When my husband got an iPhone, we experimented with reading text on it. Although the screen is tiny, we could see the appeal.
I said, “Do you know what I heard is having a resurgence? Choose Your Own Adventure books. They work really well on an e-reader.”
My Patient Husband perked up. “Oh, that format would work great! It’s just a bunch of links.”
Then I thought–because my own novella is going to be coming out as an ebook this December–if there were any other way to enhance an ebook. The things you hear about most often are advertising and “enhanced content,” like being able to play the song the character is hearing. I think either of those will clutter up a novel, and to be honest, most readers are reading in order to get away from visuals, sounds and marketing.
But how about this? Some novelists re-release a popular book in the “uncut” version, generally containing two hundred pages of material the editor insisted be trimmed. Stephen King did this with The Stand, but I know there have been others.
How about an “enhanced” ebook where for an extra dollar, the reader could unlock the “uncut” novel, inserting the additional material in a different color?
How about allowing the reader to pay an additional dollar to unlock commentary by the writer? Pay a fee, download a code, and suddenly the margins contain chit-chat from the author saying “This actually happened to my own car when I was in college” or “My mother cooks this dish. You start by melting a stick of butter…”
What this model does is sells the base product at a price range most readers would pay, but the “fans,” the ones who would shell out extra for a special edition in the first place, have the option to upgrade. Moreover, if someone reads the book and becomes a fan, that person won’t have to buy a completely new edition in order to access the bonus material.
I don’t think multimedia is the way to go. Writers are good at writing, and readers want to read. It makes sense, therefore, to marry the bonus features to the writer’s strength and the consumer’s inclinations.
I’m excited to see how ebooks change the experience of both writing and reading.