The Future of Text Books (and e-Books)

No matter what you think of Al Gore’s politics, his latest book, “Our Choice” points toward the direction that authors and publishers should be heading. Text combined with images, video and interactive graphics, make this e-Book a much more compelling product than a the equivalent physical book. I personally enjoy reading on my iPad, but all of the books I read in my Kindle reader are identical to the print copy (except that I can change the font size, and have a built in dictionary). The price is also right: $5 for the e-Book compared to $17 for the a physical copy.

My first reaction to the Our Choice app (for iPad and iPhone only at the moment) was that it reminded me a lot of CD Rom products from the 1990’s. Call me crazy, but I loved the Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia because it not only included text and pictures, but added videos and interactive charts. I enjoyed the media rich CD Rom products that came of of the mid 1990 confluence of CD Roms, color monitors and speakers all shipping standard with PC’s.

So what is different this time around? For starters the form factor of the iPad make for a much more pleasant reading experience than sitting in front of a computer screen. In addition, the navigation interface that the iPad’s touch screen makes possible is intuitive and natural.  Push Pop Press is the company that wrote the software for the book, and from what they’ve said, they hope to make their tools available so that others can publish media rich tools. Watch the video below to see how the “book” works


It was a wonderful experience reading Our Choice. Not all books, especially novels, need videos and interactive charts, but for some books (like school text books in particular) these bells and whistles make a huge positive difference. I hope to see more book in a similar format in the near future.

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