Wednesday, February 8, 2012

WSJ Wednesdays

Is it really Wednesday already? It's a busy week and next week is going to be crazier. I have to be at school four out of five days for a variety of things.

WSJ Wednesdays might be my favorite feature of the week. I do my best to stick to topics that are not controversial, though those topics are fun too. Here's something I find neat and exciting for the world of publishing.

When I saw this article in the January 20, 2012 edition of The Wall Street Journal, I knew I had to blog about it. Appearing on the front page of the Friday Journal section, "Blowing Up the Book" by Alexandria Alter discusses the wonderful technology available for book lovers. I'm not talking eReaders, I'm talking digital books that come loaded with videos, songs, animated shorts and pop-up graphics. Even a technology dummy like me can appreciate this.

The photo that takes up two-thirds of the page features Harry Potter, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the Cat in the Hat from Dr. Seuss, Elvis and Bob Marley. Talk about a powerhouse. Here's the scoop on these particular books:

  • Harry Potter eBooks will be available on a website titled Pottermore. The site is currently in Beta, but you can watch a video from J.K. Rowling that talks all about the site. I haven't read a single Harry Potter book, but now I might so I can get involved in Pottermore. It sounds fascinating
  • Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis - An enhanced eBook holds over eight hours of recorded conversations between the first lady and Arthur Schlesinger Jr. It also includes photos and archival videos.
  • Bob Marley fans will be treated to poetry and lyrics compiled by his daughter, Cedella. It will also include family photos and links to his music.
  • Peter Guralnick's Careless Love biography of Elvis will be rereleased, including extras like videos, music clips and interviews.
  • The photo of the Cat in the Hat mentions the continued popularity of Dr. Seuss. The bubble states, "More than one million Dr. Seuss children's-book apps have sold on Apple devices in the last two years."
I find this last one especially exciting for the children's book market. The last stats I had seen about eBooks for this market were less than impressive. Evolving technology certainly seems to have made an impact. My girls read printed and eBooks. Printed books are still the norm for them, but more and more they are using their iPods or my Kindles to read.

Alter mentions in her article that some remain skeptical that readers will pay more for extra features or they do not want these digital extras interrupting their reading experience. According to the article, eBook publisher Jane Friedman, CEO of Open Road Media, states consumers aren't asking for these extras. She says, "It takes it from being a reading experience to something else, and we are publishers."

I see Friedman's point, but I have to disagree. Kids of today have been brought up in a world where information is at their fingertips, TV can be on 24/7, and their gaming options are almost endless. It seems the kids who own cell phones and iPods are getting younger and younger. The Lil Diva (10) began bugging me for a cell phone before she was eight. She still doesn't have one, but Santa brought her and the Lil Princess (8) their own iPods because literally all of their close friends have one. This has allowed them to stay in touch with their friends even if they can't have a play date. I've also found some educational apps, that I'm not opposed to them playing.

What do you think of enhanced eBooks?  Are they fascinating or too much? If you had to wager a guess, what would be the next big technology break in publishing?

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