How Auto-Tagging & Text Analysis Could Make Ebooks Better
I’m convinced we’re still in the very early stages of ebook evolution. The current print-under-glass model works great for some books but long-form digital content has so much more potential.
The market will ultimately move beyond the only option readers have today of consuming dumb content on smart devices. Content enrichment is one way forward but neither authors nor publishers have an appetite for the effort required to add video and other web elements to their books. And before anyone suggests that I’m trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist, let me once again say that some books are just fine with the print-under-glass model. But there are plenty of books and genres that would benefit from digital enrichment and those are what we need to focus on.
If the manual process isn’t viable, how can we use technology to our advantage to take this content to the next digital level? I propose an automated solution, one where auto-tagging, text analysis, and search results all play a role.
Here’s how it would work:
- The ebook contents are analyzed by an enrichment tool where key phrases, names, locations, etc., are identified and tagged.
- Those tagged elements are then viewable by the reader when they tap the screen in their reading app; the service remains completely invisible to readers who don’t wish to use it.
- When the reader taps on one of the tagged elements a pop-up menu provides the opportunity to dive deeper on that topic with links to video, audio, maps, web pages, etc.; all of this is fed by the application’s preferred search engine (e.g., Google, Bing, etc.).
- The reader is then able to take that deeper dive, pin links to the page for future reading, and share their favorites with other readers of the ebook.
Because this vision integrates web elements with the book it requires an active internet connection. If the reader is offline they’re still able to read the original print-under-glass version of the book.
The video below is a quick walk-through of how this concept is presented to the reader. As you watch it, remember the intention here is to develop a front-end content analysis/parsing tool that tags and builds all the linkages, so no work is required by the author or editor. Also note the opportunity to create new income streams for the publisher and author via paid and sponsored link campaigns.
Joe Wikert is Publishing President at Our Sunday Visitor (www.osv.com). Before joining OSV Joe was Director of Strategy and Business Development at Olive Software. Prior to Olive Software he was General Manager, Publisher, & Chair of the Tools of Change (TOC) conference at O’Reilly Media, Inc., where he managed each of the editorial groups at O’Reilly as well as the Microsoft Press team and the retail sales organization. Before joining O’Reilly Joe was Vice President and Executive Publisher at John Wiley & Sons, Inc., in their P/T division.