Ebooks part II • 2 July 2010 • The SnowBlog
Ebooks part II
I mentioned in part I how amazing ebooks have the potential to become. Maybe you've played with the extraordinary interactive encyclopedia, The Elements, from Touch Press. Or you've read Alice in Wonderland in iBooks on the iPad, with its moving pictures and shake-able figures. For the novel, the possibilities are interesting, if not earth-shattering, but for the non-fiction book the sky is the limit. Imagine textbooks with test questions after each section. A medium score might trigger a little more explanation, a high score might take you onto the next topic and a terrible score might jump you to some remedial foundation reading. What's more, content could be updated and the tests could contain different questions each time you take them. And I'm picturing embedded video of experiments being performed while simultaneously a table of readings updates and a graph of data points gradually draws itself. Now position the trend line where you think it should go. Touch here to reveal the correct line. Do you know why the line goes there? Touch the answer you think makes most sense from these three possibilities.
Or picture a book about the history of The Beatles with video footage, a soundtrack and interactive elements such as timelines and discographies you can touch to take you to the relevant chapter. Perhaps the book itself reorganises itself based on your interests. A chapter on each member of the group or a chronological retelling of their shared story: you choose. Buy albums, order memorabilia, and check recent Beatles news without leaving the book.
Imagination, and the effort you're prepared to put in, would be the only constraints. Granted, these aren't traditional books we're talking about, but with so few people reading these days, doesn't education - including the ongoing general-knowledge reading that many of us do in our leisure time - need to drag itself out of the nineteenth century?
(And for the ultimate in ebooks - one that can raise our children for us - why not read The Diamond Age. Here's the Kindle store link.) [image courtesy of Amazon]