Enhancing the E-book Business
In late 2007, HarperCollins claimed to have published the first-ever e-book to include video. That e-book title, "Lady Amelia's Secret Lover," featured six embedded videos of the book's author, Victoria Alexander, sharing her insights into the story's plot details and characters. At the time, the trade publisher likened the videos to "extras" on DVDs.
As YouTube and the pop-culture phenomenon known as the "viral video" continued to explode, more and more publishers experimented with ways to leverage this digital medium to both promote and enhance books. For example, video book trailers and author videos became more and more utilized as marketing tools.
It seemed most publishers forging into the e-book space, however, still were primarily focused on simply converting their text into digital versions—perhaps, in part, because of the limitations of e-reading technologies with relatively small, black-and-white screens that didn't lend themselves to colorful or complex digital fireworks. As recently as last summer, 49 percent of readers who responded to a Book Business e-book survey indicated that they do not produce enhanced e-books. (Thirty-six percent indicated that they do not publish any e-books.)
Introducing the 'Vook' Concept
While many publishers have yet to experiment with enhanced e-books, Brad Inman founded an entire company based on this digital product, and coined a new term in the process: "vook," described by Inman's company as "a new innovation in reading that blends a well-written book, high-quality video and the power of the Internet into a single, complete story."
Prior to Vook, Inman had founded TurnHere, an online video production and distribution house. "Brad had been in New York [for TurnHere] doing a bunch of author profiles and meeting people in publishing … and he saw an opportunity," explains Matthew Cavnar, Vook's head of acquisitions. "Here's a chance to light up all that gray matter, light up all that content, and do something fun and exciting … really bring all these opportunities that technology presents to digital text."