Monday, March 29th, 2010

Enhanced Edition Ebooks: I’m on the Fence

I stole this clip from Enhanced where they rave about enhanced editions ebooks, particularly those that they’ve created.

They list a host of “enhancements” available in their editions which are supposed to make the e-version more desirable than traditional paper…and for which you’re supposed to be willing to pay an additional amount, say $15 instead of $10.

Direct from the web site, here are their enhancements…along with my take in red.

“Enhancement” My Thoughts
Easily switch between type sizes and serif and sans-serif fonts. My eReader of choice already allows this…so, I’m not sure how this qualifies as an enhancement.
Store bookmarks and notes on the text. My eReader of choice already allows this, too…so, again, I’m not sure how this qualifies as an enhancement.
Navigate via pages, chapters and the table of contents. Are they really calling this an enhancement? Because I don’t see how this qualifies either. I admit I’ve purchased a few PDF ebooks which don’t have chapter navigation…but PDF always allows a page view…I can navigate (admittedly a bit awkwardly) but navigate I can, nonetheless.
Keep up to date with your favourite books and authors via the in-app news feed. Okay: They got me here.  The books I’ve bought so far don’t offer this. But I’m wondering: do I need their dedicated reader to use this option?
Read reviews and articles about the book. I read my reviews and articles BEFORE I purchase the book.  Why would I be interested in them after I made the sale?  And, I can already get that stuff free on the ‘net. Now…critical essays about the book, that’s another story…
Quickly and clearly search the full text of the book. Sorry, I can do this now.
Turn on tilt scrolling to move the page with a flick of your wrist. This might be useful if you’re trying to read one-handedly…but I can read one-handedly on my device with no problem, using just a finger tap to turn the page.  A wrist-flick seems so…inefficient, and painful, after a while.
Watch exclusive videos shot with the authors. (Selected Title Only) This would be cool….as long as it’s new footage, and not a re-hash of something I can get on YouTube.
Change the type orientation and reading options, and remember your personal settings. I can do this now with my current eReader, so how is it an enhancement?
Listen to exclusive soundtracks and extracts, or switch to the complete audiobook edition. I like the audiobook option.  In fact, I love it….with a two-plus hour commute daily, I’ve been listening to more audio books.

Perhaps I’m being overly critical, particularly with the navigation thing, but even if you count that, I see only four real “enhancements” out of the ten they’re touting:

  • Enhanced Navigation (Still, imo, a gimme.)
  • Keep Up to Date with Authors via Newsfeed
  • Author Interviews
  • Audio built in

If I want author news, I can always check the Web myself. And, depending on how Enhanced Editions sets up their newsfeed, I might actually get more news if I do the search myself.

The included author interviews will be stale after a few months. Again, I can probably find these on the web.

Now the built in audio…that’s a plus. That’s the one I really, really like. And it might make me spend the extra $5. Maybe.

You’ve heard from me. What’s your two cents?

8 comments to Enhanced Edition Ebooks: I’m on the Fence

  • It all depends on whether the enhancement actually makes it easier… a lot of things are small improvements but really are improvements… but I would not like to buy a specific reader just to find out if there is really an enhancement.

    I don’t have a reader yet. If my paycheck gets any larger, I’ll be getting one, as discussed elsewhere… not a Kindle, Nook, or other major brand, although I may reconsider my current choice if the new readers from ASUS due this year really rock.

    • Hi Moss! Thanks for stopping by! You’re so right about enhancements should make things easier. I hadn’t given it any thought from that point of view.

      Of course…the reader software is going to have a whole lot of play into this: there are quite a few apps out there for regular PCs and IPods which do eBooks great. Stanza, for instance, has a lot of the capability discussed in the article.

      Thanks for the ease-ability perspective!

  • Great post, and I totally agree with you. The enhancements listed are available on many other readers and not new technology. I’m with you, I think I would spend the extra money for the audio because I have bad vision and sometimes my eyes get so tired, it would be nice to have someone read to me.

    • Hi Ginger! I can think of several uses for audio: driving in the car, cleaning house, even while making dinner. (Think how many more books we could “read” in a single year!)

  • Hi Kelly,

    While a lot of other reading apps do offer some of the same functionality we do, we believe that our extensive backgrounds in publishing and design give us an edge in terms of user experience. As always, though, your mileage may vary.

    As you point out, there are four main advantages we have: tilt, news feed, video and audio. I use tilt quite a lot, especially when I can’t seem to find a seat on the tube. The news feed is actually one of the most popular features in the apps. In Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall app we’ve been using it to keep fans up to date with her tour dates and ticket availability. The video clips are, more often than not, completely exclusive to the app. For Philip Pullman’s The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ app, for instance, we have about 20 minutes of exclusive, intimate Q&A with the author that can’t be found anywhere else.

    Much like you, I think audio is the clincher. The key is the fact that it’s synchronised to the text, which not only means that you can swap from reading to listening without losing your place, but also that there are some really exciting educational possibilities opening up to us. I, for one, think this technology could be immensely useful to help tech-savvy young boys with below-average reading ages.

    For us, the iPhone/iPad offers so much in terms of connectivity and potential enhancements that it’s a really exciting place to be.

    • Hi Eoin! Thank you very much for dropping by and commenting.

      It’s good to hear that the included video/interview footage will be exclusive.

      I’m going to drop by the app store today and pick up Kim Harrison’s Black Magic Sanction. I *am* willing to give Enhanced Editions a shot. I have the Ipod Touch, not the iPhone, so it will be interesting to see if functionality differs. I’ll post again once I’ve finished reading.

      Thanks again!

  • Hi Kelly,

    It’s always great to connect with other people who read on digital devices, we’re all in it together!

    There’s a free sampler version of Black Magic Sanction, so why don’t you try that to see if you like the way it all works. It has the first chapter, with synchronised audio, access to the news feed and a video.

    That one was released in February, though, so the news feed’s not so contemporary if I’m honest. If Black Magic doesn’t take your fancy I’d really recommend the Pullman, it’s sensational. We’ve also got some more US titles coming out very soon, but they’re hush-hush!

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