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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Could textbooks become “textvooks”?

Last week, Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, released four "vooks" or e-books that incorporate video and can be viewed online or on an Apple iPhone/iPod Touch. The website features a video demonstration of a vook that shows how digital books can be enhanced with how-to videos, demonstrations, or videos to supplement the story. For example, a cookbook could include videos to show how to make the recipes. Vooks are also fully integrated with social networks so users can connect with friends while reading and watching.

An article from The New York Times features commentary from Judith Carr, a publisher of Atria Books, on this new idea, “Everybody is trying to think about how books and information will best be put together in the 21st century. You can’t just be linear anymore with your text.” While some publishers and authors believe that enhancing books with videos and incorporating new technologies is necessary, others believe that a hybrid model could degrade the reading experience. Author, Walter Mosley commented, Reading is one of the few experiences we have outside of relationships in which our cognitive abilities grow. And our cognitive abilities actually go backwards when we’re watching television or doing stuff on computers.”

A posting from the Gizmodo blog notes that Apple is also working to create a new type of hybridized media to redefine textbooks, newspapers, and magazines. The initial content for the anticipated Apple tablet will likely be digital books but the goal is to have publishers create content that incorporates audio, video, and interactive graphics. There are already some versions of interactive textbooks available today but this technology will likely become more advanced in the coming years to provide students with a new way of learning.

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