When eBooks emerged into the publishing world, it expanded the possibilities that could be done with books. Publishers now have an opportunity to give readers an experience that goes further than reading, they can interact with the content. Now, with ePUB3, it can easily be done; eBooks can include audio and videos. Interacting with the book can benefit those in the education market, children’s books, or consumers that want more than just reading.
This video demonstration of Our Choice done by software developer Mike Matas is a great example of what can be done with interactive eBooks:
Digital editions of books can be used for educational purposes. Teachers and professors can use these editions to help their students have a better understanding of the text. Publishers of educational books can offer an e-edition of their textbooks along with the purchase of the print edition. In math or science, students can interact with formulas, or get a better understanding of science with interactive quizzes or being more hands-on with the information:
“Richard Dawkins’ The Magic of Reality, where you interact with the storyline through interactive demonstrations and games that allow you to get hands-on with the science discussed in the book…letting you simulate the effects of heat, pressure, and gravity on different states of matter.”
With literature, the e-edition can give readers embedded annotations, more context of the content, or videos to go along with plays. Norton is a great example of what can be done with an e-edition. With the purchase of Norton’s 3rd print edition of Shakespeare, the reader also receives a Digital Product License to have access to the digital copy. Students are given a better understanding of what they’re reading. Norton’s e-edition can also be used for theatre students:
“Performance Comments highlight how a director or actor’s choices in performance affect meaning, while Textual Comments focus on the impact of textual-editing decisions. Students can also listen to recordings of all of the songs in the plays and over 8 hours of specially recorded spoken-word audio by the highly regarded Actors from the London Stage.”
If Norton’s doing this with Shakespeare, it can also be done with other classic texts students are reading in school and have a hard time understanding the content.
Interactive eBooks can also be used for children’s books. Kids can play games that will keep the story flowing, online colouring book stories, or make the kid an author and have them create the story. Interactive eBooks could also include animations, where the kid can watch the story come to life as they read it. There are many possibilities that can be done with interactive eBooks. They can also be used for more than just leisurely texts, like for practical texts as well:
“…interactive travel guides that utilize the device GPS capabilities, cookbooks with built-in timers and video recipes…”
With so many different ways of using eBooks, why aren’t they being taken advantage of? Are interactive eBooks the best direction for digital publishing? Will there be enough demand for publishers to put time, effort, and money into them? Or will interactive eBooks just be too distracting to the reader, that they won’t even read the text?