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HarperCollins Launches New Effort to Promote Enhanced eBooks

harpercollins enhanced ebooksEnhanced ebooks have never quite been as successful as some publishers would like, but I think HarperCollins wants to change that. They’ve just launched a new webpage on the official HarperCollins website that is focused on promoting enhanced ebooks:

 Some books featured on the page right now are American Gods, The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Telegraph Avenue, Prague Winter and more! Visit the page to watch a great video that features authors such as Michael Chabon and Colin Powell discussing their enhanced e-Books.

HarperCollins is calling them deluxe ebooks and not enhanced ebooks, and the site currently highlights 13 titles published by HarperCollins.

You cannot tell this from the webpage but that’s only fraction of the enhanced ebooks published by HarperCollins; I found some 4 dozen titles in the Kindle Store and there are probably more titles in other ebookstores.

And for those who aren’t familiar with enhanced ebooks, HC has also posted this video on the webpage:

HC distributes enhanced ebooks to iBooks, Nook, and the Kindle Store. The ebooks can be downloaded to iPad, iPhones, Nooks, Kindle Fires and more, all at the appropriate sites.


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Becca April 23, 2013 um 5:55 pm

I am totally uninterested in these enhancements. I don’t want to be interactive with my books, I just want to read them. So far, I haven’t seen anything to change my mind on it. It’s not that I’m closed to the idea, I just haven’t seen anything that would take me away from my Paperwhite into wanting to read on a tablet.

Gary April 24, 2013 um 10:22 am

Becca, I agree completely.

Note that the following applies to "enhanced" fiction books. Enhanced text books, user manuals, guide books, or children’s picture books are completely a different matter.

I am open to the idea of an "enhanced eBook" but adding author interviews, book club discussion points, and photographs of places used in a novel do not add anything that I am interested in. I am especially uninterested in any "extra" feature that requires me to stop reading and enjoying the story, so that I can look at the extra feature instead.

To me, an enhanced fiction book has to make the experience of absorbing the story deeper, more compelling, and more satisfying.

The only book enhancement idea I have been able to come up with to illustrate what I mean is to add a subliminal audio track to a novel.

Imagine, for example, that I am reading a detective novel on a tablet. The built in camera might be used to track my eye movements as I read. When I reach the paragraph where the detective goes into a bar to interview the bartender, the subliminal audio track might play the sound of the door opening and then the sounds of conversation and clinking glasses into my wireless headphones. Later, when the detective is stuck in traffic, I would hear traffic noises, and when the detective gets home to his beach house, I would hear the sound of surf.

Adding such an audio track, if it is precisely liked to the story I am reading, and provided that it is quiet enough to be heard, without being intrusive, might be an enhancement I would pay extra for. I would certainly be willing to pay extra for one or two such enhanced books, to see if I liked them better than text-only books.

There are probably other ways to enhance the basic story in a fiction book, but I haven’t thought of any more. I hope to have the opportunity to check out some "real" enhancements some day.

Becca April 24, 2013 um 1:46 pm

The only books where I’d want an audio track are the John Ceepak books by Chris Grabenstein (great mysteries) – especially in the earlier books, they quote Bruce Springstein a lot, and it might be useful to have a playlist.

I don’t like sound effects (doors slamming, etc) in my audio books; I’d like them even less in my long-form narrative books (novels)

carmen webster buxton April 23, 2013 um 7:16 pm

The Vook never took off, either. I much prefer the movie that plays in my head when I read a book that holds my interest to the one that plays on a screen. The primary kind of enhancement I would like in ebooks would be better navigation. If I’m reading something that requires me to consult a map or a glossary. it would be nice to get to it quickly and then go back to reading quickly. I can do that with my Paperwhite but not without some steps. I do like the X-Ray feature in certain kinds of books, especially non-fiction. It’s handy when reading a book that covers a lot of time, to be able to touch a character’s name and then see right away who that character is.

Nate Hoffelder April 23, 2013 um 7:29 pm

Vook is what I use as a milestone to judge the rise and fall of enhanced ebooks. They launched in 2009 with the intention of making their own. In 2011 Vook pivoted to making enhanced ebooks for others, and in 2012 they pivoted to distributing ebooks.

That is not a strike against Vook; startups pivot. But it does tell you a lot about the rise and fall of enhanced ebooks.

Len Feldman April 24, 2013 um 10:57 am

By and large, "enhancements" detract from the reading experience rather than add to it. The HarperCollins video shows the kinds of enhancements that annoy me when I’m reading magazines on my iPad. There’s a market for apps that use eBook content to create an entirely new experience, but for linear content that’s meant to be read, enhancements act primarily as distractions and interruptions.

Ben April 24, 2013 um 2:59 pm

The problem with "enhanced" ebooks lies in publishers want to charge more for content readers may or may not want. When you only offer one version of the ebook with only "enhanced" content then you see where the problem comes from.

I often see cookbooks with images vs without and you see the difference in price. Readers just can’t wrap their heads around the concept yet when it comes to ebooks. Another problem is when publishers just throw in bonus materials that doesn’t actually "enhance" anything other than higher pricing and this is where readers felt like they get rip-off.

Give it time. It’s just ahead of it’s time.

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