel 3-D interface that gives shape to the information and the uniqueness of the content in a virtual environment. An updated book view is optimized for reading and dynamically refreshes photos as they relate to the text and the AskBiblion, AnswerBiblion and PollBiblion community components allow the at-large NYPL community to contribute comments, questions and poll votes.

  • • A new “source view,” accessed by rotating the iPad to landscape orientation, enables users to reference original source documents that are discussed throughout the stories.
  • • Biblion: World’s Fair was chosen for Apple’s App Hall of Fame; Biblion: Frankenstein was chosen as a top education app in the store, and received a Parent’s Choice Award.

Comments by Phillip Tiongson, Caroline Oh and Steve Varga

What was the most challenging aspect of the project? “Because of its incredible success, Biblion: World’s Fair was a hard act to follow. When designing the second edition, we looked for places where we could streamline the design and improve the experience without losing any of the ‘good stuff.’ We wanted users to be able to get to the content with fewer clicks and to stay engaged longer. Also, while World’s Fair has many more images, Frankenstein was more about the essays and documents (like Mary Shelley’s original manuscript). We had to look at how the design of Biblion could grow and evolve as the content contained within it changes.

“Also unique to this project was the fact that Mary Shelley’s handwriting is a challenge to read. We wanted to use the text of the published book as a typed version of the text but some pages actually did not survive, and because it was an early draft, the story had actually changed between the handwritten pages and the first printed edition. It was a real challenge matching the two texts. In the end, readers gained access to two editions of Frankenstein and the opportunity to compare an early printed edition to a handwritten version to see how the author’s thoughts changed over time.”


Caroline Oh, graphic designer
Richert Schnorr, lead designer
Jared Schiffman/Phillip Tiongson, principals
Xiaoyang Feng/Josh Fisher/Wesley Trager/Filippo Vanucci/Steve Varga, developers
Lauren Trainor, assistant editor
Sarah Bruni, editor
James Murdock, senior managing editor
Ken Benson/Elizabeth Hayes/Jon Pace/Heidi Singer/Abby Tannenbaum, senior editors
Deanna Lee, editor in chief
Jonathan Blanc, photo editor
Allison Farber, producer
Ben Holland-Arlen, production manager
Charles C. Carter/Elizabeth C. Denlinger/Stephen Hebron/Johannes Neuer, consultants
New York Public Library/Potion (New York, NY), project design and development
New York Public Library, client

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