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Print Books vs. eBooks vs. enhanced eBooks

Print Books vs. eBooks vs. enhanced eBooksPrint Books vs. eBooks vs. enhanced eBooks

The eBook revolution is still going on at full speed, with eBooks overtaking print books in different genres already.

Yet, the difference between print books and eBooks is one of reading support mainly, like switching from carving written material onto stone to writing on papyrus, or from handwriting to printing.

It certainly makes portability and storage much easier, whereas the process of reading remains pretty much the same.

Now, especially when talking about fiction, if we look at the difference between reading a book and watching a movie, we are talking about two vastly divergent processes.

Whereas both processes initially imply a writer, when the writer wrote a book, he conveyed a story and characters that would be immensely modified in the imagination of the reader. If we could take pictures of mental images, it is very likely that John Doe’s mental image of, say, Harry Potter, has little to do with the image J.K. Rowling had in mind. That is actually great, since it enables John Doe to create bridges between Harry Potter’s personae and his own reality.

The growing interest in bibliotherapy clearly indicates the potential healing powers of narrative, but that implies letting the reader’s imagination roam free and create whatever mental association that will impact his subconscious and help healing woes.

However, watching Harry Potter’s movies has a completely different impact than reading the book, as physical appearance and body language, soundtrack and camerawork are reflecting the producer, actors, composer and cameraman imagination in addition to that of J.K. Rowling.  This leaves much less room to the viewer’s imagination and considerably lessens the potential healing effect of the narrative.

This leads us to enhanced eBooks. Enhanced eBooks introduce new elements in the concept of books. Some of those elements, such as hyperlink instead of footnotes for example, are not significantly modifying the reading experience. The addition of ads at the top of bottom of the page in order to maximize revenue can be perceived as ads in magazines and readers will soon learn to ignore them, so these will likely have minimal impact on the reading experience as well. Other elements, that are developing fast, include adding sound tracks, miniclips or interactive games. These will considerably modify the reading experience in ways that cannot yet be fully understood.

So the debate over whether eBooks will replace print books is a valid debate, since basically both print books and eBooks have the same fundamental function which is to provide readers with books. Whether enhanced eBooks will replace books, whether print or digital, is far less likely since the fundamental differences between eBooks and enhanced eBooks mean they will provide different functions, and enhanced eBooks are no more likely to replace print books than movies.

On the contrary, enhanced eBooks might lure movie aficionados back to reading books by providing them with an incentive to actually open a book, albeit enhanced…

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2 Responses to "Print Books vs. eBooks vs. enhanced eBooks"

  1. I think the concept of choice will soon be an irrelevant one. Remember vinyl records and how we all said we would never replace them with those new fangled CDs because they just don’t sound the same. Well not only did we replace them we also replaced CDs with MP3s. Did we have a choice? No because the record industry realised the cost-effectiveness of producing CDs over vinyl and once sales reached critical mass they stopped producing records. With Amazon now announcing that ebook sales are outselling print I don’t believe it will be long before we see a number of publishers looking at there figures and saying hang on. I love print books, the smell the feel everything, but at the end of the day it is an object that has to be made. Bytes on the other hand carry no production costs.

  2. I think enhanced eBooks are the way to go. Not really via ads (even though I don’t think people would mind getting free books w/ads) but through other “extras”.
    Want to see the author’s research?
    How about a drawing of the room you’re in?
    What about some more info on an unexplained concept?
    Maybe a scene of a movie the character was thinking about?

    The possibilities are endless.

    Paper books will change as well.
    I think they will become collectibles. Not the books we have today, but a “special edition” of favorite books – leather bound, prestige format pages, a family heirloom, a cherished display.

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