What is an Enhanced Ebook Anyway?
I recently read the article on the digital book world website by David Wilk: Giving Up On Enhanced Ebooks Too Soon, and decided that this type of article was worthy of a blogpost on exactly what an enhanced Ebook might look like, especially in the world of reference publishing. I think Mr. Wilk makes some valid points that publishers are hesitant to invest in this latest innovation in publishing technology. I personally do not think that publishers will be shelving this formatting process, but it may take longer to become the norm rather than the exception.
In reference publishing the ability to incorporate video into the content would be an incredible boon for accelerating the learning process. Not only could students read a speech by Churchill or FDR or Jack Kennedy, they could also click on the URL or thumbnail inserted into the content that would allow them to see the actual speech verbatim. Also, video and news clips of historical events could be inserted as well and give the student a more accessible sensory experience to completely heighten the learning experience. For a very long time I have seen this as the wave of the future for Ebooks. Making the Ebook a multi-technical formatted content platform could have a wide-ranging impact on how well students learn material.
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Move Fish?
Another area that would be hugely impacted by the advent of enhanced Ebooks would be the children’s book area. If you can start producing electronic pop-up books where children can touch a character and an animated process would begin or make a character do certain movements, this modified touch-screen revolution would accelerate the learning process for those under five years old. This children’s book technical revolution would be a leader into the learning process for the modified enhanced Ebooks referenced above. Once children are comfortable with the process of touch-screen learning, this could be the foundation that will allow them to pick up information in a much faster and more reliable way. The main thing about touch-screen learning would be that the element of fun would still be apparent as the child grows into an older student. Any learning tool that can access more senses is pushing the envelope to a much broader and faster educational system.
If it sells, we will make it so…
The companies that produce the readers have not been moving in the direction of pushing E-books with enhanced features. This may be due to the fact that Amazon’s Kindle Fire could handle enhanced Ebooks, the Apple iPad would be an amazing platform for enhanced Ebooks, but Barnes &Noble and the Nook do not have a platform that would support enhanced Ebooks very well. As Mr. Wilk made clear in his article, Apple could lead the way in revolutionizing this technology that would fit well into an iPad environment. These companies are the distributors for the Ebooks that the publishers produce. If publishers started to produce a large volume of enhanced Ebooks the mindset might change with the device and distribution companies. As with anything when dealing with large companies there will not be an impetus to move forward in this direction until there is a recognizable profit and revenue generating reason to make sure that these Ebooks can be used on these devices.
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My prediction: It is only a matter of time before enhanced Ebooks become the norm. It only follows that the technology has surpassed the expectations of the mass consuming market. I leave you with this question: If we have electronic books in the marketplace why would we want them to be mirror images of the print product when technology can take them in so many other different directions?
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