Hard to believe Amazon introduced the Kindle, the first e-reading device, in November of 2007. It’s less than 4 years old. In human terms, it won’t be entering kindergarten until next fall. By then, chances are most kindergarteners will have seen an interactive ebook. (There are already sites dedicated to the subject – http://interactive-ebooks.blogspot.com/.)
E-publishing is changing the industry on what appears to be a monthly basis. The latest phase is interactive ebooks ushered in by the tablet; Apple’s iPad, Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color, tablets by Motorola, Samsung, Dell, HP, and so many more will compete with each other in this arena and Amazon’s soon to be released Coyote and Hollywood (shh, it’s a secret).
What’s the benefit to interactive ebooks? Probably easiest to see it with children’s books. Interactive learning for the A-B-C’s, counting numbers, even things like geography and vocabulary can be much more effective with video and audio to accompany the lesson. Plus the advances go beyond education. What fun for any reader when characters can be made either male of female with avatar features like hair and skin color options, height and weight, favorite activities, clothing, accessories, etc, can instantly be added to personalize the people in any story. Or a reader can actually upload her/his own photo and become the protagonist or antagonist of the story along with making decisions of how the plot plays out.
Beyond children’s books, imagine the effect on readers when sound effects are heard at just the right moment, like a woman’s scream or machine gun fire or the sound of a crowd cheering the game-winning play. Video’s can be inserted as well, whether they accompany the text or as a comment/interview with the author, the characters and more.
Alternative endings can happen too. Reminds me of movies like Clue and Wayne’s World, where they dabble with a few different endings. Reader, where would you like to go from here? You can decide a happy ending or a tragic one, and these other possibilities abound…
Some of this involves small additions for the author to consider, like integrated apps for avatars/audio/video inserts, while other aspects involve larger ones, like alternative plot twists. It all creates incredible possibilities for story telling and the reader experience becoming more personal. Makes me wonder if the gap between big publishers and Indie authors will widen or narrow based on this new paradigm. Will Indies be able to keep up with big money to develop new apps for interactive ebooks, or will Indies come up with outstanding ideas and methods all their own? One thing for sure, we’ll see soon enough.
What are your thoughts?