A Look at Interactive Ebooks

Interactive, multimedia ebooks are starting to gain some traction. In addition to embedding audio and video, some ebook creators are experimenting with game elements, using GPS, and adding activities.

A year ago, Digital Book World discussed why enhanced ebooks were not taking off yet. According to Peter Costanzo, “The main problem is that the market as it currently exists does not allow publishers to deliver the same enhanced product across all current digital platforms, whether it be Apple’s iPad, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, and Kobo’s Arc.”

But now, Digital Book World has been speculating that films could be the answer to enhanced ebooks success.

There are two kinds of enhanced ebooks: ebooks for iPad, Kindle Fire, Nook, and Kobo, and apps.

Here are some examples of apps:

  • One interactive book app is The Jungle. In addition to beautiful illustrations, readers can interact with elements of the story.
  • The Night Film is “peppered throughout with faux news articles, photographs, and archives. Some of the graphical elements include a bird image (which in and of itself feels like a wink for “Portlandia” fans – “Put a bird on it!”) that may hold clues and more content to unlock via the decoder app.”

For enhanced ebooks that are actually ebooks, here are several options for enhancing a work (note, this is not a comprehensive list):

  • Adding hyperlinks. This one is basic, but they can help give background on a story or provide more resources.
  • Embedding videos, though sometimes that makes the file size too large.
  • Scrolling tools. Lonely Planet’s travel books use widgets in iAuthor to scroll text. It’s simple, but effective.

Several companies are working on putting out interactive book content. Here are a few:

  • Dreaming Methods, which experiments with digital fiction using jquery and flash.
  • Adaptive Studios, which publishes YA novels and “looks to find abandoned Intellectual property and revive it for production in a wide variety of media.”
  • MIX03, which hosts a conference. In 2013, they had a MIX Making Day to experiment with hybrid publishing.
  • Mmooks, which focuses on education and non-fiction.
  • Moglue, which “lets professionals or amateurs create interactive, multimedia-enriched apps with sound, animation and video and is geared towards books and stories.”
  • Accel.io, which is a platform that was “built to help create and sell interactive books with text, embed videos, slides, maps and more for any kind of reading device.”

For some more ideas on apps and enhanced ebooks, here’s a (somewhat dated, from 2013) list of trends.

Have you worked with any multimedia projects for your books? Please share in the comments!

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