Are Enhanced E-books Actually “Readable”?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka

Today’s lead story looks at the popularity of enhanced e-books in Germany.

Much of the real potential for e-books, so the pundits believe, lies in their potential for delivering multimedia options to readers. Some call this the “enhanced” e-book, one that comes with “extras” like you might find on a DVD. This could include additional chapters, interviews with the author, background material, video features, online interactivity and other sundries. The idea is that you can “read, watch, and listen to an e-book at the the same time,” in the parlance of Penguin’s marketing materials in support of their “amplified” e-books, which have included classics and backlist bestsellers, such as Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth, which featured 88 video excerpts that were released in conjunction with the US screening of a made-for-TV adaptation of the book. It comes in, by the way, at nearly two gigabytes in size -– meaning it’s likely to eat up a significant chunk of your video-enabled e-reader’s memory.

The question is, with your reading experience “enhanced” with video, Web pop-ups and other interactions, is the enhanced e-book actually “readable?” Or do we need another way of describing the experience? “Interactive” strikes me a wrong, since the technological enhancements are largely pushed at you — it’s a one way transaction. How should we describe the experience?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

Edward Nawotka is the Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. A former foreign correspondent, he has covered the book business since 2000, serving as daily news editor for Publishers Weekly and columnist for Bloomberg News.