Ever since Apple’s iPad was introduced last month everyone has started writing about how magazines and books should now have embedded videos and animations. The more I’ve given thought to that I keep getting to the same question: Why?
While I can understand the desire to have user controlled animation in the advertising of a car, so that the user can swivel it around and see what it looks like from all sides, I could not see why I would want anything of the sort in a book. In non-fiction titles you could add interactive charts, which could prove to be interesting and even animations for the explanations of something like physics.
Now, with the concession that some books could benefit from having embedded animations, we can turn to the next question: How are these animations going to get done? I mean, I don’t really know any authors, even physicist authors are not high on my list of promising graphic artists.
If these kinds of illustrations are to become mainstream authors are going to need specialized tools and then you have to consider if you really would like to live in a Harry Potter kind of world where all the illustrations in your book are animated.
If while authors don’t have specialized tools for creation the animations they would like to have in their books, perhaps publishers could hire special graphic artists that are up to the challenge of handcrafting these books for new devices such as the iPad. While this cannot be considered a bad move it will increase the product cost of each title. Higher costs, generally translate into higher consumer prices which I’m pretty sure is the exact opposite that the consumers want and expect of ebooks.
On the fiction side of things, the equation is a lot simpler. I buy a fiction book to read it. While I might find entertaining to browse a couple of illustrations, they certainly would not be determinant to my buying decision. I might skip reading altogether and go for an audiobook, but I certainly wouldn’t trade reading a book for watching a video.
Oh, wait! Videos! What a great idea! Our reading devices now support video, why don’t we make a video of each book?! Wait! Someone already thought of that! They are called movies….