Video Book? Is That Like A Horseless Carriage?

from the change-your-perspective dept

It’s no secret that when new technologies and innovations come along, we tend to look at them through the prism of what we already have. We look at them as a minor improvement on what was done before — this technology lets us do something faster or better — rather than at ways that it enables us to do something totally new. Because of that, you often get amusing attempts at reinventing the old with the new that don’t seem to take any advantage of what the new innovation really allows. It’s simply a weak attempt to take the old and move it into the new. This comes to mind as PaidContent last week discussed the Harper Collins attempt to offer a $10 “video book,” which was really just author Jeff Jarvis talking about his book for 23 minutes against a white backdrop. For $10. As Tim O’Reilly noted, the concept of the “video book” sounds like “moving pictures” or the “horseless carriage.”

That’s not to knock Harper Collins for at least trying something new — but to note that when you’re jumping into a new medium it’s important not to identify it by the constraints of the old medium. A video presentation that complements a book by engaging people in a conversation could be quite interesting — but not at $10 a pop. That’s not engaging people in a conversation at all. In fact, it’s the same traditional publisher mindset of “let’s release something and get people to pay $10 – $30 for this unit of content.” It doesn’t take into account what the internet and video actually allows you to do that’s different. This seems especially ironic, since Jarvis’ book is called What Would Google Do, and it’s all about making business decisions a la Google. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I don’t think Google would be offering video books for $10 a pop.

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Companies: harper collins

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Comments on “Video Book? Is That Like A Horseless Carriage?”

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r0cksinp0ckets says:

Those who care

by Anonymous Coward – Feb 12th, 2009 @ 5:01pm

And those who don’t care make fun of the morons who post drivel like this.

Those who “don’t care” are indifferent.

So why do you waste your energy/time
“making fun of the morons”

if you don’t care? or do you?

truly an Anonymous Coward.. well done

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Those who care

Or is it that they are making fun of the morons, such as yourself, because they don’t care. Because you know, they’re indifferent.. to well… everything and have nothing better to do that make fun of you for being a self absorbed assclown who thinks he’s some how smarter than the asshat next to him. Good going jackhole, now I care.

Steve Weissman (user link) says:


Like you, I was intrigued by the Harper Collins idea of a video book. In the course of creating a website to promote my traditional (print) biography of Charlie Chaplin….CHAPLIN A LIFE (ARCADE,2008) I created a multi-media website which is both packed with wonderful photographs (too expensive to include in the print book) AND also containing fascinating film clips.

While I originally designed (and copyrighted) the website to promote my print-book, I realized–in the course of working on it– that the format of could also serve as a potential model or template for a multi-media “E-book” or “Video Book” of the future.

Unfortunately, neither the KINDLE nor the SONY readers currently have the multi-media display capability for such an electronic book-of-the-future.

AND my traditional print-book publisher (ARCADE, NYC) is neither equipped nor interested in pursuing this idea. And my literary agent (the Levine Greenburg Literary Agency,NYC) doesn’t have the time or inclination to pursue the possibility of transforming my website into a Video Book.

To get an idea of what I am talking about, look at the film clips in photo-essays #1,10,12,13,14,19,22,23 & 33 on my website.

While it’s obvious that a film clip & photo-rich video book for a movie-maker like Charlie Chaplin is a natural subject, the video book possibilities are infinite:

Picture a Martin Luther King VIDEO BOOK biography where the reader flips/clicks effortlessly between printed text describing the Selma march or the I HAVE A DREAM SPEECH and is then able to view the actual newsreel footage of those events before returning back to the text itself. And the same applies to history books and instructional books.

So if there’s any willing and knowledgeable established publisher out there in the blogosphere and cyberspace please check this out.

Right now I feel like a visionary whose short-sighted (and deaf) agent and publisher cant see/hear what their daffy author is talking about.

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