It’s a Book … It’s an E-Book … It’s an App?

When is a book not just a book? Well, today.

You see, a book used to be nothing but print on paper. But then e-books started taking off, and the traditional book became an electronic version of the same. Today, with all of the downloads and apps out there — which have numerous bells and whistles — the book industry is just starting to figure out that it needs to catch up.

According to a recent article on Wired, book publishers are trying to figure out how to make their titles more immersive in this digital world. In other words, they need to take what was once a reading experience and add audio, video and interactive components for their built-for-tablet books.

According to the Wired article, here are some examples of the initial authors and publishers venturing into this realm. Check these out … hopefully they can spark some ideas.

  • Chronicle (a small publishing company) recently released an iPad app for artist Stephan Pastis’ comics series Pearls Before Swine.
  • A few years ago, author Amanda Havard wasn’t able to find a publisher that could bring her book The Survivors to electronic life the way she wanted. So she and her father, L.C. Havard, a former executive for a company that developed technologies for the health insurance industry, formed a company called Chafie Press to publish her books and create digital offerings. The app version of The Survivors, the first in a series of five books, integrates audio files of the music her characters are listening to (some of it produced by Chafie), pictures of the designer clothes they’re wearing, links to the characters’ Twitter accounts (Havard mostly runs them herself) and Google Maps of the places they visit
  • HarperCollins released an app for The Art of the Adventures of Tintin last year; Penguin Books also launched a much-lauded app of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.
  • An immersive retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is also being released as an iPad and iPhone app on April 26.

As an author today, you have to do more than just put words on paper. When you start working on your next book, think about it as a three-dimensional experience. Think audio, video, graphics. Consider how readers can interact with the story. If you don’t keep these types of things in mind, you’ll probably fall behind the times.

Happy reading!