Google just released another installment in its media project, Editions at Play, and it got me wondering: Did they release an ebook?
It’s been a long time since Editions at Play got much press, so I should probably first explain what it is. This is a project Google started in 2015. It now consists of a total of 9 works that were made using web technologies. Each one is located at its own web domain, and most are free to read.
For as long as Google has been developing Editions at Play, they have called these works books, or digital books, or ebooks. And for just as long, I have pointed out that the story may be on a website, but that doesn’t make it a book.
I have in fact said that so often that I was going to drop the issue but then a few weeks ago I found a discussion on KBoards where a bunch of authors spent three pages trying to convince a developer that the online manual he had developed was not an ebook, and should not be called one. (I have not seen his manual, but it sounds quite similar in concept to Editions at Play.)
So tell me, who is right?
Is the latest Editions at Play work, We Kiss The Screens, an ebook?
The authors on KBoards would say no. “People expect something they can download and load on an ereader if you say ebook. Information stored on a website behind a paywall does not meet that requirement,” one wrote. Another added “To me, the defining characteristic of an ebook or digital book is that I can put it on my own device and read it offline.”
As I see it, the folks behind Editions at Play have confused the content for the container. Book, ebook, and website are all containers for content. Putting a story on a website doesn’t suddenly make the website a book because the content is not the container.
What do you think?