Multimedia e-books

News, trends, and the future of publishing

Multimedia e-books

Postby Ryan » 22 Sep 2011, 12:49

Thought I'd share what I've been learning on the multimedia e-book front. At the beginning of the year, we began building my multimedia memoir in a framework known as the Baker Framework (http://bakerframework.com/). As the year progressed I realized there was no way I could finish the last details of the print book, regular e-book, design the website, finish the videos, and do all the million little things associated with Indie publishing a book, so I pushed back the iPad version. It turns out that was a great thing because the Baker Framework is not the best way to go.

A multimedia book using the Baker Framework is sold as an App. Apparently consumers are not finding the books because they are lumped into the gazillion Apps on the market. My book would have been competing with a Fart Sound App instead of being categorized on a 'book shelf' under memoirs. Now that we know this, the book will be created using EPUB the same way regular e-books are programmed. By doing this my book can be sold where books are sold in the iStore. Putting stuff off can be good sometimes! :)

I just received this email from Amanda of Digital Bindery (http://www.digitalbindery.com/) explaining the format she will be using.
I am going to create an enhanced EPUB 2 that will be more like EPUB 2.5 with EPUB 3 architecture built in so that it will be useable on all of the tablets (including Nook Color, the Galaxy, etc) and be EPUB 3 compliant. So, while it will be technically both EPUB 2 and EPUB 3, I wouldn’t market it as an EPUB 3 yet because it may confuse more people than it attracts since EPUB 3 hasn’t been widely adopted yet and we don’t want people to think they won’t be able to view it on their device. The book will be sold in the iBooks store under Enhanced Editions.

With the technology available today, one can record quality video very easily. Many of you are releasing books with a niche market. I see Yoga books, self-help books, auto books, etc. These are perfect for a multimedia e-book. Most of the top sellers at Vook (vook.com) are non-fiction practical books. There would be more investment associated with production than a normal e-book but once it's done it's done.

I'll share more as things progress. Hoping to launch in a month.

Ryan
My love of fly fishing and surfing connects me to rivers and the ocean. Time with water reminds me to pursue those silly little streams of thought that run rampant in my head.
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Re: Multimedia e-books

Postby Nathan Bransford » 24 Sep 2011, 17:41

Awesome, thanks for sharing!
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Re: Multimedia e-books

Postby rojerronny » 27 Sep 2011, 06:18

I think it depends on your audience. As Wes says, language is a problem, but so is the level they are teaching. Some things that benefit from the extension study words and other pictures and / or video, and some of them. I would not try to learn programming from video tutorials to take an example.
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Re: Multimedia e-books

Postby Ryan » 28 Sep 2011, 11:15

Your welcome Nathan. Maybe Mr. Jacob will be animated one day for some shorts in a multimedia version which will lead to a full blown movie....

Glad I didn't use the Baker Framework because it wouldn't work on the Kindle Fire. :)
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Re: Multimedia e-books

Postby Mira » 07 Oct 2011, 13:20

Wow. Multi-media possiblities with books are really exciting! :D
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Re: Multimedia e-books

Postby sbaird42 » 10 Oct 2011, 08:41

I'm very excited to watch how this area of publishing advances. I think there are a lot of incredible things we could do with books and multimedia that we aren't currently doing, especially as we move to a tablet world. I had some thoughts recently about this. Tell me what you think.

It seems like most attempts so far in the "enhanced" multimedia ebook arena fall into two categories: hyper-illustrated picture books with simple motion graphics and some limited interactivity with the pictures in the page, or full-blown attempts to gamify books, where the book becomes a sort of stilted video-game instead of a book. I don't think either way is a good approach for interactive ebooks. The hyper-illustrated books are all right for kids, I guess (I haven't bought any and don't know much about them). But you're not going to take the world of novels by storm with a few motion graphics and sound effects. The videogame-books aren't going to work out well, either, because they'll end up being compared with videogames in price, production quality, and level of engagement. They'll lose that battle in most cases. I can't see mass appeal for a new book that's really a videogame but with a fraction of the production budget and with much more limited interactivity.

Books should stay true to the experience of reading a book, and not stray into what games do better. The experience should still be that of reading the text of a story, which lets your imagination do the heavy lifting. Illustrations in novels should be minimal, since they can be distracting and jarring if overdone with motion and sound. I think the interactivity should come from hyperlinks in the text that pop up additional and very optional information to enhance the story. Proper nouns could be hyperlinked to open details and pictures (so illustrations are all hidden within pop-ups, not interrupting the flow of the narrative unless you want them to). References to prior events could hyperlink you to the paragraph or chapter where they happened. Characters names could have a short bio and picture in case you forgot who they were or just wanted to check a detail you've learned about them. Place names could open a map. There could be unlockable hidden chapters, etc.

The bottom line is that these interactive ebooks would still be books, and would avoid the huge investments in multimedia that define movies, comics, and videogames, but would enhance the reading experience in subtle ways that draw you into the fictional world more.
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Re: Multimedia e-books

Postby Ryan » 11 Oct 2011, 10:44

I totally agree sbaird42. I borrowed a friend's iPad to see what was out there and found a multimedia version of War of the Worlds. It was totally overdone and felt like a video game. Too much onscreen movement is distracting and like you said, having a choice on whether or not to take part in the extras is a good idea. A reader may just want to read and then come back to the extra stuff later. There is some pretty cool stuff out there for kids that a librarian/teacher friend has showed me. Choose your own adventure and really interactive stuff that's all story driven.

The reviews for multimedia fiction (adult) has been pretty mixed. Most people want to use their imagination. They don't want to watch low budget shorts. That said, I think low budget can work for memoir because the homegrown feel is part of it. Even though a lot of Greg Mortenson's facts were debunked in his books, Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools, the fact remains he has still done some amazing things. Those books would have been killer in a multimedia format. Maps, raw footage, audio clips, and slideshows, would have all added to the written word.

When I first started my project five years ago, I thought I'd edit a few videos and toss it up on the book's website for my readers. I had shot sixty plus hours of video while teaching and living in New Zealand so I figured to use it somehow. :) As time went along, I started editing really tight shorts to go along with specific parts of the book and now, there's technology to deliver everything in one package. As I worked I repeated told myself that the book must stand on its own as the primary storytelling device and not to rely on the videos.

Finding a balance in the multimedia ebook has been fun. It always comes back to "What's my message or spine?" If I put this in there then what am I trying to say or convey? I think creators can get trigger happy with bells and whistles and forget about the story. Sometimes my videos build on the emotion of the moment and they are very personal. Sometimes they give more information in a short doc-style video.

In addition to two dozen videos (40 minutes total) I've added 15 second chapter intros to the multimedia version. Very simple acoustic guitar, voice over quote from the chapter's text, and a picture or video clip. Think about how much we stare at the little pen and ink drawings at the beginning of the chapter. Hopefully readers will find the intros interesting and pertinent to what they are about to read. I'm almost set to hand everything over to the designer so she can put it all together. I'm excited to see how it all "feels" in its complete form. Below are links to one of my favorite videos and I uploaded a couple chapter intros. Let me know what you think. All the videos on Youtube and Vimeo have a branding sequence in the beginning and end that I will remove for the multimedia e-book. Cheers.

No way a multimedia memoir taking place in New Zealand could get away without a video about sheep!
http://youtu.be/lMDvIEYapR8

Chapter 10 and 11 Video Intros
http://youtu.be/BQjCf5iMG1U
My love of fly fishing and surfing connects me to rivers and the ocean. Time with water reminds me to pursue those silly little streams of thought that run rampant in my head.
http://www.withoutrain.com/
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Re: Multimedia e-books

Postby Nathan Bransford » 30 Oct 2011, 09:22

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Re: Multimedia e-books

Postby Ryan » 03 Nov 2011, 08:51

These articles reaffirm my thoughts....

Fancy bells and whistles mean nothing if the tune sucks.

It's all about content.
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Re: Multimedia e-books

Postby DaveJJ » 09 Jan 2012, 13:39

Well if it's something like yoga then yeah it needs to be filled with multimedia such as pics and videos but most stories don't need to be.

Do you have a blog Ryan where you share what you're learning as you publish? I would like to publish but don't really know where to get started.
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Re: Multimedia e-books

Postby Ryan » 13 Jan 2012, 12:52

Hey Dave

Well if it's something like yoga then yeah it needs to be filled with multimedia such as pics and videos but most stories don't need to be.


Yeah. The medium lends itself best to nonfiction instructional topics such as cooking, automotive, sports, etc. Of course I am biased because of my project, but I also think that multimedia will add a lot of depth to memoirs. A lot of found footage and content is already available for the subject whether it be a famous person or any person who has a good story to share. Generating the video and multimedia content is a lot tougher for fiction.

Do you have a blog Ryan where you share what you're learning as you publish?


I do have a blog and I have a few posts about my process but most of what I've learned about multimedia ebooks is in this thread. As I stated in an earlier post, Epub 3 will have plenty of power to drive most multimedia ebooks and it will work across platforms. Some multimedia books such as Al Gore's book were built as an App because it had so many bells and whistles. I hope to put a comprehensive post together about all this sooner than later but it will probably be later with all that is going on. Hopefully the multimedia version of my book will be out soon. Lots of technical stuff with the videos to work through.
http://www.withoutrain.com/category/blog/

I would like to publish but don't really know where to get started.


You can get started by reading and downloading some of Dave G's stuff. Everything he says is pretty much right on. http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/
I'm using the Lightning Source POD model for print books. Aaron Shepard has a bunch of books out on the subject. http://www.newselfpublishing.com/blog/

Take the time to work on your book. Don't rush it. Do everything that a professional publisher would do. That's my three cents about about self pubbing for now.

Good luck and hope some of that helps.

Cheers
Ryan

**By the way...vook.com is now a conversion service. They are no longer producing and distributing multimedia ebooks. Not sure why but I think producing multimedia content is tough. It takes a lot of time and time is money!**http://www.the-digital-reader.com/2011/10/04/vook-a-publisher-no-more/
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http://www.withoutrain.com/
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Re: Multimedia e-books

Postby Ryan » 21 Mar 2012, 16:43

Something I just learned. Even though Kindle Fire and Nook Color support videos, the reading program, the one you would use to view and read books DOES NOT support video. I don't understand what Amazon and B&N are thinking (not thinking?) because they sell Enhanced Editions in their stores. So if my multimedia book is purchased by someone with those devices then they will have to hyperlink out of the "book" into Safari to view the videos.

I would imagine it's a few pages of programming if that so someone tell Amazon and B&N to send out an Update....

Go iPad!
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Re: Multimedia e-books

Postby Ryan » 15 Nov 2012, 13:07

A recent article on Wired.com about multimedia books. A friend forwarded the link to me and said, "Hey Dude. You know your book was mentioned in this article..."
:P Sweet As.

http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2012/10/transmedia-novels/
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Re: Multimedia e-books

Postby Quill » 15 Nov 2012, 16:29

Ryan wrote:A recent article on Wired.com about multimedia books. A friend forwarded the link to me and said, "Hey Dude. You know your book was mentioned in this article..."
:P Sweet As.


Sweet indeed, Ryan. A nice plug for you. Your book is definitely on the cutting edge, I believe.
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