Recent surveys have shown that children are reading more and engaging with digital devices.
They are true digital natives. But I'm 38 and while extremely comfortable with technology, I'm still part of the generation that was raised on print. I think our minds are trained to what we've always known so we can be resistant about the possibilities.
The enhanced e-book has been discussed for a while now, but hasn't gone mainstream, while at the same time apps have exploded. How can we shift into using multimedia in our books? In this guest post, Harry Guinness from Bawdy Zebra explores some options.
A book no longer has to be printable.
The very idea of what makes a book is beginning to change; are eBooks still “books”? What about eBooks that would never work as print books, say ones with hundreds of pictures? If they're still “books”, what happens if you start to include video? For years instructional books have come with companion DVDs, why not just include it in the text itself?
The technology is out there to begin creating books with more photographs than words, and even videos, slideshows and interactive web content like twitter streams.
Now not every book should begin including photos and videos – that would be ridiculous. For example, I have a soft spot for epic fantasy (I finished the last book of the Wheel of Time in a single seventeen hour sitting; if you know what that means, I'm judging you, as well as myself!), and not for a second do I think the inclusion of reams of photos or videos would add much to my enjoyment. Likewise, a lot of fiction really won’t benefit by adding such content directly into the text – but there are still options. Here are five points on why, or how you could begin to add multimedia content to your books.
1. It costs you practically nothing.
A few years ago if you said you were going to release a book with close to one hundred full-size colour photos for the price of Big Mac Meal you would have been laughed at. But that's what we did, it's just not printed on paper! The additional expense of adding photos in particular is minimal. The camera in your iPhone is more than capable to take stunning photos – especially of landscapes – so why not add a few.
2. It adds to the readers experience.
This is more of a non-fiction point, but if you are writing a biography or a travelogue or anything else really, it is the perfect opportunity to include photos and videos. Nothing adds more to the experience of a travel book as photos of the stunning vistas – except perhaps an interactive 360 degree panorama. If it's a biography, instead of just including a few pictures in the centre, litter the book with relevant photos, include videos of famous performances and speeches even!
3. Build it into the book.
I think there is a serious market for an enterprising mystery writer to write a book that builds photos and videos and audio segments into the story. I genuinely think that someone is going to have a huge hit on their hands with a book like that and if you want to have a shot and that, come, talk to me. I am interested in doing business with you!
4. Use it to make the readers see you.
In so many books, the author becomes a secondary consideration after the characters. I can't begin to list the number of books I've read where the authors name is forgotten as soon as I put it down while the characters live on in my head. Why not have it that instead of a written introduction, as soon as the reader opens your book they are treated to a video of you thanking them for buying it. Suddenly the author becomes significantly more memorable.
5. More and more people are reading on these devices, make use of them.
The number of tablets out there is going up and up and by extension, the number of people reading on them. These devices all have features that are not being utilized. Differentiate yourself from the competition and use them! Don't be left playing catch up in a few years.
If you want to see a simple example of whats beginning to be possible, please check out There Are Other Rivers by Alastair Humphreys, I worked with Alastair to create an unprintable version of his book! Go to www.ThereAreOtherRivers.com for more information.
What do you think about multimedia in books? Is it just for kids books or textbooks? How can it be used with fiction? Please do leave your thoughts or questions in the comments below.
Harry Guinness is the founder of Bawdy Zebra (http://bawdyzebra.com), a new multimedia publishing company; he worked with Alastair Humphreys (http://alastairhumphreys.com) to produce the best possible version of There Are Other Rivers available! You can get it for the iPad here (https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/there-are-other-rivers/id553864798) or in loads of other formats – including dead tree – here (http://thereareotherrivers.com).
Bawdy Zebra has a load more exciting content in the works and you can find out more on Harry's blog (http//:harryguinness.com/blog).
Top image: BigStockPhoto E-learning concept