Thursday, October 01, 2009

Read any good 'vooks' lately?

In The New York Times, Motoko Rich looks at hybrid books and videos for release on mobile phones and electronic readers.
Simon & Schuster, the publisher of Ernest Hemingway and Stephen King, is working with a multimedia partner to release four “vooks,” which intersperse videos throughout electronic text that can be read — and viewed — online or on an iPhone or iPod Touch.

And in early September Anthony E. Zuiker, creator of the television series “CSI,” released “Level 26: Dark Origins,” a novel — published on paper, as an e-book and in an audio version — in which readers are invited to log on to a Web site to watch brief videos that flesh out the plot.

Some publishers say this kind of multimedia hybrid is necessary to lure modern readers who crave something different. But reading experts question whether fiddling with the parameters of books ultimately degrades the act of reading.

1 comment:

  1. Since the ways we experience these two forms are so different, it seems likely that they're going to end up with something that doesn't work very well as either a video or as a novel.

    Also, if I'm reading something and then I decide I'd rather watch a video, I can do that already at the touch of a button. Simon & Schuster's model of a single package belongs to an earlier era, and in fact is drearily similar to all the talk of multimedia books in the '90s.

    That's not to say that ebooks aren't going to be big in future, but maybe publishers shouldn't be so quick to assume that people no longer have the attention span needed to get absorbed in a good story.

    A more interesting hybrid might be partly animated graphic novels, or "motion comics", which are pretty easy to do on platforms like the iPhone. Most people don't understand the visual grammar of graphic novels, and a little animation (and the convenience of direct delivery to your phone) could help to make some great content accessible to a wider audience.


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