There’s always something new in e-publishing these days … and now it’s the “vook.” As the NY Times reports, Simon & Schuster is working “with a multimedia partner to release four ‘vooks,’ which intersperse videos throughout electronic text that can be read — and viewed — online or on an iPhone or iPod Touch.” And the article poses the Big Question of whether the attraction of vooks to “modern readers” will lead to material that “ultimately degrades the act of reading.”
What a great question. E-books are simple enough — they’re still books; you just turn them on instead of opening them up. But when it comes to multimedia books, it does seem to be more about the video than the text. But the question is: are these drawing readers away from reading, or attracting video people to reading? And some of them are simply more instructional than anything: one of the Simon & Schuster vooks, for example, is a fitness title that demonstrates the exercises.
Personally, I like my reading straight (I don’t even like to watch movie versions of books, most of the time). But then, that’s pretty old-fashioned these days. And electronic devices are not only not going anywhere but are only going to become more interactive and innovative. This post on Booksquare looks at e-books in the marketplace and makes a good point about publishers not releasing e-versions of books until after the hardcover: “People, please. Get over yourselves. Yes, the ebook will drain away some hardcover sales — many of those customers are already lost to you. They choose ebooks for their own convenience, not yours. There is absolutely no evidence that withholding the ebook will encourage ebook readers to purchase the hardcover instead. None. Zilch. Nada. Not one iota. Zippo. It’s more likely that withholding the ebook version will result in a lost sale.”
And e-books might get even hotter with the upcoming holiday season … as the LA Times reports, an online survey shows that one in five shoppers plan to buy an electronic book reader this year.
I’m all for e-books and what they can offer, but it’s still a tough call for me personally, even as co-owner of a Kindle. For example, after seeing an awesome poetry lecture last weekend, I got in the mood to read Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, which, to my horror, I don’t own (or at least can’t find anywhere amid the ridiculous number of books around here). I can download it free on my Kindle, or buy a copy in my local bookstore. Still haven’t decided.