Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Publishers don't get it -- An eBook should be more. . .

My 9 year old neighbor is a wired kid.  She loves computers and gadgets.  I got to wondering if she would have been more interested in The Daring Book for Girls if I had showed her the eBook edition on my Cybook.

Before suggesting it, however, I thought I would like to see what the eBook version was really like. I actually went to the store and bought it. 

After about five minutes, I came to the conclusion that it wouldn't have made one iota of difference.  Since the eBook version is no more compelling than the print version. 

All I could think was "What a waste!"

The Daring Book is basically an instruction manual. Unfortunately, the eBook version is a faithful rendition of the print version. 

The Mobipocket reader, which I was using, is a fairly sophisticated piece of eReader software.  When utilized fully it enhances the digital reading experience.  And yet, the publishers choose to create a flat, one dimensional product.  The eBook version has all the drawbacks of the paper edition and not one of the advantages of the digital experience.

Remember, this is a book specifically aimed at kids.  You know, those alien creatures around the house plugged into their phones, iPods, Gameboys and xBoxes. The ones that have been raised with computers, gadgets and multimedia. They know that life is a multimedia experience. 

And then there are books.  Books are a unimedia (print) or possibly a duamedia experience (print and graphic).  How can they possibly compete?

Guys, this is important:  An eBook is digital. 

The beauty of a digital book is that it has the capacity to be a multimedia experience that can compete.

Instead of line drawings of how to create a cootie catcher you can insert at the very least a link to a video.  Better yet, just insert a video clip.  It took me less than 5 seconds to find this YouTube piece. And you can't tell me that the creator of this video would not be happy to licence his creation to Harper Collins. 

Instead of just showing Spanish or French Terms of Endearment. Expressions and Other Items of Note you could easily attach a audio file that actually pronounces the words.  Who's to know that nuit is pronounced "knee we"?

Instead of listing thirty four living princesses, why not link to a picture of them?  And for those of you wondering where the hell Lesotho is -- add a map or a link to Google earth.

When you look at it dispassionately, you have to come to the conclusion that a unimedia experience is pretty bland.  Which makes me think that it is no wonder kids don't read.

Plain ole print is boring!

1 comment:

Marie said...

I agree, I have been searching for multimedia books for my young children. Can't find anything with picture book and audio/video. Plenty of audio books(no pictures) or picture books (no audio). In this day and age there should be something worked out with copyright re enabling them on the internet. For a truly amazing multimedia experience (would be great to have more) check out Rockford's rock opera (google it) or read my post at http://learningcurve.globalteacher.org.au/

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