Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Enhanced E-Book

You knew it was coming. As soon as the iPad launched, with its bigger screen and the ability to have color, show videos and other whizbang stuff, you could have guessed that authors had better get prepared to do more than just write the perfect book. Now, readers, when they buy an e-book, will look for “books” that offer more than just the words.

David Baldacci's latest book Deliver Us From Evil will be released in many forms, including an “enriched” electronic version. That version will include enhancements like “an alternate ending to the story, deleted passages, an audio interview, video of Baldacci at work, and research photos taken by the author.” It’s designed for those e-book platforms, like the iPad, that handle video and color. Of course, there will be other versions for those platforms that can’t do video and color.

And he’s not the only author jumping on this padded wagon. According to an article in Publishers Lunch, Hachette Book Group, Baldacci’s publisher, is working with many of their biggest authors, including “Stephenie Meyer, James Patterson, Michael Connelly, Brad Meltzer and others.” They may be starting with their big name authors, but the others are also getting in on the regular e-book rage: “…the company has digitized and made available as ebooks 90 percent of the books on their list that lend themselves to current electronic formats.”

I can see the possibility of interactive games or puzzles to go with children’s books. Or group discussions on teen or adult books. So many possibilities. On the other hand, Hachette Book Group also published Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I don’t think I’d want to see that video in the middle of the book.

Of course, if you don’t want to be published in e-format, Hachett Book Group says you don’t have to be: “…some of our authors do not want to appear in this format, and that's absolutely their prerogative.”

What about you? Have you already jumped on the e-book train? Are you ready to upgrade your ticket to the car with videos, photos and other enhancements?
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28 comments:

  1. I'm not sure I'd go for alternate endings and all that. It seems like a lot of the extras they put on DVDs are just there to fill space and kill time. We used to religiously look at every deleted scene. Then we decided there was probably a good reason most of them were deleted. Then we stopped bothering. I suspect the same would happen with extended e-books too.

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  2. Oh gosh. Well, I could put in alternate endings because I've usually written an ending where each of the suspects murdered the victim (to see which I think is strongest), but still...what a pain!

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

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  3. Books are becoming DVDs. I don't know about alternate endings. Writing them would be a fun challenge, but I don't think I'd want to read one. I want the ending the author intended.

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  4. Sheila's right - it'll be like DVD extras.
    I'm all for eBooks, but not with all that extra junk. Seems counter-productive to the peacefulness of reading a book.

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  5. This is only the beginning. Ebooks have unlimited potential.
    A little something here that is worth a look. http://michaelhyatt.com/2010/03/the-future-of-publishing.html
    The video is great.

    I'll jump into ebooks when I get the opportunity.

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  6. Today this seems to me to be one more step towards taking away our ability to think for ourselves.

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  7. I saw something like this on one of the YA book blogger sites - a book for the iPod with interactive features.
    Maybe the next generation WILL dig it. I think it's dumb! If I want visual stuff, I'll just rent the movie. Then again, that's probably just my old-school way of thinking.

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  8. And I'm sure that for the tremendous extra work required of the author for all these fun extras, the publisher is paying them extra $$$ to compensate for their efforts. Right?

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  9. I do have an e-reader, but don't use it often and buy most of my books at the bookstore. I don't think the interactive features will be for me.

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  10. I have a feeling these extras are aimed at the young generation who have never known a world that didn't include online videos and games. To them, a book can seem very plain.

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  11. Yes, Helen, I agree - I think this is definitely for the younger generation.
    Karen

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  12. Helen, I almost blogged about EXACTLY this today--have the Publisher's Marketplace link marked in my email, but then a personal thing came up--too funny--I've been SCOOPED! *snort*

    You are much more equipped for a serious take on the matter though--you know me... can't keep my clothes on.

    My first ever completed 'novel' had two endings--the dark one intended, and a happy one because I had readers begging me--it was a fan fiction, and I had a ball with it. I LOVE the idea though, of the insight into the author's process. That was an innovation I hadn't anticipated and find it clever--I bet a lot of WRITERS buy this.

    I'm very excited they're exploring where this might go, and I think while 'alternate ending' may not be everyone's cup of tea, that this piece of the eBook has just opened a door for some real innovation.

    Elizabeth, I can't believe you write ALL the endings!!! Nut.

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  13. I don't like the idea of alternate endings, but the other stuff sounds pretty cool. I can see 3-D coming, and a movie version of the book you can watch that is a visual playing of the story with all the characters and settings, etc. computerized, and enhanced, and brought to the screen.

    Just think ... one of my next books will really be made into a movie!!!

    Sky's the limit with this kind of rapidly developing technology, hmm? In fact, deep space is the (non)limit(ed).

    Marvin D Wilson

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  14. I just released an iPhone book app and included spoken word, music and art with the text. It became a 'different book' and took a lot of work. Not sure I'll go for much more bells and whistles next time. Guess it depends how it does...

    http://bit.ly/dtmApZ

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  15. Hmmm... I hadn't thought about these implications. Wow - lots to think about.

    I could probably do a blooper reel :)

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  16. Eddie, I think you're the first I know of to do that. I'd love to hear how you did it and what the process was like. I'll link over to see if the link you left is about it.

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  17. Don't like the idea of alternate endings. Tha'ts too much commercial adaption, which takes the edge off the book. It kind of makes the author write what the reader wants to read, rather making the reader read what the author wants to tell.

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  18. I really like some of the stuff you could do in a multi-media format. You could add links to maps or photos of your location. If there are unique cultural aspects that figure in your story, you could link to those. Wouldn't Tony Hillerman stories be great in a multi-media format? On the other hand, alternative endings and deleted scenes? No! Why were they deleted? Because they didn't add to the story or they were just plain crap. You don't go into a restaurant and ask the chef to include the garbage can as a side dish. You don't frame an artist's paint rags or a sculptors stone chips. I want to read the author's best work, not what the author deleted.

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  19. Helen, I know I was the first to do it with an Irish book...I can tell you how it was done...I'd like to improve on it if it begins to sell.

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  20. Eddie, you are way ahead of the curve on this!

    Mark, the only way I could see including deleted scenes might be if you wanted to expand a character more. I'm editing a book I wrote long ago and cutting a ton of stuff on a major character. I *might* could see including that in a bonus section.

    I don't write alternate endings, but it's interesting that Elizabeth sometimes does. That might be interesting in a section separate from the book. She could tell what an alternate ending would have been, but why she did not go in that direction.

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  21. I never look at all the extras that come on a DVD these days, so I doubt I'll bother with the extras on an e-book (that's, of course, assuming I ever get acquainted with e-books at all).

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  22. My publisher has made my book available as an ebook and on Kindle. I guess if I’m asked to add enhancements – I’d stress about it but I’d try to do it.

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  23. Wow alternative ending and audio? It's too much for a self-publishing author.

    Steamy Darcy

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  24. I love the idea of publishing a book like a DVD... complete with trailer, a "behind-the-scenes" documentary, links to important resources concerning the book, pictures of settings used in the novel, and maybe even a playlist of music the author listened to as they created their masterpiece. It's the all-encompassing tech of it that really makes my scifi-molded heart go pitty-pat.

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  25. I can see it working for sci-fi books!

    Enid, the idea of self-publishing already intimidates me!

    Patricia, I never look at the extas either.

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  26. My bubble is well and truly shattered. I uploaded my latest - Storms & Secrets - on Smashwords.com last week-end and was happy with how easy it was to do. I was oblivious to all the bells and whistles available in different formats. Just when you get something figured out, it gets more complicated.
    Ann
    www.annsummerville.com

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  27. Hey Helen - I was inspired by this post to write a muse about "enhanced ebook" technology to come post and pub'd it today on my blog today, along with a shout out about your blog. Check it out, I'd love your feedback/opinion.

    The Old Silly

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  28. I totally agree, Ann, it does keep getting more and more complicated. Either that or I'm just getting too old to keep up. I feel sort of like I'm being dragged into the new world kicking and screaming, "I don't want to do this. I don't want to learn that." But there's no going back. We have to go forward.

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