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Old 04-04-2009, 11:41 AM   #1
zelda_pinwheel
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Brilliant interactive stories by Penguin : is this the future of (e)books ?

In Penguin's "We tell stories" project, 6 books are revisited by contemporary authors, artists, and webdesigners to create original interpretations or variations.

One of my favorites uses google maps to re-tell the 39 Steps by John Buchan in an interactive animation called "the 21 steps" by Charles Cumming.

For the moment of course this is only accessible from a pc with an internet connection but imagine what sort of interactive stories are waiting for us in the near future ! The epub spec already supports multimedia elements like audio files and flash animations, and dedicated reading devices with the ability to handle these media are probably closer than we think. While this series is presented for entertainment purposes I could imagine content-rich interactive textbooks for children and artistic "installations" in ebooks which would allow you to create a more personal relationship with artwork.

What do you think ? "Text only please, all those gimmicks are for kids", or "Holy high tech batman, it's the future (and i love it)" ? What kinds of interactive books would you like to see ?
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Old 04-04-2009, 11:59 AM   #2
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I think it is an interesting idea with potential; but I didn't find "The 21 Steps" very immersive. Watching the map moving around just kept interrupting the narrative, and there was no interaction in terms of the reader controlling the story (not in the bits I watched anyway).

Other multimedia elements would help, but are the creators aiming for an interactive, or just a multimedia, experience?
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Old 04-04-2009, 12:09 PM   #3
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I think it is an interesting idea with potential; but I didn't find "The 21 Steps" very immersive. Watching the map moving around just kept interrupting the narrative, and there was no interaction in terms of the reader controlling the story (not in the bits I watched anyway).

Other multimedia elements would help, but are the creators aiming for an interactive, or just a multimedia, experience?
i certainly agree with you that it's not the same immersive experience as reading a novel. to be honest i think these particular examples are meant as a multimedia experience, and are probably closer to an experimental "proof of concept" or similar.

but, i like the idea very much and while i didn't enjoy the 21 steps in the same way as i enjoy reading a book, i did like seeing the story played out on the map, giving me a sense of the geographical setting. full disclosure, i liked that one so much because i love maps, so it's hardly an unbiased appreciation of the "reading" experience.

overall what i am really applauding is the fact that they actually tried to think of new ways to present these stories and allowed artists to break away from text (to some degree ; text is pretty crucial when you're telling a story in written form). and although these examples might not be the most convincing realisations i think they do allow you to imagine new ways of relating to a text, and that's what i find most interesting. i think it's a good idea and a good initiative, and i'd love to see other authors / publishers / artists pushing the limits even further. perhaps it's a separate experience from reading ; i think i approached it more like a multi-media artform than purely as a "book".
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Old 04-04-2009, 12:10 PM   #4
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Old 04-04-2009, 12:11 PM   #5
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hee hee !
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Old 04-04-2009, 12:19 PM   #6
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I like the idea (so long as it never ends up replacing traditional text ). I'm also finding the 21 Steps actually rather enjoyable (call me sad, but I'm finding watching maps rather entertaining!)
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Old 04-04-2009, 12:22 PM   #7
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I like the idea (so long as it never ends up replacing traditional text ). I'm also finding the 21 Steps actually rather enjoyable (call me sad, but I'm finding watching maps rather entertaining!)
i'm the last person who would call that sad, as i feel the same way.
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