Back in the early days of personal computing, the promise of interactive, multimedia, hypertext books was exciting, notably with Voyager's Expanded Books.

But in those days, the limits of technology prevented those "books" from gaining a foothold. You could have links and unlimited text content, but the size of videos was just slightly larger than a postage stamp, and audio codecs weren't as advanced as they are today. Also, you had to read them on a computer screen, with the limited resolutions of the time.

The iPad offers such powerful features – and excellent resolution – that truly enhanced books are possible. Here are six apps for the iPad that have popped up in recent years that look at great literature, paying homage to fantastic works while adding new layers.

Shakespeare on the iPad

Let's start with the Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare. Both poet and playwright are represented with excellent apps. Touch Press's £9.99 The Sonnets by William Shakespeare is a perfect example of what's possible in an enhanced book.

Not only do you get the text itself and notes from the Arden Shakespeare edition, but you also get videos of actors (including Patrick Stewart, who was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company long before he was Picard or an Internet sensation) and Shakespeare specialists reading all 154 sonnets. There's a facsimile of the 1609 Quarto edition of the poems, and plenty of background information to help you understand them.

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