Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Changing E-Book

Most of us are still thinking of the e-book as a book read on an electronic device. And a great many of us don’t have an e-reader yet. But the e-publishing world is not waiting on us to get one. They’re constantly changing and increasing the experience of reading on an e-reader. Now, according to The New York Times, you don’t just read text – and we may just be changing from the “e” in e-books standing for “electronic” to standing for “enriched” books.
The new multimedia books use video that is integrated with text, and they are best read — and watched — on an iPad, the tablet device that has created vast possibilities for book publishers.
Publishers are doing more than just transferring printed words to the electronic world.
Simon [and] Schuster has taken the best-selling “Nixonland,” first published in hardcover in 2008 in a whopping 896 pages, and scattered 27 videos throughout the e-book…. Penguin’s edition of Mr. Follett’s “Pillars of the Earth” comes with video clips from an eight-part television series based on the book
While these types of additions may not work for every book, publishers are looking for ways to enhance e-books. The New York Times said:
… eventually the books could regularly feature full-length movies and photo slideshows. For authors who are open to the concept, new books could be written with multimedia in mind.
Do you see the opportunity for multi-media in the book you’re writing? Would you write a book, trying to include such an opportunity?
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40 comments:

  1. I'm not sure what I think about this. A multi-media form of literature/art is interesting, and of course I can see it will become popular. I still, however, hope the "book" remains as a distinct form of art. Being able to create a world with written words, stimulating the imagination ... that is an art form that I certainly hope will survive this multi-media-mania going on in contemporary society.

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  2. Wow - this is so over the top. On one hand I'd love it for non-fiction to fill out various aspects. But with fiction, I love the fact with novels inspire us employ our own imaginations as opposed to watching a movie. These changes may have many more implications than would appear on the surface. What will this do to young people's imaginations who are already overexposed to videos on the the internet, in games and on TV? Will this hamper the imaginations of young readers and take away their incentive to create their own stories, characters and images?

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  3. From the very beginning of writing my first book I dreamed of commissioning a bunch of artwork that could be scattered throughout the book. It would be awesome if the eReaders allow covers, maps, and art to all be accessible in eBooks.

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  4. At this point I don't think much of this idea. To me, it's dumbing down. Publisher still trying to control things and now saying people need to be shown what to imagine as they read.
    Another way to jack up the cost of production and you can bet it won't be going to the author.
    The words will be the filler of the video.

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  5. At what point, I wonder, do the new e-books become non-books. Include a full length film and you are well beyond anyone's line of demarcation, I suggest. It's an augmented film, perhaps?

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  6. Very good questions, ggray.

    Ted Cross, I've read some historical fiction where I would have loved a map.

    Excellent points. These extras seem like they'd work best with non-fiction, but if you add too many into fiction, you're in danger of taking away from the purpose and joy of fiction. Where is the line between enhancing and replacing imagination?

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  7. That's depressing for self published authors. We've to hire a production crew in future to compete!

    Steamy Darcy

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  8. Just when I'm starting to understand and even think about e-readers, more changes are made. It almost sounds like each book will be turned into its own mini movie and we'll be carrying around mini DVD players to 'read books' on. I'm almost scared to wonder what is next. LOL

    Mason
    Thoughts in Progress

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  9. This worries me now...it worried me when I first read about it a while ago. I'm afraid the media will take over the written word...

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  10. Liza, people are more likely, I think, to watch a movie than to read. Adding video to ebooks will, I agree, change the way we "read."

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  11. I don't consciously think about this as I write, but I think that what I write might work well in this kind of venue.

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  12. Interesting, as an author of historic true crime I could show re-enactments of rub outs or crimes. That could be cool. But it may be redundant, write about it than show it. I guess I wouldn't have to write about it. Simply say "..then on July 2, 1928 he got bumped off." then let the reader click the video to see how it played out. Trouble is unless there is a publisher putting up money for high quality production you're going to have authors running around with their friends and a video camera making low quality videos.

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  13. Whoa...I can see the appeal in it, but when does it become a movie instead of a book?

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  14. Carol, I could see music added to yours.

    Very true, Pat. Authors who don't have the backing of publishers or their own money have trouble putting together a great book trailer. How would they compete with professional additions within the book?

    Laura, it is possible that the inserted videos could go overboard and books could go almost straight to movies.

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  15. I think the kids will enjoy these new types of e-books. They are used to having the written word as part of a multi media setting >:)

    Cold As Heaven

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  16. I think the possibilities are just beginning to be tapped and we won't know for awhile what forms they can take. The first book I loaded onto my iPad was Michael Connelly's Nine Dragons and it came with a link to a video interview of him touring some of the places in the story. It did not change the story or even add much to the experience of reading, but it was a pleasant addition to the book.

    I think such things will become standard. Why not? Authors are already putting that kind of material on their websites, so adding snippets of it to a book is not a big step. Searching Google or Wikipedia for more information on a word, expression, or location is something that some people do routinely when they read. Kindle, iBook and Nook readers (at least the iPad versions) have Wikipedia and Google search functions built in. Highlight a word or a string and you go instantly to text, pictures and videos.

    We're in a multimedia age and I think we should embrace it.

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  17. Interesting stuff. I can see kids being really drawn to this - but most of the kids I teach are not in the income level where they could afford it.

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  18. When I read I love to imagine what the authors world looks like and their characters.

    Not too sure about having pictures.

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  19. Absolutely. I've even blogged about the Hollywood starts who could play the roles of the characters. Matthew McConaughy, Jessica Alba, Tom Hanks and so on. I love the idea and the direction eReaders are taking, although I would probably ignore much of it as I just want to read the darn book.

    Stephen Tremp

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  20. It seems to me like it's mixing books with movies and I'm not sure I like that. Quality may be sacrificed. However, I can see the lure of this for folks. I just hope old-fashioned books in print remain while all these changes are taking place.
    Karen

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  21. Cold As Heaven, you're right. I can see how the multi-media books would help retain the attention of children. Picture books would too, but today's kids are used to more.

    Mark, we do tend to dig in our heels and fight change, don't we?

    Jemi, a lot of libraries are lending ebooks and even ereaders now. If multi-media books take off, libraries will probably add them to their stock.

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  22. I wonder, Victoria, if the video matches your image of a character would that enhance the pleasure of the book? And if it doesn't, would it hurt the enjoyment?

    That would hard, Stephen, I think. Read the book and then go back and watch the videos? Could I do that?

    I don't know, Karen. I'm sort of torn. I love print books and can't imagine a world without them. But...things sure are changing. I think they may drop in popularity over the next few decades. Maybe even drastically.

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  23. I'm going to seek out some of those books now!
    I can see graphic novels taking on a whole new dimension. They're amazing to read on the iPad now, but add video, and it will be pure Heaven.

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  24. I’m obviously behind the times. When I’m reading, I simply want to read. If I want to watch a video then I’ll sit in front of the TV. But I’m sure I’ll be eating these words one day!)

    I’d love to be able to write for a specific target like multi-media, but I have to write whatever pops into my head.

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  25. The Vook! I started hearing about these last fall. Lots of possibilities...

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  26. Alex, I hadn't thought of graphic novels!

    Jane, you may not have to write to the medium. Just write and you or someone will envision how the visual or sound can be added.

    Diane, do you see it working for the novels you've already written?

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  27. I really get where this would be appealing, but I am saddened to think that people might not find enough imagery in the written word. I don't even really like book trailers--except for the occasional ones, like Alex's and the one featuring James Franco I placed on my blog a couple weeks ago. I prefer to see characters as my mind creates them, helped along by the author's words, not as a director might cast them.

    Michele
    Romanticism today at SouthernCityMysteries

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  28. I never would have guessed I'd take to ebooks the way I did once I discovered the reading experience on the iPhone (NEVER would have thought I'd enjoy reading on my phone), so I think this new direction is as likely as any other. And done correctly, it could really enhance a good book. Now I'm really looking forward to getting my iPad!

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  29. Hmmm...I'm not sure how I feel about this - is it a good thing or a bad thing? Today's generation is over-exposed to television, movies, video games...already. Books are one way to get kids away from all of that. I'll to think about it for a bit, I guess. Maybe I'm more old-fashioned than I thought. :-)

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  30. Michele, I fear it will contribute to kids not reading as much as they have in past years. Already, kids prefer movies and TV and online videos. Perhaps this form of books will draw kids back to the book, or this new version of the book.

    Belle, I have an iPhone, but can't imagine reading on that screen.

    I'm right there with you, Shannon.

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  31. All of the recent advances in publishing have boggled this old mind. LOL I thought I was really "with it" to get an e-book out and now this multi-media concept emerges. Wow. I think this will really appeal to younger readers, and probably some older ones. Hate to think we are all in the dark ages. But I don't think I am going to try to adapt a book to include video, unless my publisher starts moving in that direction.

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  32. Yes, I would be interested in doing all those things. Very interesting blog.
    Nancy
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

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  33. Maryann and Nancy, I would like to give such a multi-media book a try. You never know I just might like it.

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  34. Hmm...I could think of some ideas, but I'm not sure how they'd work! Cozies are usually quieter reads and I wonder how that would play into an ereader multi-media concept.

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  35. This information excites me on one hand, and on the other makes me want to say, "Stop, World, and let me off, you're spinning too fast!! LOL

    Best,

    Sylvia Dickey Smith

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  36. I like the added ability for images or maps but even tho the video idea sounds interesting, it kind of detracts from the idea of a book right? then you're not 'reading' anymore? Wouldn't it be too easy to not read then, esp. for kids? (A visual Cliff Notes is it?)

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  37. Interesting information, Helen. I think I would write one with that in mind.

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  38. Elizabeth, there could be back of the book resources, like recipes from the book, with a video of one or two.

    Historical Writer/Editor, I can definitely see extras with an historical book.

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  39. I'm a text person. That's why I love reading and why I love writing. I do enjoy movies and television but I still choose to read text because I find it more enjoyable. Yes, multimedia can enhance many things but I'm all for some stories remaining in a text based form without all the added extras (whether that text is printed or electronic).

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  40. At the risk of sounding like a Luddite, I don't see myself going for the multimedia experience, at least when reading fiction. For nonfiction, particularly how-twos, I can see it as useful. One of the reasons I read fiction it to stimulate my own imagination. I want to visualize the characters and settings they way I want them to be, in context with what is written. I don't want someone else's vision of what it should be taking precedence over my own.
    ~jon

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