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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. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), 10 Sep 2009 @ 6:47am

    Making books multimedia

    I actually had a couple of ideas similar to this on how to make eBooks stand out. Some might even call it transformative, but the idea overall is to change the eBook from replicating its paper cousin and turning it into something of a multimedia experience.

    The first thought is relatively simple: the essential difference between a paperback book and an eBook is the screen. So what can we do with it that we can't do on paper?

    For non-fiction it's simple: interactive and non-interactive media dealing with the topics written about. Animated graphical data, video applicable to the topic, other multimedia. For books on history or languages, you can have audio of speeches or speech, zoomable pictures of documents, animated battle graphics showing troop movements in battles on a map with simulations of what might have happened if the user chooses to alter the battle.

    But for fiction it's even better. I was thinking about two things. First, remembering Crichton and how he enjoyed putting news articles, transcripts of speeches, and/or accounts of TV newscasts in his works, why not put short multimedia snippets/versions of these embedded IN the eBook? SHOW the newscast, then we can continue on reading. You don't want to turn the whole book into multimedia, but for the parts in the story that ARE multimedia in the fiction, why not?

    Secondly, on a more juevenille level, eBooks need to be used to bring back "Choose Your Own Adventures", preferably in both child and adult versions. No more annoyingly flipping through the pages in order to find where you're supposed to go, accidentally stumbling upon an ending to the story, etc.

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