'Enhanced ebooks' take giant book fair by storm

October 6, 2010 by Richard Carter
Visitors try out various ebook readers on display during the 62nd International Book Fair in Frankfurt am Main, on October 6, 2010. Publishers and authors at the world's biggest book fair are battling to entice a new generation of readers with the latest multimedia products. The 62nd edition of the fair runs from October 6 to 10, 2010. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL ROLAND

Is it a book? Is it a film? Is it a game? Or all three? Publishers and authors at the world's biggest book fair are battling to entice a new generation of readers with the latest multimedia products.

That the has turned the book industry on its head is well known. Younger readers are no longer content to thumb through a printed book. The 21st century iPad generation wants interaction and variety.

But talk of the "ebook" that has dominated the Frankfurt Book Fair in recent years has given way in 2010 to excited chatter about the so-called "enhanced ebook", a mixture of the traditional book, audio, video and game.

"In five years, books will be more often crossmedia products: with embedded sound, animated pictures, Internet links and ... possible a gaming component, like alternative reality games," said Juliane Schulze, from peacefulfish, a consultancy.

Some of the book world's most celebrated names are already embracing the new format.

Ken Follett, one of the industry's hottest authors, is expected to present a "multimedia-enhanced" version of his bestseller "The Pillars of the Earth" at this year's fair.

At the touch of a screen, iPad readers of the "book" can see excerpts from the TV series based on the book, watch interviews with the author and actors and track interactions between characters on an "interactive character tree."

This year's fair has a special section devoted to digital, which Gottfried Honnefelder, president of the German publishers and booksellers association, said could soon account for 10 percent of the market, from one percent today.

Qbend, a firm that helps publishers develop their digital offering, expects 42 percent annual growth for the ebook market between 2010 and 2012.

The enhanced ebook is mainly sold in the United States and Britain at the moment, but it is about to go global, said Andrew Weinstein, vice-president of US book wholesaler and distributor Ingram.

"While ebooks have not finished growing in the United States, they are set to explode in the global marketplace," he said.

Cornelia Funke, one of Germany's best-known authors of books for children, put it this way: "It all starts with a book. The love of reading starts, probably around the age of three, when you first pick up that favourite book."

"In ten years time, that book may well be a screen."

But the counter-revolution is already starting, with advocates of the traditional format saying that people like to have bound books as a keepsake, in the same way they print out and frame favourite photos from their cameras.

"Take the digital watch," said Gordon Cheers, an Australian publisher who presented what he said was the world's biggest book at the fair -- as far from a mobile multimedia offering as could be.

"In the 1980s, everyone said the digital watch would be the end of the traditional watchmaker. Sure, some did go out of business but then analogue watches came back and everyone these days wears one.

"The same will happen with the book. Leave it five or 10 years and books are bound to come back into fashion."

Funke said: "I speak to loads of 16-year-olds who say they only read things on their electronic readers."

"But then they tell me that, for the ones they really love, they go out and buy the book."

Rumours of the death of the book have perhaps been greatly exaggerated.

Explore further: Multimedia creates the buzz at Frankfurt book fair

Related Stories

Multimedia creates the buzz at Frankfurt book fair

October 5, 2010

The world's biggest book fair was inaugurated on Tuesday, with an increased number of exhibitors expected to focus on the digital and multimedia sectors that are rapidly transforming the industry.

No Speeding Reading with eBooks?

July 7, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Many think that ebooks could change the way we interact with the written word. They are convenient, and ereaders provide mobility -- as well as the ability to store thousands of books in a small device. However, ...

Book industry meets over uncertain future

May 30, 2009

Publishers, booksellers and authors are holding a major annual convention in New York this week as the industry reels from a global recession and readers migrate to digital formats.

Japanese publishers organise to discuss e-books

March 24, 2010

Japan's top book publishers Wednesday formed an alliance to harness the growing e-book market as Amazon's Kindle and e-book readers by Sony and other companies are set to battle for market share.

Google to start selling electronic books

May 4, 2010

Google on Tuesday said it will soon begin selling electronic books that people can read on any Internet-connected device including Apple's hot-selling iPad tablet computers.

Verizon Wireless to support e-book reader

September 23, 2009

(AP) -- Verizon will be providing wireless book downloads for an electronic reading device, joining AT&T and Sprint in supporting electronic books.

Recommended for you

Click beetles inspire design of self-righting robots

September 25, 2017

Robots perform many tasks that humans can't or don't want to perform, getting around on intricately designed wheels and limbs. If they tip over, however, they are rendered almost useless. A team of University of Illinois ...

New technique spots warning signs of extreme events

September 22, 2017

Many extreme events—from a rogue wave that rises up from calm waters, to an instability inside a gas turbine, to the sudden extinction of a previously hardy wildlife species—seem to occur without warning. It's often impossible ...


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.