Enhanced ebooks are dead – Evan Schnittman was mostly right
The London Book Fair is going to begin tomorrow, and today there was a digital conference. One of the key topics at was enhanced ebooks. Specifically, Evan Schnittman, the managing director of Bloomsbury, is reported to have argued in his keynote that enhanced ebooks are dead.
I’m waiting to hear back from him, and all I have to go on right now is a summary of his address I found in The Bookseller. So I don’t want to read too much into it (until I know what he actually said). From what I can tell, his words were taken out of context.
"Enhanced will have an incredibly big future in education, but the idea of innovation in the narrative reading process is just a non-starter, I’ve been smug about this, and now I’m even smugger."
I’ve never liked most enhanced ebooks. All too many consist of audio and video slapped on top of an existing story with out really adding anything to the story. In a lot of cases you could read the original and not lose anything. In others, the added content comes to little more thanslapped on .
With that in mind, I kinda wish he hadn’t been so outspoken on the death of enhanced ebooks. Yes, a lot of the ones made so far are a waste of money, but the idea is not. His keynote is going to be misinterpreted into calling for the death of all enhanced ebooks, and that’s not what he said. That’s going to scare some away from the idea of enhanced ebooks which could kill some worthwhile projects.
This brings to mind. It’s built on an Ann Rice story and while it’s a waste of money as an ebook, it’s a pretty decent fan app. It will still appeal to a particular niche audience – fans of Ann Rice.
Speaking of enhanced ebooks, I’ve had one in my library for about 4 years now – only it might not be what you think of as enhanced. There’s a version of A Fire upon the Deep byVernor Vinge that has all sorts of interesting footnotes. It includes a number of his working notes like background data, cross-reference hints, and reminders. It’s worth it to his fans to get the enhanced ebook.
Basically I’m agreeing with Evan that enhancing an existing story is a waste, but adding content that will interest the reader might not be.