Update on Prior Blog re DOJ: Three of the five publishers investigated by the DOJ have settled, you can find more information at: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/11/justice-files-suit-against-apple-and-publishers-over-e-book-pricing/?emc=eta1
A recent survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project at the Pew Research Center, 21% of Americans have read an E-book and those who read e-books tend to read even more. The ownership of e-reader increased, and this was before the last holiday where every store seemed focused on selling selling selling all kinds of e-readers and accessories.
I think I may have mentioned before that a friend of mine who teaches New Media has told me that there is a prediction that in ten years all books will be electronic, not just because of reader preference but also due to green issues and policy pressures. As a former librarian, a once lonely child that roamed the Tallahassee Public Library after school every day to escape into fiction worlds, and just old enough to have too many books in every corner of the house, that makes me sad. As a GEEK, I can get it. And for areas where space is an issue, cultures that don’t have the luxury capacity for storage of a gazillion books, perhaps this is the trend.
But whatever the future holds, e-books are here in many forms, and the one that has my attention is the ‘enhanced e-book’. I saw this in an email that came from one of my feeds, and first though it was a spam, you know, one of those enhance your special body parts… but no, this was about the trend that goes up and down to make e-books “more”.
More in what? Add to the writing almost anything you can think of beyond the words on the screen: music, questions for the reader to ponder while or after reading the book, author interviews, and wait, there’s more! Some books, notably children’s (including the recent Oscar winner APP books _________) are mini films, or you can have interactive books where the reader can surf the book and change characters, settings, even outcomes.
Most comments on this form of book vary from the “oh wow gee whiz” factor to the “naw, it doesn’t really work”. One word: OSCAR. Maybe it is something more for children who still remember their other sense. Or teens who love to multitask with headphones, cell phones, internet and e-book going all at once. But for adults? Some say no way, not going to happen. Or maybe the right hook just hasn’t appeared on the screen yet?
One thing is crucial, if you are planning to develop anything along this line, using an APP of some sort for the Apple products or through the Android platform, you need to make sure that the work is free to use. In other words, who owns the copyright? If it is music, and it is not public domain or you created it yourself and it is your copyrighted work, then you’ll need to get a license for it. If you are using artwork, be sure to get the owner’s consent or license. You will have to sign agreements with the platform you use. Apple’s licensing agreements are strict, unilaterally in their favor and mostly non-negotiable. Just the way it is. They do clear whatever goes in as an app on their systems, and you can work with services that are now available for a fee to create your product. Other platforms are not quite as formulaic and may have less strident licensing terms.
Do I think enhanced e-books could work for teens? Yes. Where I think it could be a real gain is with the ever needed ‘boy’ reader. So many are into gaming, role-playing, sports. Would there be a way to take that interest and transcend it into an e-book that gets them to also read? Works for me. And who’s to say it is just fiction for teens? Non-fiction would have some great potentials as well.
Many publishing houses are experimenting with these forms, baby steps but steps nonetheless. Some start up companies have tried and failed, but is that a function of the market, economy or because they were start ups? The survey that started this blog indicates the e-book market is alive, thriving and growing. What is going to be majorly geeky fun is to watch all the exploration. Imagination in a new technology is imagination, and if it brings readers to books, I’m all for it. Then again, I’m a bit of a geek!
(Survey found at: http://libraries.pewinternet.