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Old 09-11-2005, 09:13 AM   #1
Colin Dunstan
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E-books could be more than just type

Has it ever occured to you that e-books appear dull and boring? E-books could contain illustrations, photos and diagrams without increasing their weight or volume. E-books could also contain aminated video clips and clips of music or poetry. So why have e-book publishers been so hesitant in adding extra content to e-books that could make them more valuable to many than regular paper books? Listen to Sadi Ranson-Polizzotti's call for "better-looking" e-books through her latest podcast at Teleread.

Related: On the Future of Readers

Last edited by Colin Dunstan; 09-11-2005 at 01:05 PM. Reason: edited podcast link
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Old 09-11-2005, 10:58 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin Dunstan
Has it ever occured to you that e-books appear dull and boring? E-books could contain illustrations, photos and diagrams without increasing their weight or volume.
I'm sorry, but I just had a flashback to high school where I was (and still am) somewhat of a bookworm. One of my classmates picked up my book of the week, flipped through it and, with disgust, put it back down saying "There's no pictures!"

The majority of the (definately not dull and boring) eBooks that I read do not have pictures/illustrations/diagrams and really wouldn't benefit from having them.
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Old 09-11-2005, 11:45 AM   #3
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I can see where pictures and "extra" might do well for kids book or for books read on an ebook reader with a larger and more spectacular screen (like we keep hoping to see from a new display technology sometime).

I can also think of a handful of books that were non-fiction stories that had a few pictures so you could see the real event and the real people involved. That would be nice.

But for almost all the books I read, all I want is the text, and it's an uneccessary but pleasant bonus to get some formatting to make headings/chapter breaks clear, some formatting for italics and bold if necessary, and maybe even some hyperlinks if the material suggests it.

Basically I guess I'm with rlauzon... text only is just fine. Why does a novel need pictures?
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Old 09-11-2005, 12:01 PM   #4
Colin Dunstan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobR
Basically I guess I'm with rlauzon... text only is just fine. Why does a novel need pictures?
Not the novel itself... the complete e-book package could contain extra material to enhance the overall reading experience. Compare it to the collector's edition of a DVD. You don't get just the movie, but all kinds of background information including interviews, the making of, trailers, etc. In the case of the e-book that could be interviews with the author, excerpts from the audio book edition, references to other authors, etc.

While some readers might just be interested in the novel, others might find exactly the pro argument for e-books in the extra (multimedia) content that cannot be offered with paper books.
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Old 09-11-2005, 12:38 PM   #5
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I don't know if you've linked to the right podcast there. She's talking about industry standards for e-books to make them appear more professional.
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Old 09-11-2005, 01:06 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurens
I don't know if you've linked to the right podcast there. She's talking about industry standards for e-books to make them appear more professional.
Sorry about that. I replaced it with the link to the actual article at Teleread. Thanks.
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Old 09-11-2005, 01:18 PM   #7
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I certainly miss simple things like cover art. Why not include it if it has already been done for the hardcopy?

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Old 09-11-2005, 02:03 PM   #8
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That's something I always wondered about. I think it' a gret idea to "spice" up the interactivity of eBooks. Sure, some people prefer plain vanilla text (maybe because that's all they're used to), but why not add features for those of us who wouldn't mind hearing the noises of the bar scene or the playground noises of the kids scene gently wafting in the background as we read the text.

It might bother me to hear the character's voices or see the character's visages if I'd already "created" them in my mind, but maybe not. I used to like the occasional pictures in those old Hardy Boys novels. I think it really added to the story and the suspense. Even with the LOTR books, the illustrations on the paperbacks really set the stage and the tone for the series.

There are purists with everything everywhere, and if all decisions were left up to them we might not have electricity or telephones or cars. Thankfully, progress is unavoidable and if some company takes a chance to make eBooks more interactive and the market responds positively the text-only eBook purists will just have to adapt.
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Old 09-11-2005, 07:02 PM   #9
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I'm still not seeing it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin Dunstan
Not the novel itself... the complete e-book package could contain extra material to enhance the overall reading experience.
Sorry. But I'm still not seeing it.

I'm thinking of the paperback edition of The Hobbit, for example, with the hardcover version - which extra pictures. The hardcover version is nice to have in my collection, but the extra pictures really didn't do anything to impact my enjoyment of the book.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin Dunstan
Compare it to the collector's edition of a DVD. You don't get just the movie, but all kinds of background information including interviews, the making of, trailers, etc. In the case of the e-book that could be interviews with the author, excerpts from the audio book edition, references to other authors, etc.
That might be the reason I can't see it.

So far, very few "collector edition" DVDs have had any extras that I've found valuable (or even interesting). Things like interviews, making-of, etc. really don't interest me.
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Old 09-11-2005, 07:07 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by surur
I certainly miss simple things like cover art. Why not include it if it has already been done for the hardcopy?
I've seen that with Plucker version eBooks, for example. But let's say that you have a nice PDA with a 640x480 screen. That cover art picture takes up 71K. The rest of the eBook is probably 2 times that. So 1/3 of the size of an eBook is just the one page cover-art.

Even with our current technology, a picture isn't worth a 1000 words. It's worth somewhere around 17,000 words. (Yes, a play on words where a computer "word" = 32 bits - at least on my machine.)

Right now, the only useful type of eBook reader that I've seen is the PDA. And with the memory restrictions on such a device, having 1/3 of your memory taken up by just a 1 page art work really isn't worth it, IMHO.
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Old 09-11-2005, 07:11 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pride Of Lions
but why not add features for those of us who wouldn't mind hearing the noises of the bar scene or the playground noises of the kids scene gently wafting in the background as we read the text.
It sounds like you might enjoy Podiobooks more then. I've been listening to a few of these lately (and Scott Sigler's Ancestor is supposed to be out today) and they offer very nice audio representations of books.

The problem with offering such audio cues in written books is that the reader can't tell where your eyes are and when to play the cue.
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Old 09-12-2005, 02:24 AM   #12
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<i>hesitant in adding extra content to e-books</i>

1. such material does not exist and would have to be created and the readers expense
2. such material makes reading slower (especially in MS Reader)
3. such material takes up more room on your reading device
4. adding such material would make the ebooks more expensive and most ebooks are too expensive as they are
5. as witnessed by the sales of paperback books, most readers don't miss illustrations and would certainly not want to pay for them
6. such material makes downloads slower (problem if download while travelling or have to redownload all your ebooks)
...

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Old 09-12-2005, 03:36 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rlauzon
So far, very few "collector edition" DVDs have had any extras that I've found valuable (or even interesting). Things like interviews, making-of, etc. really don't interest me.
Same here! I rarely watch bonus material. Wading through all that stuff just takes up more of your time.
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Old 09-12-2005, 05:12 AM   #14
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Hmm, I think if it was in the print book, it should be in the ebook. Anything extra from that is too much, IMHO. If a book has some illustrations, maps, etc, I _want_ those in the ebook.

That's another reason I like µbook so much. Most of my ebooks are in zipped html format, so I can pick and choose if I want to include those large images (I can even resize them and use the smaller image in many cases). The zipped file usually has a smaller footprint than the same ereader or mobipocket book, too.

Now if only µbook supported rar archives.... mmmm......

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Old 09-12-2005, 06:33 AM   #15
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"Hmm, I think if it was in the print book, it should be in the ebook."

That depends. If an artbook: yes. If technical illustrations, they are probably a necessary part fo the book. If photos in a biography: no as far as I am concerned, but I guess that some people might want them. If pretty pictures in a scifi, spy or mystery novel: generally no thanks; I have in my time seen a lot of illustrations in fiction books and mostly found them to be uninteresting.

I think it is at this stage important to get the prices down on ebooks, rather than add extras that doesn't really improve the contents. Someone has to pay for all these extras; and it is not going to be the publisher.

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