ENRICHED E-BOOKS

- by Nancy Cohen

What is an enriched ebook and how does it differ from an ordinary one? An enriched ebook has bonus features like on a DVD. These can include research material, references, deleted passages, alternate endings, footnotes, audio interview with the author, research photos, interactive maps that follow the action, music to accompany scenes in the story with music, commentary by the author.

As you may have guessed, adding these features means more work, but we do a lot of this anyway. For example, I’ve added a glossary to the ebook edition of Circle of Light, my first book published in 1994 and just now debuting in digital format. Imagine if I’d added these features to my mysteries when they came out  in ebook format. I’d have been able to share my research photos, info I gathered at on-site locations, research material that didn’t make it into the story.

Do readers care?  When you’re engrossed in a world the author has created, often you don’t want the story to end. I know that when I finished the Harry Potter series, I wanted to read more about the lives of Harry and friends after they left school. The brief epilogue wasn’t enough to satisfy me. So the question is, will readers want to read more about your fictional world and your characters? Do they care to learn about the writing process involved in creating the story? Or would they rather close the page and wait for the sequel? Will this enhance reading experiences or add more burden on the author’s shoulders? Will it draw in young readers who look for multi-media presentations?

There’s no doubt the publishing industry is changing. Authors have to embrace these changes or risk getting left behind in the dust.

11 comments

  1. Interesting. I’d never heard about enriched ebooks before. You’re right about embracing changes. Those who don’t risk being left behind.

  2. I agree! Change, while scary, can lead to amazing things. Thanks for explaing about enriched ebooks :)

  3. Interesting article and interesting concept, Nancy. I’ve never personally liked outtakes from movies, but my husband loves them. I expect enhanced e-books might have the same appeal. Something we should all pay attention to, I think. Thanks for the info.

  4. Some of us may already be adding these bonus features to our websites. It’s only another step to putting them on e-books. This enhancement may increase the appeal of these books to the younger generation who are used to DVD extras. It would also appeal to fans who can’t get enough of their favorite author’s world building.

  5. Very interesting post. I never thought of it this way. Sounds like a great promo op to me.
    Your books are the best Nancy!

  6. I was telling my publisher we needed illustrations for e-books years ago, and she didn’t even understand the concept.

    But now that I’m playing with e-readers and e-books, I have to wonder how much enrichment can be added without causing problems for the devices. Of course, an iPad and its ilk can handle anything, but a cheap e-reader? So would we need still another format? Or is this something that will have to wait until handheld e-readers can compete with computers?

  7. Good point, Patricia. Perhaps a new generation of e-book readers is needed to allow for the extra material.

  8. Well, I love all the extras on DVDs so I like the sounds of book extras, too. I can see fans of Harry Potter & Twilight eating it up. ANy author who has one of those really intense fanbases.

  9. Extra content is a great idea. As Kristin said, I love it on DVDs, so why not ebooks? If it were interesting enough, it might encourage people who already own the paperback, to by the digital version as well.

  10. That’s true, Julie. It’s like the different editions of a movie on DVD: Special Edition, Director’s Cut, Theatrical Release, etc. They all play on the same machine but offer different bonus features.

  11. For an excellent example of what an enriched ebook can be, see this review of the iPad app for Elements by Theodore Gray. There’s video, so you can really see what it does

    http://www.boingboing.net/2010/04/01/the-elements-for-ipa.html