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Do We Really Need to Innovate the Reading Experience?

8 November 2016

From Digital Book World:

Reading a book used to be considered a fairly straightforward experience.

You opened the book (it was a print book) and you started reading.

Today we have ebooks and audiobooks, which, to varying degrees, have changed our reading experiences. With an ebook, we can read that same print book on our phones, on our computers, on our tablets or on our e-reader devices. And with digital audiobooks, we can now listen on our phones to someone else read the text from that print book.

I hear a lot of talk about how ebooks didn’t innovate enough, or how ebooks are unsatisfactory—that they’re stuck in this “print-under-glass” model that offers nothing new to the reading experience.

I also hear about companies, both within and outside of traditional publishing, that are trying to change the reading experience, be it through new platforms or apps that bring in other forms of media or break a book down into smaller segments.

Maybe I’m a bit naive, but my question is, why?

. . . .

Are print books and ebooks no longer effective? Do some people believe they are somehow antiquated?

. . . .

To that end, what is so wrong with the print-under-glass model of ebooks? What else were we expecting? To my eyes, an ebook on my Kindle looks a lot like a print book in my hands. And that’s exactly how I want it to be.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

Ebooks, Enhanced Ebooks

7 Comments to “Do We Really Need to Innovate the Reading Experience?”

  1. Title be a question, so no.

    The only ones trying to ‘innovate’ reading are the ones that can’t get readers to read their stuff, either it’s not worth reading or it’s priced too high for readers to bother with.

    This is just the old gatekeepers and their friends trying to find more hoops/gates to force indies and self publishers back under control of the big publishers.

    To read all you need is a little time that you don’t have to give full attention to anything else and a good story to take you away from the here and now.

  2. ‘Enhanced ebook’ is a code phrase meaning, ‘I desperately want to get rich by inventing something, but don’t have any actual ideas for something that hasn’t been invented yet.’

  3. I’m interested in “innovating the reading experience” for children at the moment they begin to read. Toward that end I’ve been experimenting with a new ebook format (not an “enhanced book” in the digital technology sense).

    I’ve written a sampler of 7 experimental ebooks in the new format and a short writer’s craft book on the subject. More info here: http://www.sagemerriman.com/2016/10/the-pictureless-picturebook-manifesto.html

    • I can see room for something better for ‘print under glass’ for very small children, combine the audio and print books so that the word being spoken is highlighted.

      But this is a reader training thing.

      Similarly, an app that can scroll an e-book by at a predictable rate can be a huge help in increasing your reading speed.

      We already have hyperlinks, but they need to remain optional things that can be used if the reader wants to dive down a rabbit hole or doesn’t understand something, not distractions to pull the person out of the story (links work well for non-fiction cross referencing, in fiction only the more complex universes should have them, and only to expand on something already in the text)

  4. To that end, what is so wrong with the print-under-glass model of ebooks?

    Nothing is wrong with it. Nor is there anything wrong with innovating and developing a different product that appeals to a subset of consumers.

  5. Just saw an ad for this today: http://www.experienceanomaly.com/between-worlds/demo

    Looks pretty neat and all, but every time I see something like this I think they might as well have used all that app-development time to just build an actual video game.

    Maybe a “killer app” augmented ebook will come along someday, but so far it just feels like these are gimmicks trying to either encourage kids to read by offering a shiny carrot on a stick, or trying to prop up a mediocre book with more “features”.

  6. Uh, just what’s to “innovate” here? I’ve always read one word after another. One sentence after another. One paragraph after another. Til I reach the end of the book. Works for me.

    (Yeah, I’ve taken the speed reading courses that teach how to skim rapidly. Sorta OK for non-fiction needing to be read under a deadline. But no fun for fiction or any book I want to enjoy reading.

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