Doing More With eBooks

from the hey,-look-at-what-the-technology-allows dept

While I can understand some of the interest in ebooks, one of the things I haven't quite understood was the effort to focus on making ebooks more like regular books. In the history of "killer apps," the one thing that tends to stand out is that they show up when the new technology allows something new that couldn't be done before. Simply mimicking the old on a new platform isn't a recipe for widespread success. And, sure, ebooks can let you store a lot of books on a single device, or take notes, but they haven't really taken advantage of what the technology could enable.

David Thomson points us to an interesting ebook experiment involving singer and novelist Nick Cave, who has created an ebook for the iPhone, that involves a whole lot more. Beyond just the text, there are both the audio and video versions of Cave reading along -- and that includes some music that goes with the book as well. Plus, it includes a "news feed" though it's not clear what's in it. The pricing still seems a bit expensive ($25), but it's great to at least see some experimenting with what the technology should allow.

One other interesting tidbit: it wasn't Cave who came up with the idea, but his publisher who really pushed to make the ebook into something more, and roped Cave into agreeing to add the extra stuff. It's nice to see that at least some of the middlemen providers are looking to step up and take charge, rather than just leaving it all to the content creators.

Filed Under: ebooks, iphone, nick cave


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  1. identicon
    fogbugzd, 10 Sep 2009 @ 7:47am

    What ebooks need

    I read a lot of ebooks on my Android phone. My eyesight is less that perfect, but I find it no more difficult than reading a paper book.

    The problem with ebooks, in my opinion, is that the platforms are not open, and the people controlling the platforms think small and in terms of milking every penny they can from their devices. In the process they do not give me what I am willing to spend money on, and I content myself with the many free books that are available. (If I was so inclined, I could get almost any book because books are pirated almost as much as music.) If they will give me what I want, I will spend money on dedicated readers and on publications. Until then I will make do with what I have.

    I want an open source platform that will let me read my books on whatever device I have at hand. I want to be able to read on a Kindle device when I am home and on my Sony reader on my lunch hour at work. I want to be able to read it on a netbook when I am on a plane, and I want to be able to read on my cell phone when I am stuck waiting somewhere that it isn't convenient to have either of the other devices with me. If a better device by a different manufacturer comes out, I want to be able to transfer my books to the new device. I want to be able to read the book or have my device transform it to audio when that is more convenient. I want to be able to search and cross reference my books, and I want to take notes. I will accept watermarking or some form of DRM as long as it doesn't get in the way of my using the book I bought in the manner I want to use it. I want my reader to be flexible enough to use as a web browser in a pinch, and to sync up with things like my Google calendar and email. It would be nice to hook up with other readers of the same book in some type of twittery-bloggie-IMie forum.

    Give me portability, and I will probably send the ebook publishers and device manufacturers a lot of money in the form of purchases. Until then I will spend it on other things.


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