Just when you thought you were beginning to understand what an e-book was, along comes “enhanced e-books.” These are e-book editions that are being “enriched” with multimedia content. These kinds of books (or whatever they are) were unavailable as long as there were only e-book reading devices like the Kindle that handled text only files. But now that we have the iPad and other multimedia tablet knockoffs on the way, the door is wide open for all sorts of “content enrichments.”
Publication of enhanced editions seems to have begun with the release of an enhanced version of Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth on July 20 of this year. It coincided with the television mini-series and includes content from that series. It has material about the characters in the show, an author interview, music from the 12th century, and behind the scenes material. The edition is available at the iPad store.
Not to be outdone, on July 29 Simon and Schuster issued an enhanced edition of Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland. Embedded in the text are news clips of the Nixon-Kennedy Debates, the death of Martin Luther King, and of course, all things Watergate.
Every major publisher seems to have joined the bandwagon and are making daily announcements of enhanced e-book editions.
It’s pretty hard to predict how this will play out by next month, let alone next year. But we can expect to see such enhancements as: cooking demonstrations in cookbooks, author interviews in reading book editions, film clips in history books (like Nixonland) and all sorts of ways of exploiting media spin-offs. I wonder whether psychological self-help books will have clips of the psychotherapist-author sitting at his leather chair and thoughtfully rubbing his chin while staring out at the reader and saying: ” Hmm. I see.”
The creative possibilities are infinite. Ask the Agent will let the reader decide whether this opens up a brave new world of literary enrichment or whether we will descend into a McCluhan-esque inferno. I’m a little concerned that I won’t be able to sit down and read the newest translation of Cervantes’ immortal Don Quixote, without having to listen to Andy Williams singing The Impossible Dream in the backround.
Tags: andy ross, ask the agent, book publishing, e-books, enhanced e-books, fiction, future of publishing, history, ipad, Ken Follett, literary agent, literature, nixonland, novels, pillars of the earth, Rick Perlstein, writing