Frank Fiore – Novelist & Screenwriter

February 20, 2012

The News of Enhanced eBook Apps Death has been Greatly Exaggerated

Filed under: Frank Remarks,On Writing — Frank Fiore @ 12:32 PM
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Recently, Bloomsbury’s Evan Schnittman, who, at this year’s London Book Fair announced that enhanced ebook apps were dead.

According to this Futurebook article, his exact quote was, “Enhanced will have an incredibly big future in education, but the idea of innovating in the narrative reading process is just a non-starter, I’ve been smug, and now I’m even smugger.”

Yep. And they said that about ebooks, ebook readers, and the Beatles (“Guitar groups are on the way out…the Beatles have no future in show business.” —Dick Rowe, head of Decca Records, 1962)

But there are two problems with enhanced eBooks that need to be addressed.

First, discoverability.

Let’s face it. Trying to gain visibility among these of apps out here is virtually impossible. BUT, that being said, as ReadWriteWeb points out, there are already apps to help users deal with too many apps.

There’s the Yahoo App Search, AppBrain and Windows Phone for examples.

The second problem is the cost of creating the app.  Producing on can be prohibitively expensive. But there’s a cure for that problem. The concept of the Freemium ads in books.

Crazy? Will never work? I beg to differ. History proves otherwise.

If you want to see the future, go back in time: see Galleycat’s brief history shows that ads in books aren’t new.

Peter Lebensold explained “the earliest Penguin paperbacks (published for British servicemen during WWII) also had ads — for the likes of Gillette.”

There’s an excellent piece about the topic. In it, Weldon defended the practice: “It always seemed to me that in advertising you were making up little stories and using language to sell products. And with novels you were making up little stories and using language to sell ideas. So for a while I sold products and then I moved on and sold ideas — like feminism. And now I’ve done a book that is mostly one but a little bit of the other.”

Amazon is already flirting with the idea but from the wrong direction. They are discounting the price of their platform – the Kindle eReader – instead of the actual content – the book.

But that will change when ads in electronic books become the norm and new economic model will be established.


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