enhanced ebookA lot of people are talking about eBooks these days. And while a lot of the conversation seems to hover around a handful of examples, it’s great to hear that people are discussing eBook functionality and how it can and should vary.

Regular eBook

A regular eBook is simply a book you publish in electronic format, with no special bells or whistles. Many people tend to push these eBooks out in PDF format, but professionals like us know that a PDF is not a good format for reading long-form content. If you want your content to be read anywhere but the desktop web – say on a Kindle, Nook, iPad, iPhone, Android phone or tablet – then you are going to want to convert your eBook into .mobi format (for the Kindle) and .epub (for everywhere else). I know, I know. The .mobi format is older than sin itself. Kindle has a proprietary format you can use, but ONLY if you plan on selling your book commercially through the Kindle store. For all other forms of eBooks, .mobi is the way to go, even though this document format was originally created to support the Palm Pilot back in the day.

Enhanced eBook

An enhanced eBook typically includes all or some of the following elements:

  • Hidden searchable text
  • Collapsible table of contents
  • Rich media features including audio, video, and interactivity
  • Internal linking – footnotes/annotations/cross references/indexes
  • External linking – geolocation/directions/associated websites/social media sites

The hallmark of an enhanced eBook is that the book itself must take advantage of enhanced functionality built into the epub3 standard.

Interactive eBook

interactive ebookMeanwhile, an interactive eBook goes beyond mere enhancement to allow you to “enable users to interact with the storyline in sight, sound, and touch. I like to think of interactive eBooks as an evolution of the printed book with added interactivity in order to create an experience beyond the printed format. Examples of interactive eBooks include pop-up book apps for kids, interactive travel guides that utilize the device GPS capabilities, cookbooks with built-in timers and video recipes, or any traditional book that now uses the tablet to enhance the experience with interactivity.” (Source: UX Magazine | Avi Itzkovitch, April 2012).

The difference between an enhanced eBook and an interactive one can seem nuanced until you think it through in terms of the user experience. Take GPS capabilities. Both eBooks can leverage GPS. An enhanced eBook would allow you to jump out of a travel guide and see where you are. An interactive eBook would change the content on the page based on where GPS says you are – creating a different experience for you on the page. In other words, an interactive eBook is an example of dynamic publishing in action. Which means that interactive eBooks will be coming to business settings sometime in the very near future.

Oh, yes. In case, you are wondering. We do eBooks for our clients in all shapes and sizes. Regular. Enhanced. Interactive. If you have an eBook need don’t hesitate to contact us for assistance in developing the content, converting it on the backend, and enhancing your content with the appropriate interactivity.

Val Swisher
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