Enhanced Ebooks

Telltale Games Lays Off Majority Of Staff, Begins Process Of Shutting Down

26 September 2018

From CinemaBlend:

Over the last six years there has been a huge resurgence in story-based point-and-click games all thanks to Telltale Games. The company got eyes with the return of Sam & Max but it turned heads with the first season of The Walking Dead. The follow-up of The Wolf Among Us kept fans hanging on for more content from Telltale Games, and with successes like Batman: The Enemy Within, many thought that the company was going to be making headway toward bigger and better things, but alas it was not meant to be. After swapping out the CEO, restructuring the entire studio and culling a lot of properties from the line-up, things still didn’t turn around for Telltale, and now the company is shutting down.

Telltale Games


Over on the official Telltale Twitter account, the company announced that it was letting go of all its staff, save for 25 employees who will stay on to finish work on open projects. _US Gamer is reporting that everyone who was let go from the studio did so without severance pay. As for _The Talking Dead: The Final Season, the second episode is due to drop on September 28th, with the remaining episodes scheduled to arrive before 2018 wraps up. However Variety is reporting that it’s “uncertain” if the remaining episodes will release as scheduled.

. . . .

Additionally, there’s no guarantee that Telltale will shut down indefinitely. It could be one of those situations where the studio is looking for an angel investor or another buyer who will pick up the intellectual properties currently under the company’s developmental deal with the rights holders. This could be a reason why Telltale signed on with Netflix earlier in the year even though the company was in dire straits. Sometimes having valuable IP under the belt helps improve the overall valuation of the company and makes it look worthwhile for potential buyers.

Of course, this is all assuming that Telltale won’t just file for bankruptcy and sell off all of its remaining properties in the process.

This all comes after a studio restructuring last year in 2017, in which Telltale laid off 25% of its staff during a restructuring.

Link to the rest at CinemaBlend and thanks to Felix, who says Telltale’s “generally acclaimed games were everything tradpub dreams to turn interactive ebooks into” for the tip.

I Tried All the Scary Stories Apps and Found the Best 7

31 July 2018

From Book Riot:

If you live, eat, and breathe horror like I do, then the thought of carrying scary stories with you everywhere you go probably sounds like a dream (or nightmare) come true. Thankfully, with the advent of smartphones, that nightmare has become a reality. New scary stories apps are popping up all the time. Search the app store for scary stories right now, and you might be overwhelmed with the options.

So, horror fiends, I have done the dirty work for you and screened a bunch of scary stories apps so I could bring you the best.

. . . .

2. Cliffhanger

I like apps like Cliffhanger because these are text message-based stories that include a Choose Your Own Adventure element to them. I’m never exactly sure how much of an effect my choices have in games like these (that would involve playing them over again and I just don’t have the patience for that at the moment when I have 5,000 other scary stories apps to get through). But at the very least, the illusion of choice makes me feel more invested in the story and more involved in the scary stuff happening on my screen. And the more you feel like you’re a part of the story, the scarier that story feels.

3. CreepyPasta

If you’re into scary stories and you haven’t discovered the world of Creepy Pasta yet, then I don’t know where you’ve been but it’s time to get on board. Creepy Pasta has permeated every part of internet culture. My husband thinks it’s a little weird that I listen to Creepy Pasta stories at night to fall asleep, but it’s a thing and it’s called “Sleepy Pasta,” so I’m not the only one who’s into it. There are podcasts, YouTube channels, and of course wiki pages dedicated to Creepy Pasta stories, so it should come as no surprise that there is a Creepy Pasta app too. This app is very well organized and easy to navigate. I love how you can save stories to your favorites and mark them as read. Maybe one day I’ll make it through all of them?

Link to the rest at Book Riot

Bring on the browser books

2 August 2017

From The Bookseller:

I’d like to start this month’s editor’s musings with a personal rising-from-the-ashes anecdote.

One of the other jobs I juggle alongside my role at FutureBook involves being Digital Editor for PHOENIX, a six-year-old fashion and culture magazine. At the core of PHOENIX is a bi-annual print magazine: 200-odd pages of long-form journalism on high quality paper with really nice smelling ink.

It’s essentially a mini book.

Ever since PHOENIX began, we’ve continually questioned what – if any – sort of digital presence the mag should have. How could we use digital to enhance, but not replicate, our physical hero product? How could we use digital to pull in new readers, whilst ensuring they converted to print sales? How could we create digital content of the same quality we’re known for in print – but with a tiny team on an even smaller budget?

Yep – essentially the same questions that preoccupy the big-book trade.

Two years ago, we thought we’d come up with the answer. We launched PHOENIX’s monthly counterpart, The Manual: a digital-only, custom-created magazine cradled within a bespoke app. It was interactive. It was beautiful. It was timely.

It was a huge mistake.

Why? It seemed like such a brilliant idea at the time. But we soon came to realise that, while apps are great for functional services such as Uber or banks, they’re pretty useless when it comes to publishing.

From a reader’s point of view, downloading an app is a surprisingly big barrier to entry. Not only do you have to wait a few seconds to install the app and another few seconds every time you want to download each new issue, you have to reproduce the whole process every time you want to read on a different device. And, if you want to launch an external link, its’a clumsy process that takes you outside the app – and out of your closed story-garden into a wilderness of distractions.

From a publisher’s point of view, producing and distributing content via an app is a total pain – from creating complex InDesign files to working with frustrating external shopfronts such as the Apple Store. And it’s useless for SEO.

. . . .

Last week, Simon Rowberry wrote us a very popular – and polarising – piece called ‘Is the e-book a dead format?’ In it, he explained the growing interest around Portable Web Publications (PWP), “a self-described vision for the future of digital publishing based on a fully native representation of documents within the Open Web Platform.” His cautionary note – ” how will books cope in the complex attention economy of web browsing?” – is worth listening to.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

A Case for Multimedia Storytelling

25 June 2017

From Publishers Weekly:

Interactive multimedia storytelling is probably older than recorded human history itself. The famous cave paintings of Lascaux, for example, date from about 17,000 years ago. While we do not know their exact purpose, one can easily imagine a narrator or shaman using them to describe a successful hunt or enact a ritual. Holding a torch, the narrator walks along the walls, recounting a sequence of events, in a kind of early form of cinema.

. . . .

Today, we have interactive digital narratives, also known as video games. This relatively new form of interactive media has evolved into a mature form for the presentation of narrative, and may well represent a possible future for storytelling.

Why should this be interesting or relevant to book publishers? Because it is worth knowing what readers are into these days. According to a 2015 Pew internet study, about half of all American adults play video games: 50% of men and 48% of women play them, and about 10% consider themselves to be gamers. Mary Meeker’s highly regarded “Internet Trends 2017” report describes video games as more engaging than popular forms of social media such as Facebook and Instagram, driving an increase in deep engagement in “an era of perceived disengagement.”

. . . .

The first thing to know is that digital interactive storytelling has matured in recent years. The depth and quality of the writing and emotional experience in some games rivals the best literary narratives—and some are even drawn from them. The international hit Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, for example, is based on a series of novels by Polish novelist Adrzej Sapkowski, adapted for the game medium by developer CD Projekt Red’s Jakub Szamalek.

Second, despite book publishers’ fears that mobile apps are a form of digital distraction, taking readers away from books, interactive digital media can actually drive readers toward text-based storytelling. Twine, for example, bridges the gap between interactive fiction and gaming; it’s an open-source software tool that allows users without programming expertise to create and publish interactive stories. Twine has become so popular that it has begun to be noticed by book publishers. In many ways, it is the digital offspring of the popular Choose Your Own Adventure book series.

Because Twine is free and does not require coding skills, it has become a platform for writers who want to try their hands at interactive fiction. Many Twine games are composed entirely of text. Some are also visual, but in many cases, a branching narrative composed of text is the final published product. As this shows, gamers are open to and interested in text stories.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

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

In Pursuit of an Affordable Tablet for the Blind

19 January 2016

From MIT Technology Review:

An inexpensive, full-page Braille tablet could make topics like science and math more easily accessible to the blind, according to a team of researchers who have built a prototype device.

The device, which is under development at the University of Michigan, uses liquid or air to fill tiny bubbles, which then pop up and create the blocks of raised dots that make up Braille. Each bubble has what is essentially a logic gate that opens or remains closed to control the flow of liquid after each command.

. . . .

Existing refreshable Braille displays tend to max out at one line of text and cost several thousand dollars. They use plastic pins pushed up and down by a motor. The Michigan team found it impossible to pack the pins in densely enough to create a reasonably sized full-page display, and as a result started from scratch with the microfluidic option. The switch could help them make the final product tablet-sized instead of laptop-sized, like existing refreshable displays.

. . . .

“My observation is that, currently, even many of us who read Braille well find reading it with single-line Braille displays slower and more tiring than using text-to-speech or audio materials,” says Chris Danielsen, a spokesperson for the National Federation of the Blind. “I think this would dramatically change with a larger display, especially one at a reasonable price point.”

. . . .

“Anything where you want to be able to see stuff written down, like coding or music or even just mathematics, you really have to work in Braille,” says O’Modhrain, who is visually impaired. “That just means for a lot of people these things are not accessible or not available.”

Link to the rest at MIT Technology Review


Wally Lamb’s Latest Novel to Be Released Exclusively as Book App

6 December 2015

From The New York Times:

In 1992, two debut novelists gave a joint reading at a Manhattan bookstore. One of them was Ken Siman, whose novel, “Pizza Face,” sold decently, but was hardly a blockbuster. He eventually went on to pursue a career in publishing.

The other novelist was Wally Lamb. His first novel, “She’s Come Undone,” was selected for Oprah Winfrey’s book club, and went on to sell more than three million copies.

Nearly 25 years later, the two have reunited to collaborate on Mr. Lamb’s sixth novel, “I’ll Take You There,” which is being released next year exclusively as a digital app by Metabook, a new e-book publishing company for which Mr. Siman is the co-founder and publisher.

. . . .

There are obvious downsides to releasing a book exclusively as an app. “I’ll Take You There” won’t be available in bookstores or even from e-book retailers like Amazon or Barnes & Noble when it comes out next spring. Instead, Mr. Lamb’s fans will have to buy it from the iTunes app store, and it will work only on Apple devices.

Mr. Lamb said that as a music and film lover, he was excited by the prospect of enhancing a narrative with music, film clips and video.

“I’m thinking to myself, wow, this is really cool, it’s something a little bit different,” he said.

. . . .

Interactive children’s books have become another booming genre, with everything from Dr. Seuss to an app based on Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson & The Olympians series. But when it came to adult fiction, interactive bells and whistles often seemed like noisy distractions that pulled users out of the immersive experience of reading a story.

That attitude is slowly starting to change. Some writers have created apps that allow readers to play a role in the plot or become a character. Others have developed apps that deliver tailored content depending on the reader’s geographic location.

Link to the rest at The New York Times and thanks to Andy for the tip.

World’s first braille smartwatch is an ebook reader and more

4 August 2015

From Engadget:

On the surface, Dot sounds like a fairly standard smartwatch: It resembles a Fitbit and features a messaging system, navigation functions, Bluetooth 4.0, an alarm and, of course, a timepiece. Dot is remarkable because it’s a braille smartwatch — the world’s first braille smartwatch, in fact. Its face features a series of dull pins that rise and fall at customizable speeds, spelling out words in braille as the user places a finger on top. With this system, Dot allows users to read ebooks without throwing down thousands of dollars for a portable braille reader. The watch should hit the market for less than $300, with pre-orders staring this year. Plus, Dot has an active battery life of 10 hours, according to inhabitat, so get ready for some serious reading time.

. . . .

“90 percent of blind people become blind after birth, and there’s nothing for them right now — they lose their access to information so suddenly,” Dot co-founder and CEO Eric Ju Yoon Kim tells Tech in Asia. “Dot can be their lifeline, so they can learn Braille and access everyday information through their fingers, which is the goal of Braille literacy.”

Link to the rest at Engadget and thanks to Nirmala for the tip.

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