ScienceOnline NYC: Enhanced eBooks & BookApps: the Promise and Perils

I'll be speaking at the upcoming Science Online NYC event on September 20th.

Enhanced eBooks & BookApps: the Promise and Perils

Tuesday, September 20, 2011 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM (ET)
New York, NY

Weiss 305
Rockefeller University
E66th and York Ave.
New York, NY

Enhanced ebooks and tablet apps clearly offer new ways to present material and engage readers. Yet some of the software restrictions and rights deals that these ebooks, apps and their platforms use can make them unfriendly to librarians, archivists, and future users. How can authors, designers, and publishers best exploit these new opportunities while avoiding their current and potential downsides?

Some questions that the panel will discuss include: How do we develop AppBooks or enhanced eBooks that make the most of the technology without locking the contents in proprietary formats that may be hard to crack open in 5 or 50 years? How can we reconcile the desires and agendas of authors, app developers, publishers, librarians, archivists, and readers?

September's panel includes representatives from all these groups and promises a lively discussion around one of the hotter topics from the ScienceOnline e-book session last January.

David Dobbs, moderator (As well as an author, blogger, and ebook experimentalist).
John Dupuis
Evan Ratliff, co-founder and editor, The Atavist.
Amanda Moon, senior editor, FSG/Scientific American Books.
Carl Zimmer, author, journalist, and blogger.

This can be thought of as a kind of sequel to the ScienceOnline 2011 ebooks session.

It's a free event. The tickets are going fast, get them while they're hot!

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Trapdoor Books: Doing Enhanced eBooks Right

Do a search on Google for enhanced ebooks and you will find that thereâs a divergence of opinion on them. The main critique falls into three areas.

The first opinion states that enhanced ebooks with embedded video, sound and graphics, takes away from the enjoyment of the book because the enhanced ebook intrudes on the readerâs ability to imagine the story in his mind. The very popular Harry Potter books loved by children are used as a prime example.

This opinion states that any attempt to add greater dimensions to the Harry Potter story telling like the movies takes away from the imagination of the children. But thatâs a false argument.

Sure, when a child reads a Harry Potter book, he or she congers up a vivid picture in their mind of the characters and environment in the book. Those critics hold that the movies made from those books somehow take away from that imagination process.

But if that were true, how do you account form the hundreds of millions of dollars each book in the series has generated as a movie? And most of the audience for these movies are the children that read the Harry Potter book. The children enjoyed both versions of the story telling and it did little to take way their imagination of the story.

Of course, the professional handling of the book material by the movie studio did the story justice. As in anything creative â it has bee done well.

The second critique of enhanced ebooks comes from those that say the imbedded multimedia and extended material interrupts the reading experience. They claim, rightfully so, that the embedded video, audio and links to the Internet within the text interrupts the reading of the book. But Trapdoor Books has recognized this problem and placed its multimedia and outside links in what is called the âmarginaliaâ that sits along the outside column of the text. This marginalia can be totally turned off and the reader can read just text.

The third critique has nothing to do with the reading experience. It has to do with economics â the cost of producing enhanced ebooks. This is a valid critique. It does cost more to produce an enhanced book. Thus the retail cost of the ebook is higher than the traditional ebook.

But Trapdoor Books has found a solution to that. Their enhanced books are FREE. They are advertising supported and that revenue pays for the production of the ebook.

So, Trapdoor Books has found the way to meet the objections of the enhanced book skeptics.