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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Looks like the future of eBooks will include some interactive aspects. My guess is that the Kindle would be about a year away from supporting "enhanced eBooks." Could really be an interesting new ways to tell stories. Hopefully, they'll create a consumer version of these enhanced ebook creation apps for use by indie writers.

http://www.hughsnews.ca/cinram-takes-e-publishing-plunge-0022558

TORONTO, May 24, 2011 - In the next chapter of its digital initiative, Cinram International, Inc. announced today its official launch into e-publishing and enhanced book app development. Partnering with major content owners and publishers to develop interactive book products, the company will leverage the proven track record of 1K Studios, part of Cinram Digital Media, to create rich interactive experiences in fiction, non-fiction and educational content.
 

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Frankly, we've had those capabilities for decades. (It's called "games" and "hypertext.")

I think it's the next thing for big publishing, but it's irrelevant to books. It's just that books will be better produced by smaller companies and indie writers. Big publishing needs something which is harder for uncapitalized individuals to do -- and thus enhanced ebooks (i.e. games) cut out the competition.

So, IMHO, that's another (albeit related) business for big publishing to get into.

Camille
 

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I use hyperlinks in quite a few of my short stories to take the reader to the articles that sparked the ideas for the stories and to add to the reading experience by adding some truth to what is a fictional story. The interactive they are talking about is more like games and these applications will suit educational books for children to maintain the child's interest.

I use them in
Where there's a will, there's a war
Careful what you wish
The Enemy within.
I'm just about to add one to The End or a New Dawn.
 

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I worked on interactive books in the 1990s for Philips Media, on the CD-i platform.

From my experience, enhanced books could do well with children's books, but for adult novels the cost will outweigh the benefits.

I foresee a lot of companies raising investment capital on the promise of a new age of enhanced books—then going bankrupt within two or three years.

This, too, shall pass.

David
 

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I fear the enhanced e-Book, therefore I must prepare for it!

daringnovelist said:
I think it's the next thing for big publishing, but it's irrelevant to books. It's just that books will be better produced by smaller companies and indie writers. Big publishing needs something which is harder for uncapitalized individuals to do -- and thus enhanced ebooks (i.e. games) cut out the competition.

Camille
^^^ I agree!
 

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I really don't see the "supplemental content etc" really working that well in a novel at all.  Maybe for a self-help or reference or childrens book there are possibilities, but all this will just add to the cost of the enhanced book.  They will just become a hybrid book like the illustrated or large print book versions.
 

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I agree. For children's books it could work well, but I think a lot of people could find too much of it annoying. When someone sits down to read a good book in a comfortable chair, I'm pretty sure that's all they want to do. I think people get very tired of the constant and omnipresent distractions when online (I know I do), so that could actually be a negative.

Though I think Declan's idea of adding hyperlinks to things that can shed light on various aspects of the book and its origins is a good one. Last page stuff, though, in my opinion.
 

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C'mon guys--read Konrath! There's a lot more to enhanced ebooks than adding video or animation or whatever. When talkies came out in 1927, everyone thought it would do nothing more than add a bunch of dialogue that was not important to telling the visual story. But there is a story told in sound, too, as some of the best motion pictures in the years after the advent of talkies demonstrated. In order to understand where this is headed, don't look to the technologies, look instead to the possibilities, and things that people desire. As Konrath said, the enhancements will address "what readers enjoy doing with book, above and beyond reading it". The enhancements will not be hamstrung by our current, very limited understanding of current uses for enhancement technology. Konrath points to aggregated content as a prime example of the direction ebooks may be headed. Basically, GoodReads or its equivalent and lots of other similar features may soon be considered essential portals within a book.

Here's the article:

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/05/tech-talk-and-active-ebook.html
 

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Interesting article because of what wasn't said in it. When I worked in children's entertainment, Cinram did our DVD runs. That was a big chunk of their business. They've probably seen the writing on the wall about where DVDs are going/have gone, and are desperate to diversify away from that.

I think enhanced will work well for kid's books and certain kinds of non-fiction. And it won't be just for the big publishers, that's for sure. Anyone can learn Objective C...
 

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My wife and I were discussing the idea of enhanced books becoming a reality. I think it will mainly be in the extras, like having maps or graphics of various things described (how is an M1 different from an M4, here's a photo and description). I don't know that the traditional novel will have character animations or the like as much as say childrens, YA and graphic novels. Half the fun of adult books is imagining the characters and world described rather than having Tom Cruise try to be Jack Reacher.

Also I have to disagree with Declan. Bibliographies and "interesting" materials just aren't interesting. Having links to them is like the director's commentary on the DVD: no-one actually listens to it unless they are a film nerd. This stuff would be better to have as a blog post or interview  or something. As a science geek, seeing a "information resource" listed just makes me shiver. First, this is fiction. Second, usually the resources are rubbish. I remember seeing the author of the movie 2012 (John Cusack: WHY!?) being interviewed about how all his research and how his story was factually correct. Right. Just like the great, ....., great grand niece of Jesus is being protected by a secret society of Templar Knights who have left ingenious riddles to find the truth.
 

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Pearson Moore said:
C'mon guys--read Konrath! There's a lot more to enhanced ebooks than adding video or animation or whatever. When talkies came out in 1927, everyone thought it would do nothing more than add a bunch of dialogue that was not important to telling the visual story. But there is a story told in sound, too, as some of the best motion pictures in the years after the advent of talkies demonstrated. In order to understand where this is headed, don't look to the technologies, look instead to the possibilities, and things that people desire. As Konrath said, the enhancements will address "what readers enjoy doing with book, above and beyond reading it". The enhancements will not be hamstrung by our current, very limited understanding of current uses for enhancement technology. Konrath points to aggregated content as a prime example of the direction ebooks may be headed. Basically, GoodReads or its equivalent and lots of other similar features may soon be considered essential portals within a book.

Here's the article:

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/05/tech-talk-and-active-ebook.html
Pearson, thanks for the link and I think it's a fascinating idea. Personally, I have trouble seeing how an author can find the time to do all the things Konrad describes (from the author explaining why he/she wrote each scene, to organising the chats and forums and even skype conferences) - but hey, that's me and there are other authors who have time and energy for this.
And I do believe this or something similar will happen. It's sort of inevitable. :)
 

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Enhanced ebooks will be great for kids books and textbooks.  For novels, enhancements will be an effective way of pulling the reader out of the reader experience, or could be as well served by a hyperlink to the author's website.
 

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Hmm.

This is not to say there isn't a place for this, or that it can't add anything, but...

What happens to your film rights if you include animation or video or whatever? How is that incorporated?

While I'm having a hard time figuring out how jumping back and forth between video, audio, and text will enhance the experience (they involve different cognitive processes! There is a tax for that; it's not fun), I'm willing to stipulate that someone out there will figure it out for a certain type of story. But these are all totally different skill sets, and they all require years to master in their own right. Badly produced video is painful. Ditto audio. So as others have said, either this is something only big companies will specialize in, or we'll get a bunch of smaller shops peddling inferior product, or both.

Ick. I'm imagining this, and it's icky.

I can see producing related vignettes or shorts in other forms of media, so not as something you have to do to experience the story, but as an extra. And games, too. All of those bells and whistles that will be used as a justification for higher prices. I think for the most part, though, they won't be well executed, because as I said, those are not really things you can do half way. Video games (along with other forms of media) have, to a large extent, replaced movies (at the height of the movie industry, everyone in the country was going once a week), but it hasn't been cheap, fly by night video games. It's been games that have taken years and millions upon millions of dollars to produce.

It will take a long time before anyone's able to produce anything that will look and feel good enough to compete with the quality of a well written story, or even a well produced film or video game. The Frankenstein version won't compete for a while, especially since it will be much, much more expensive.
 

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Yeah, it's an idea... I can't say good or bad, but it's an idea.  As indies, we should listen and mentally prepare in the back of our minds... but for God's sake, whatever happened to words??? I don't need interactive stuff when I'm reading - I want WORDS.  Let my mind do the rest... or better yet, if the author has done their job, they don't need extras.  I don't want to see what the author thinks the main character looks like... I want the author to describe the character and let the character act in such a way that I, the reader, make up my own vision of it all.

Sure, for kid stuff, it would be cool, but I'll agree with the comment posted here... let kids just read.  Words and "paper". 

Now, on the other side of that... if I could enhance my ebook by putting in my book trailers, a personal video of myself thanking you for buying the book, and full access to my site, etc. - then yeah, that's kind of cool.  If we're talking "extras" outside the text of the book, I'm in for the most part.  It would be cool to see a book traielr before you start reading, that kind of thing.

BUT if I'm reading and go from page 32 to page 33 and it's an animated character telling me something, I'll cringe.

I just want to read.  ;)


-jb 8)
 

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We have some enhanced kids' books, and they are a hoot. Even then, however, we often turn off or ignore the features and just read the story. I admit this more because Mommy and Daddy are sick and tired of tickling Kitten's Toes fifty times in a row to hear the bell jingle. Just sayin'.
 

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We've been able to 'enhance' prose fiction for years by putting pictures into books, putting in diagrams, cutting holes in the pages (BS Johnson), playing around with text layout, adding author interviews or bookclub notes etc. etc.

And we've realised, with a few honorable exceptions, that one of these things actually do enhance the enjoyoment of reading a good, well-written book.
 

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Let me be a contrarian here (what else is new?) and declare that an "enhanced ebook" is going to be a dud for many fiction readers. Not nonfiction, but fiction.

Why? Because having a bunch of links will BREAK THE SPELL OF THE STORY. It's not much different if your book is loaded with typos and formatting problem: You're creating distractions that pull the reader outside of the fantasy "world" you've created, and back into the realization that "I'm reading a book."

As a novelist, that is exactly what I do NOT want to do to the reader. I want to keep him glued right into the story, into the illusion that he's living the events I've created, and turning pages without any distractions or diversions. One of the biggest, most consistent comments I'm getting from readers of my thriller, including Amazon reviewers, is that they simply could not put it down, couldn't stop reading. Well, they certainly could if I have links and other distractions in the text.

The only way this could work well with fiction is to have a "button" that allowed the reader to switch to "enhanced" if he wished. THEN he could be directed to background material, additional resources, character backstories, etc. But I think most readers will continue to want the experience of a "clean," written story into which they can "lose" themselves for a few hours. If they don't, then they should go off and play a video game or watch a movie. That's an entirely different form of entertainment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
After thinking about enhanced eBooks for a couple of days, I think that enhanced eBooks will not replace the pure novel but will  be another form of entertainment. It's kinda like movies which now come out in theaters in a conventional and a 3-D format. I think the enhanced eBook will make the big publishers more relevant since they will be better able to produce eBooks. However, many readers will always prefer the written word.

 
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