The Future Of eBooks

I’ve got 57 ebooks on my Kindle, and in my opinion, that’s 57 wasted opportunities. Publishers seem to think the ebooks are just books without paper, so they don’t add anything to it to make it an irresistible proposition. Like, why not link to relevant online articles, Youtube videos, iTunes pages, websites and blog posts? Books are no longer isolated experiences. If you write a book, you obviously have a story to tell and a message to spread. So why not have a comments section to see what other people think of it?

Recently, I came across an eBook published by Valve Corporation called “Portal 2 – The Final Hours“. It is a glimpse at what eBooks should be.

Inside are links to websites, the previous work of Valve employees, fan-made videos on Youtube, iTunes link of music that inspired their work, multiple panoramas of their offices, user polls, interactive elements, a comments section on the last page, and much, much more.

The links of course add more dimension and value to your eBook, so your customers are more likely to buy from you again. But they are also upsell opportunities. “Oh, so you like this song we used? Here’s a link so you can get it for you iTunes” (speaking of songs, why not create a soundtrack for e-novels? Have music play during intense moments of a story. Seems like it’ll make the book way more awesome.) “Loved the book? Here’s some of the other books we’ve written that will interest you”.

Another thing I like is the comments section. Though it would’ve been better if there had been a comments section (perhaps even a instant messaging program) at the bottom of every page. Wouldn’t you like to know what like-minded people think of what you have just read? It creates a dialogue between your customers with your book as the topic.

My favourite element of Final Hours though, is that half-way through the book they have an opt-in box. Enter your email and get more news on future editions of this ebook and its sequels. Why would I enter my email? Well I just spent my hard-earned cash to buy your book, and I’ve already finished half of your work. I’m obviously a fan, so of COURSE I want to hear more about your stuff. As Seth Godin says, it’s about finding products for your customers, not to find customers for you products. It still surprises me how no major publishers take advantage of the permission and attention readers regularly give them. It’s an asset waiting to be used.

Not once in my 57 eBooks did anyone actually take full advantage of the digital medium and the power of the internet to offer me more value (and leverage more value from me to them as well). People tried to make internet video just like TV, and book publishers are still unaware that ebooks are a completely different medium.

In my eyes, the potential of eBooks to add value, make positive change, and revolutionise the publishing industry is largely untapped.

Your move.

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