Just as the world is just starting to warm up to the idea of e-books, it appears there’s a new nemesis of the old-fashioned book: the “vook“. It’s a digital hybrid of book and video, offering supplemental videos alongside the book’s text, which can be accessed through the internet or on hand-held mobile devices. It’s the brainchild of US-based Vook, a start-up who believes that its product is the future of reading. Take a look at Vook’s promotional video:
The new medium has been adopted by Atria, an imprint of Simon and Schuster. Judith Curr, Executive VP and Publisher for Atria says in an interview that she thinks vooks represent an aspect of publishing for the 21st century. She says that “this is a wonderful way to be able to tell a new story without the huge expense of making a major movie.” Vooks offer the possibility to add atmospheric qualities, tell a back story, show photographs. They The publishers already have four vooks ready for purchase: romance novel “Promises“, fitness book “The 90 Second Fitness Solution“, thriller “Embassy” and health book “Return to Beauty“. Here’s the trailer for “Embassy”:
The Week asked “Will anyone read vooks?” and quoted Dave Rosenthal from The Baltimore Sun as saying that Simon & Schuster “is moving in the right direction… Just as the Internet opened up sound and video for newspapers, vooks (or whatever else they get called) can broaden the dimensions of the printed page… [and] this is just the start of the book’s evolution, so let’s see where the technology can take us.”
Not convinced? You’re not alone. Last week, the New York Times ran a story entitled “Curling Up With Hybrid Books, Videos Included” which offered some insight into vooks. They quote Tufts University professor and author Maryanne Wolf:
I agree with Wolf. Vooks cater to – and perhaps even encourage – attention-short reading. Whatever happened to using your imagination to envision characters in a book? And those who prefer visual media would sooner watch a DVD than super-cheesy, low-budget video clips. Adding videos to books cheapens the whole experience of reading a novel.
On the other hand, I could see this medium extending itself well to fitness books, cookbooks and other instructional texts where accompanying video would help to communicate the books’ advice. But please, let’s draw the line there!
International users of the new Kindle will have a slightly smaller collection of around 200,000 English-language books to choose from, and their catalogs will be tailored to the country they purchased the device in. Amazon said it would sell books from a range of publishers including Bloomsbury, Hachette, HarperCollins, Lonely Planet and Simon & Schuster.
Planning on jumping on the e-book/vook bandwagon?