Ok, I'm a huge fan of ebooks and digital comic books and luckily for me over the past year there has been a tremendous surge of interest in the medium, no doubt this is brought about by the emergence of tablet computers like the ipad and such. I've definitely enjoyed the advances in the technology but after reading few ebooks and a *ton* of digital comic books I am beginning to get a since of what I really want in an ebook/digital comic book. So as I was crystal ballin' about the technology and it's future I began to envision really exciting prospects for something I call the "media book" . So what's a media book, well it's kinda like an ebook and kinda not! Let me explain. Lets look at the current/emerging ebooks, they are filled with rich graphics, interactive questionnaires and polls and a smattering of audio and video. If you don't know what I'm talking about just tryout one of the textbooks in the iBookstore to see an example of the current state of the art. Believe it or not, as rich and interactive as the current crop of ebooks are...I still feel like I'm missing something...I want more. I don't want a story that's augmented with audio/video as a means of providing more information like footnotes, etc. I want a mixed media experience, a story that's told using an interlaced collection of the written word, the spoken word, reader interaction and video. The total experience should take me well beyond the imagination and capabilities of the written/spoken word alone. In my crystal balled future, reading an ebook would be a fully immersive experience wherein the story is told across a range of media types. I'm a big fan of science fiction and science fantasy books so I'll attempt illustrate with an example from that genre.
Let's say that I'm reading an ebook and as I finish reading the current page, a space battle is looming on the horizon for our hero. As I slowly turn the page, the book begins to play sounds of a space battle in the background...drawing me deeper into the moment. I read on, now I distinctly here dialog between the captain and his crew. I'm fully engrossed as I turn another page and a video snippet of the space sortie plays across the top of the page, automatically without any actions (button presses, etc.) by me. At this point, reading the book is engaging all of my senses (or as many of my senses as possible), allowing the scenes and characters to come to life through a rich collection of mixed-media. *That* is the ebook I want!
And it gets even better, not only is this experience great for the book readers, it's also great for actors, graphic artists, animators, voice-over actors, etc. The current model for entertainment is constrained and controlled by television/movie industry and its associated distribution channel - a very limited landscape. Mixed-media enter/infotainment ebooks provide another frontier for performers and artists to offer up their collective skills & talents. A frontier with limitless opportunities - there are millions of books (written and unwritten) just waiting to be turned into a mixed-media ebook experience.