NY publisher releases Deveraux novel as video book

Oct 01, 2009 By HILLEL ITALIE , AP National Writer
In this video screen image released by Simon & Schuster, the title page for the online video book, "Promises," by Jude Devereaux, is shown. "Promises" is one of four online video books being published Thursday by Simon & Schuster in collaboration with Vook, a San Francisco-based startup that integrates text, video and social networking. (AP Photo/Simon & Schuster)

(AP) -- The latest novel from best-selling romance author Jude Deveraux isn't exactly a book. "Promises" is a reading and viewing experience, a digital text in which videos not only complement the narrative but add to it.

"Promises" is one of four online video books being published Thursday by Simon & Schuster Inc. in collaboration with Vook, an Emeryville, Calif.-based startup that integrates text, video and social networking.

Deveraux's novel, a romance-mystery set on a 19th-century South Carolina plantation, runs 131 pages, punctuated with 17 short videos, including images of the plantation and of a young soldier running through the woods, Simon & Schuster says.

"This is not a substitute for print, but we see the role of the publisher changing from being a book publisher only to offering different ways to tell stories and convey ideas," says Ellie Hirschhorn, chief digital officer of New York-based Simon & Schuster, which is releasing the video texts through its Atria Books imprint.

Also coming out Thursday are Richard Doetsch's thriller "Embassy" and a pair of nonfiction works: Pete Cerqua's "The 90-Second Fitness Solution" and Narine Nikogosian's "Return to Beauty," which offers advice on skin care and diet.

For centuries, the essence of the reading experience has been the mind creating its own pictures, but bringing books and videos together has become attractive, if not yet lucrative, to publishers as book sales suffer and reading shifts from paper to the screen.

Vook founder Brad Inman said Internet video exists throughout the news and entertainment businesses and it would be "arrogant to think that publishing is exempt."

Disney Publishing, Scholastic Inc. and the Perseus Book Group are some of the publishers experimenting with multiplatform texts, which combine words, audio, video and Internet links. Promotional videos and online video interviews have become increasingly common. The impact on sales is still undetermined, but Randy Pausch's million-selling "The Lecture," a Hyperion book about the Carnegie Mellon University professor's last talk to students as he faced death from pancreatic cancer, began as a video that became an online sensation.

Executives at Simon & Schuster and Vook acknowledge that guidance for such everyday activities as exercise and cooking makes for an easier fit with video than does a work of fiction. The novelist is accustomed to working only in words, while chefs, trainers and dietitians often have parallel careers in publishing and on television.

"I would say that in fiction we're like Lewis and Clark, stuck in Missouri and we don't know where we're going," Inman says. "With the how-to books, it's pretty obvious that we're a lot farther along. We're close to the Oregon border."

Bob Miller, publisher of HarperStudio, a HarperCollins imprint, which also has plans to release video books, says he thinks there will be a market for video books, sometimes called vooks, but it will take years of experimentation to determine what kind people might want to read and watch.

"It's easier to imagine cookbooks that include a video demo of each recipe, for instance, than a novel with dramatized scenes," he said.

Much of the work on the Atria books was done over the summer, with the two video novels written specifically, and quickly, for the video project. Cerqua's video book adds video to an abridged text of a traditional book released last year, while "Return to Beauty" eventually will come out as a paper book, with pictures instead of video.

The new books cannot be downloaded through such leading e-book devices as the Kindle or the Sony Reader, neither of which can handle video. They can be purchased through standalone applications for the iPhone and iPod touch or through the Web sites of Simon & Schuster and Vook.

Video books are unlikely to become standard in the near future if only because of the expense of filming. Executives at Vook and Simon & Schuster would not say how much it cost to shoot video for the four books, although Inman says the budget for an individual title was less than $100,000.

The suggested price for each vook is admittedly low, $6.99, which is $3 less than for top-selling e-books. Hirschhorn says any adjustment in cost, up or down, depends on initial sales.

"This is not for every writer, and it's not for every book, but I think it's important that we try different things and see what's working and what isn't," Hirschhorn says.

Inman says publishers realize they have to take some risks to lure readers but not everyone is in favor of video books.

"I've walked into meetings with publishers," he said, "and the people there say, 'You're insane.'"

---

On the Net:

Simon & Schuster: http://www.simonandschuster.com/aboutvook

Vook: http://www.vook.com

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Digital dilemma: How will US respond to Sony hack?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Publisher warms to Scribd store

Jun 12, 2009

(AP) -- The publisher of Stephen King and Chelsea Handler will be selling books through Scribd, the online document-sharing service that the industry has criticized for enabling the downloading of pirated ...

The latest craze: Free e-books offerings

Aug 07, 2009

(AP) -- James Patterson's latest best seller, "The Angel Experiment," is a little different from his usual hits. The novel isn't new; it came out four years ago. Its sales aren't happening at bookstores, ...

Amazon.com buys Stanza e-book app maker Lexcycle

Apr 28, 2009

(AP) -- Kindle e-book retailer Amazon.com Inc. has purchased Lexcycle, a year-old company that makes the iPhone e-book application Stanza, in a move that ratchets up Amazon's presence in the electronic book market.

Coolerbooks.com gets 1M books from Google scans

Sep 02, 2009

(AP) -- Interead, a British company that sells the COOL-ER e-book reader, is adding more than 1 million free public-domain books to its online bookstore. The texts are available from Google Inc. through its ...

Sony e-book reader gets 500,000 books from Google

Mar 19, 2009

(AP) -- Google Inc. is making half a million books, unprotected by copyright, available for free on Sony Corp.'s electronic book-reading device, the companies were set to announce Thursday.

Recommended for you

Digital dilemma: How will US respond to Sony hack?

17 hours ago

The detective work blaming North Korea for the Sony hacker break-in appears so far to be largely circumstantial, The Associated Press has learned. The dramatic conclusion of a Korean role is based on subtle ...

UN General Assembly OKs digital privacy resolution

20 hours ago

The U.N. General Assembly has approved a resolution demanding better digital privacy protections for people around the world, another response to Edward Snowden's revelations about U.S. government spying.

Online privacy to remain thorny issue: survey

21 hours ago

Online privacy will remain a thorny issue over the next decade, without a widely accepted system that balances user rights and personal data collection, a survey of experts showed Thursday.

Spain: Google News vanishes amid 'Google Tax' spat

Dec 16, 2014

Google on Tuesday followed through with a pledge to shut down Google News in Spain in reaction to a Spanish law requiring news publishers to receive payment for content even if they are willing to give it away.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.