The arrival of ePub 3 will undoubtedly see a rush from publishers to make maximum use of its whistles and bells. Will fiction publishers be falling over themselves to produce media rich content? While I can see the temptation to add video author interviews or even authors reading chapters, my concern will be adding multi-media content just because we can, not because it is actually needed or adds anything to the publication. Platforms such as Vook have been around for a while and have set an entry level for media-rich eBooks, with ePub 3 opening the door too many more of us there could be a similar rush to provide content similar to the rush to provide eBook apps. Everyone is crazy to do them but who the heck is actually buying them.
At present the embryonic market for plain old text eBooks is slowly taking off and establishing itself in the minds of the consumer. I think the next area of development should be expanding that understanding, association and eCommerce platform, to be more accessible in our stores in the high street and not to get carried away with product which will inevitably push the price of eBooks up. I think this step could further alienate a budding market which could if left to embrace eBooks could blossom into a market which could bring a new revenue stream to the high street book shop as well as the Internet.
I am not for one moment suggesting we don’t develop media rich content but what I am saying is that we not in our haste ignore ways to ensure that eBooks not only reach a wider audience but that they sit as comfortably in book shops as their paper brothers and sisters. Stores sell eReaders, why don’t they have digital libraries which consumers can browse and purchase from – maybe even giving the option to buy a linked purchase of the physical paper copy with the digital one?
eBooks and digital publishing is the future but I do wonder if the industry is losing association with its roots in the high street and if, maybe an opportunity is being ignored.