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
    hegemon13, 11 Sep 2009 @ 2:17pm

    Re: Making eBooks Multi-media

    "I don't see why books for grown-ups cannot add in additional features."

    Because, if we are talking about novels, the additions you refer to make it something other than a novel. "Additional features" have already existed for a long time. Graphic novels are a good example. They're not better or worse, but they are a completely different art form. Same with audiobooks. Even unabridged ones with the best readers are still performances, which alter the experience of reading the book.

    You ask why not. I ask, why? What is missing in a well-written novel that I need to be interrupted by irritating animations or sounds? I really sink into a novel when I am reading. The outside work "dims," so to speak. Intrusions within the book are not welcome.

    "We did just that with our ebooks for children. They can watch as the illustrations come to life through animation. They can listen to the story as the words highlight."

    This sounds like a cool product, but it is not a book. It is closer to a cartoon, or an animated graphic novel. Why animate great artwork? Great artwork is beautiful and enjoyable to admire, even when it is standing still. While I have seen great-quality animation, it is not the same art form as still art, and I have rarely (if ever) seen attempts to "animate" good artwork come off as anything other than cheap or cheesy. Your idea has been done many times already, but it usually appeared in a somewhat less-interactive form on PBS.

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