E-books and e-readers arrived on the scene with Project Gutenberg in the 1970s, though not in the form that they are recognized today. Once the modern-era e-book appeared, publishing pundits swore it was the end of the printed word. Predictions about doomed brick-and-mortar bookstores and bankrupt printing houses circulated among those in the industry. At the same time, other naysayers foretold that e-readers were a flash in the pan, that traditionalists would never read a book on a screen.
A smattering of years later, books are still going strong, and e-readers seem to be walking hand-in-hand with them. Last year was the first year that e-books outsold hardcover titles for some retailers, despite the length of time that e-readers have been on the market. And with the adaptations that bookstores are making to keep customers, the American Booksellers Association still boasts over 1,300 member stores; even Borders, the shining example in the media of the death of bookstores, still has over 500 open stores nationwide despite its recent bankruptcy, plus an additional 160 or so open Waldenbooks stores.
Now, innovative indie authors are bringing the newest reading experience to the world of digital publishing, the enhanced e-book. Formatted specifically for the devices and tablets capable of supporting the graphics-intensive files, enhanced e-books are a full multi-media experience contained within the covers of a digital book.
Frank Vitale, whose title The Metropolis Organism is available for purchase through Payloadz, penned a complete reading experience that contains eleven different videos to watch throughout the book, as well as some 200 photographs.
“Even without the videos, a book with that many color photographs would have been impossible. The necessary price point alone would have kept it off the shelves, but with Payloadz, the cost of the photographs is negligible,” remarks Vitale.
Payloadz, a division of PayPal, is a file purchasing site, so anything that can be sold as a download, such as videos, e-books, or music, can be uploaded by the creator and sold through its site. This is an especially attractive option for tech-savvy authors, as the site is free for authors up to the first fifty dollars in sales, then has very reasonable memberships from there. Unlike the sites that will format the authors’ works and make them available, Payloadz is perfect for those authors who don’t need the help of someone to turn a manuscript into a compatible file.
Another formatting option that Vitale employed to make his enhanced e-book more accessible to a wider readership is the book download as an app for iPhones and Android market smartphones, so the entire book can be downloaded without the need for a platform-specific device.
However authors choose to create their enhanced e-books, one thing is certain. The recent buzz from the publishing industry and the introduction of multiple companies that are bringing cloud-based and downloadable enhanced e-books to the market means this is only the beginning of books becoming a total multimedia package.