The Next Evolution In E-books

Get ready for digital tomes that are a lot more immersive, and a lot less simply scanned in.

Forgive me for going all Jerry Seinfeld, but what’s the deal with e-books?

Instead of harnessing the power of tablets and other mobile devices, we’re often left looking at something that is more or less a scanned-in version of a hard copy book.

At least that’s how I know I felt when I was working on my first ebook, Blogging for Badass Small Businesses. I spent hours worrying about layout and design only to find out I’d have to re-create a stripped down version in Microsoft Word if I wanted to upload to Amazon Kindle. No fancy formatting—no bullet points, special fonts, headers, or footers.

Don’t get me wrong, the faux page turn effect is cool and all and it’s nice to be able to flip through pages with the swipe of a finger, but there’s got to be something more. That’s where the folks from San Francisco-based startup Madefire come in. They’re hoping their new touch-publishing platform Motion Books will help artists and creative types fully embrace the power of mobile devices to create immersive reading experiences.

According to Madefire CEO Ben Wolstenholme, it’s not about throwing technology at digital publishing for technology’s sake—it’s still all about storytelling and the user experience. "Everything should serve the story. With traditional print, readers are pretty much limited to turning a page for a surprise or unexpected reveal. But with mobile devices and e-readers, it’s possible to do so much more" said Wolstenholme. "You can create a specific mood and atmosphere. You can use movement, sound, and visuals to enhance a story without taking away from it" he added.

Rethinking the digital reading experience meant starting as if they didn’t know about print. Based on what they’ve done so far, that mind-set has enabled Madefire to look past the virtual page turn to find new ways to leverage the power of e-readers and mobile devices to create some truly immersive reading experiences. As of now, their focus is on graphic novels and comics, but it’s doesn’t take much to imagine a similar experience coming to more traditional book titles in the very near future.

As more and more books move to mobile devices and we continue to blur the lines between our physical and virtual worlds, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that our stories are only going to become more visual, shorter, and a lot more interactive.

[Image: Flickr user F_lavins]

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