Jun 22, 2010
The technological development and cultural acceptance of e-books today parallels the state of the printed book in the 15th century. E-books are increasingly available from a variety of distributors and retailers, and work on a myriad of devices, but the majority remain simply digitized versions of print books. Some devices or platforms include such tools as word definitions, highlighting, and note taking, but many of these tools simply mimic what students and researchers have traditionally done with printed texts. This paper examines three examples of innovative e-books in order to illustrate the potential and pitfalls of electronic publications. The first is a history e-text that includes 1,700 primary-source documents — such as Presidential memos, reports, and even audio and video clips — linked from footnotes, providing a treasure trove of research material to readers. The second is a novella in hypertext form. The third example examines digital textbooks that include multimedia, assessment, and other digital tools. Each of these cases demonstrates creative approaches, business models, and methods of review that point to the enhanced, interactive, interlinked future of the e-book.
Reprinted with permission from The International Journal of the Book, Volume 6, Number 1, pp. 83–94. Copyright © 2009 Common Ground Publishing.