Vook might found the future of publishing. That’s a tall order to fill, but it seems that this is the direction the company could take with it’s book + video (VOOK) platform. Vooks, or video books, combine the text of a book with well produced video. The videos and book stand on their own but also compliment each other.
The books Vook has been working with are either instructional or non-fiction, as that content lends itself well towards this kind of project. Complimentary media is nothing new. Call out boxes and infographics have lone done the explaining that text could never do. With people reading more on electronic devices, extra information doesn’t have to be static.
Even movies have gotten into the action. No matter what you think of the movies, the Matrix trilogy was enhanced with the video game Enter the Matrix and the series of animated shorts The Animatrix. The animations and video game explain the story to a higher degree than the movies could. Each stand on their own, as the movies stand on their own as well. When I was at the New York Sun, we sought to make our articles come alive through similar types of extra content. You can still find that content on the New York Sun blip.tv page. The impressions that additional / supplementary media can have on readers is huge. The time spent on the page increases when it is done right. What Vook is attempting to do is just that for authors. While the current title selection leaves much to be desired, the potential is clear. For the price of Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion in hardcover on Amazon, you can have the Vook, a text of the book and a series of videos that compliment the book’s content.
The current downside of the platform is that when you purchase a Vook, you are locked into the device you purchased it for. If you buy Crush It for the iPhone, you can’t watch it on your computer and vice versa. This will hamper their sales, as people expect more and more to choose where they have access to the content they purchase. When you purchase a song on iTunes, an audiobook on Audible or an ebook on the Kindle, you can access that data with multiple devices. The Vook roadblock hurts consumers, and an emerging platform should be as open as can be to encourage consumers to buy in. I often wonder if my parents would understand why they weren’t allowed to play the videos and read the book on the iPhones (if they had iPhones) when they can read ebooks on the Kindles and iPhones (they don’t have Kindles either).
The perfect platform for the Vook doesn’t yet exist on a mass market level. While the iPhone provides a fantastic way to view media while on the go, it’s not a great device for reading and some complain about watching movies on a 3.5″ screen. Computers provide a great reading experience, but most people don’t want to read full books on their computers, and not everyone is comfortable bringing their laptops to bed.
The perfect device or the Vook experience is that rumored Apple media tablet. While I don’t want to go too far into the rumors about the tablet, many have argued between the focus being books or movies. Vook nicely rides the line between those two worlds. While no one at Vook I spoke to knew anything about an Apple device, they did assure me that they would be developing Vook to work with whatever Apple releases. Also, Creative is working on a MediaBook. A Creative VP explained that the device is meant for “videos, pictures, text and services in one device that supports a media-rich experience” which sounds like what Vook is attempting to create.
Vook is in a good position to help book publishers move beyond the single format of the book, but their device locked formats are a cause for concern. As notable authors sign up for the service, we will see how people understand the format. If the right authors sign up for Vook, we could be looking at the future of the book publishing industry.
What do you think? Would you buy Vooks?