View Full Version : On the Future of Readers (just rambling)
03-03-2005, 08:14 AM
I was laying in bed last night trying to fall asleep. I am reading the last book of the Otori series by Lian Hearn and I was thinking how dull eBooks are and how dull paper books are for that matter. But many times eBooks are even denied their covers so all you get is just type. Don't get me wrong this is the best part. It's like getting a monet painting and complaining the frame is dull but just bear with me.
I started thinking about how ebooks could instill some of the feeling and emotion of the stories. I really think that in the future, eBooks should move beyond plain type and start adding animations. For example vines that grow up the margin of the page. Skys the limit as far as simple animations, nothing much, just something that happens evertime you begin a new page lasting maybe 3sec. Maybe authors should spend some money on hiring illustrators. Remember, color doesn't cost any more money in digital. Also I have noticed that games are starting to emulate movies as in that you play some of the game and then you get a long story sequence. How about the same with books you read: at the end of each chapter you get some animation. I think this would be the greatest because many authors like Neil Gaimen already take alot of advantage of the art world. I could just imagine some of his stories like Underworld have cut scenes done by some of those great japanese animators.
I know that many people prefer having no pictures and no movies/voices because they like to imagine things. But it is just an idea of where eBooks could go. I realize that many authors don't have the money to pay for these kind of extras; still, if you want to receive bigger dividens you need to invest more - but these are extreme cases. Just adding some more life to a book wouldn't necessarily increase the price or the expenses for the author, I think. Once this would become main stream like watching movies or such, I expect that eBooks will cost around the same as hard-cover books. Not too bad. Also since many people don't want all extras, maybe there would also be a way to just release a plain-text version. Kinda like some authors do it now: releasing a collector's edition with extra pictures in the book. I think that authors should start adding alot more extras in eBooks, now that they are digital and it can be done.
Sorry for all the rambeling and bad spelling but I just got all these ideas and wanted to know what you guys thought was possible/feasable. This would also probably require a eBook-only reading device :shy:
03-03-2005, 08:43 AM
Great thoughts! I've been tossing around some concepts like this in my head for a while, but don't really know what to think of it yet. But you've done such a great job of "getting the ideas on the table" for discussion, which is sometimes the hardest part!
I've been wondering why those adventure games (also called interactive fiction) aren't made for a simpler read, or at least why they don't provide a very helpful hint system in the games.
On the one hand, I think I can understand why few books will have the kind of commercial enhancements you have talked about... a game is generally thought of as a repeatable exercise that's fun even after completing it once. (I'm not really a gamer, so help me out guys... is that right?) But a book is something you generally experience once or twice and are more interested in the core read than the wrapping. That would not provide much incentive to spend time and money with frills. Especially if the particular illustration technology limits the audience.
But, on the other hand, there was a lot of time spent on making books fancy in the paper format for hundreds of years, so why not ebooks? Some books would really find enhancement of the story, like Tolkien's books. Of course those aren't even availble legally in etext form, so I guess that's not likely.
How about Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy? Wouldn't it be great to have a version that integrates the BBC video series!!!! Or how about some other classic books for which the pictures already exist? Or even popular sci fi books. Isn't there fan-fiction? How about fan-illustration!? (Someone would need to create a few software features to support that, but people are creative and I'm sure it could happen if there was enough of a groundswell of interest.)
On the other, other hand, though, I'm not really impressed at the way people have integrated multimedia into text. E.g. even encyclopedias or reference books. It seems that it's either not very easy, or no one has come up with the right approach. So maybe it will have to grow out of interaction fiction which may gravitate into "real" books instead of stories written just for that fiction.
Anyone remember a company that did something like that for Palm a while back? I think they did Sherlock Holmes stories, but I can't remember.
Great thread, Team7, and I'm looking forward to other people's perspectives.
03-03-2005, 03:22 PM
I see where you are going, but no, just give me the raw text and without DRM and I am happy. It is the story that counts and good books don't need gimmics. If there are illustrations (animated or not) relevant to the story, good. You can even add advertisements if that would make ebooks cheaper as far as I am concerned.
But showing distracting animations because you change page, no thanks: changing page has nothing to do with the story in book.
This said, I can imagine mixed media books, but that would demand very different book readers than those we have today. I am sure there are plenty of mixed media artists with stories to tell. But this is a different kind of "book" (if that is the word).
03-03-2005, 10:20 PM
I like the ebook to at least contain the cover image and any other images, maps, etc that were in the original paper book. This rarely happens, but MS reader format ebooks _do_ tend to include them, which is handy :)
Other features like you mentioned are interesting, and might make the reading experience better for some, but others might find them distracting. You also need to consider what's being read. I don't think I'd like to see animations in a novel, for instance, but an etext book or manual would really benefit from extra features like this, and might really open up ebook versions as worthy alternatives to the paper versions.
03-04-2005, 08:18 AM
I actually contacted fictionwise as to why they dont include covers on alot of their books and their reply was that it makes the file size too big. I think this is rediculous but oh well. I see that most of you are against most of the additions which is fine. As for the animations I just know that many people are always saying they wish certian books would be made into movies. I think that this could be somewhat done with what I have proposed. I dont know how I would feel about using live actors but then again maybe that would be idea too. I just read alot of fantasy and in fantasy they have lots of journeys so maybe some maps that move. Maybe kinda plot courses. For example in Lord of the Rings when they go from one destination to another a short cut scene pops up showing the movement from one city to the next when you turn the page or click on something. Also I just thought alot of fantasy books could benifit from illustrations along the boarders to draw the reader in. Maybe make it look more like an ancient text. Sounds stupid but I dont really know how else to describe it. But anyway just some ideas.
03-04-2005, 09:07 AM
I don't think it's stupid at all. One man's meat is another mans potatoes, as they say.... Errm I mean, different strokes for different folks.... Oh, you know what I mean!! :)
I think this sort of thing has it's place, definately. I'd like it to be configurable though (ie you could switch it off if you didn't want it).
03-04-2005, 09:48 AM
Also I just thought alot of fantasy books could benifit from illustrations along the boarders to draw the reader in. Maybe make it look more like an ancient text. That might be possible now via the ebook software. For example, ereader has a default texture background which I really like. But, then again, I'd be against any borders that take up screen real estate...
03-04-2005, 05:19 PM
That might be possible now via the ebook software. For example, ereader has a default texture background which I really like. But, then again, I'd be against any borders that take up screen real estate...
True, screen real estate is scarce on our PDA screens at the moment, but the next generation of book readers will most likely emulate the size of a typical paperback screen. If this is so, larger borders will be a natural looking part of the screen format, and this would work then.
Did I mention that µbook is skinnable as well, so you can create almost any look you want for your reading experience (any excuse to flog my favourite reader :) ).
03-04-2005, 06:26 PM
I think that including movie clips, animations would be very neat. It would have to be done in a way that doesn't interfere with the flow of the text. Maybe a single line of text (like a hyperlink) would expand a box and show the clip. It could of course greatly increase the size of the file. Just basic images wouldn't though. With some eReader formatted books, they do include the cover image, and iSilo can of course include images anywhere in the document.
I imagine that there would be quite a demand for 'Enhanced eBooks' if they were done well.
03-05-2005, 01:42 AM
yea screen real estate is a scare comodity on PDAs. Thats why I think in the future ebook readers will become the norm. People will completely, yes completely switch to ebooks. I think that people will start using ebooks reader hardware that will do away with the screen real estate problem. The way that the flexible screen technology is going along, this will probably eliminate the screen size problem very quickly. But as it stands now I wouldnt want anything crowding my screen more than it is now.
03-05-2005, 10:43 AM
...I think that people will start using ebooks reader hardware that will do away with the screen real estate problem.That is certain to get a rise out of us! A very controversial statement, and very interesting subject!
But I think that we can at least all agree any complete replacement of paper for viewed content is a long way off, if ever. We just might argue about the number of years or the "if ever" part. Some of the things that will be hard to do with ebooks and epaper will, in my mind, leave a place for the real thing for a long time to come...
*) The nice feel of paper on your fingers.
*) The tactile sensations of holding a book and knowing by feel how big it is
*) The feel of paging through a book to browse it
*) The real-time response as you interact with paper
*) The way you can crinkle it up when you throw a page away
*) The the way the image looks on various papers
*) All the technology and industries devoted to paper products
But epaper will be so much more powerful, maybe you're right and it will be so responsive, so feature-laden, and with so many perfected qualities that paper will have no advantages left. I'd love to have a nice desk surface that could display paper-like images anywhere on the surface, be tactile friendly and touch sensitive, and be just as easy to look at as paper. Then I wouldn't have to have that video display hovering over me all the time and I could use the desk more like desks used to be!
But, personally, I just don't see that going so far in this next 50yrs or so, anyway, to replace paper completely. And that means I am unlikely to see it in my lifetime even if it happens.