Publisher to mesh paper with digital

August 5th, 2006 by Hugh

Publishing giant HarperCollins has announced a deal with iAmplify to offer audio and video content along side books. It will provide free audio interviews as well as paid-for content that adds a new dimension to the words on the printed page. I quote from the press release:

“We are moving towards a new distribution model where content is available to consumers on demand,” Hidary added. “iAmplify provides digital content in any format and on any device – not only to iPods, but also to laptops and cell phones – that consumers can access digitally anytime, anywhere.”

Now imagine just how much more powerful this development would be if readers could swipe a hyperlink in the paper book and be whisked to a multi-media digital experience – for that is exactly the Exbiblio vision.

At the same time, HarperCollins is launching a “browse inside” feature for a range of titles on its website. It’s already including audio extracts (example from Isabel Allende’s Zorro). The browse feature, which aims to give online book-buyers a similar experience to thumbing volumes in an bookshop, was pioneered by Amazon, and emulated more recently by Google Books. It does not quite fulfill the Exbiblio vision of a digital text that a reader can place in a “Life Library”, but it is a significant move by a book publisher in that direction.

Meanwhile the New York Times reports that publishers are using video services such as YouTube to promote books. Companies like Expanded Books will make video promotions for around $4000. Top blog Gawker calls a video trailer for your book, “The hottest new marketing trend.”

Jeff Jarvis, one of the most widely read bloggers, talks of “exploding books” and says “authors are breaking free of paper.” Jarvis is perhaps a little bit too hasty to write the old-fashioned book off just yet (see Penguin’s best selling performance). Another way of looking at this is to say that paper is not “dead wood”, but is finding a new lease of life by becoming integrated with the digital world.

Comments are closed.