Thanks to the device penetration behind tablets, there have been a lot of attempts at innovating ebooks over the years to include special “enhancements.” The additional features have included animation, images that can be manipulated, hyperlinks, social reading that allows your friends to chime in with their thoughts, and even soundtracks to play along with the text. As many startups have learned the hard way, though, a lot of book lovers felt that these features are nothing more than a bells-and-whistles distraction that actually pulls them out of the book.
But when New York Times bestselling author Patricia Cornwell wanted to re-release her 2002 title Portrait of a Killer, she wanted more than just a static words-on-a-page experience. She reached out to Jeff Belle, Vice President of Amazon Publishing, to see what their creative team had in mind, and the end result was a Kindle In Motion edition of Ripper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert (2017).
“I sought out Amazon because I believe the Ripper book lends itself to a high-tech ebook format that’s not really been done,” said Cornwell in an interview with GoodEReader. “I want to give people an opportunity to examine the evidence for themselves.”
Building onto the content of Cornwell’s previous book, the new 570-page edition includes eight additional chapters and hundreds of photographs, letters, sketches, and more. There are fun yet subtle animations like flickering candles or moving shadows, but otherwise the real innovation is in the ability to get up close and personal with the photographs, art works, and more.
“The thing that’s amazing about this Amazon ebook is not only can you examine about 800 hundred images, they have made it extremely appealing with the animation. The book is exciting. When you look at it, it comes alive. It’s an investigative tool for those who want to read it and work the case themselves.”
For the paper purists, Thomas and Mercer released a print edition that Cornwell calls stunning, although that was never her intention for this new release.
“The plan for this book was not the print version… it was all about having an amazing ebook. They’ve done a magnificent job, it’s subtle but it’s evocative and it’s moody. It’s just perfect. But what it really made me think is, ‘I’m not so sure you can’t do this with novels, too.’ It’s a new way to tell stories.”
One of the most interesting aspects to this collaboration between Cornwell and Amazon Publishing is–according to the author herself–that the Kindle In Motion format puts the bulk of her research into the public’s hands, turning the case over to those who are invested in uncovering its outcome.
“I think that whenever you give people images, when they can look at the real image, you don’t know what someone’s going to find… I’m encouraging people, and I think the ebook is my big open invitation to the world: Jack the Ripper is yours now. Please tell me what you think.”
Cornwell is continuing her work in the popular Scarpetta series, and is currently writing the twenty-fifth book in the series. She sees the potential for this level of enhancement in novels, and is open to the concept of a Kindle In Motion edition of her fiction works.