I’ve been thinking about books and eBooks. And I’ve been thinking that “eBooks” just isn’t going to cut it as a name for what’s coming. Let me give you an example of what I mean. Let’s say that I want to write a guide on photography. One chapter is about how to frame a photo – the person you’re photographing can be in the middle of the frame, or you can put them on the edges to create a different perspective. In a regular old book I would probably show a few photos illustrating this example. They would be in black and white, since color printing is so expensive.

But what if my book was more like an App? First let’s upgrade to color photos.Second, I could include some video illustrating my example. Those are definitely a big step up from a plain old book, but really they amount to more “consuming” of the information. Let’s take this a lot further – into interacting. What about an interactive element on the page where the user can try different crops of the same photo, trying out this theory on the fly? The book itself could become a teaching camera – with scenes available in which you can test lighting, depth of field, framing. It would be better than a camera, since the scenes can be chosen to help the “reader” (yeah, we’re going to need another word for that, too) learn a specific skill. The book could also incorporate knowledge about specific cameras, teaching the reader how to make the specific adjustments on his camera to get the effects that have been taught.

Textbooks are just bursting with possibilities. A physics book for high school students could include in-book experiments. You could watch Newton’s laws go into effect, set up lever and pulley mechanisms and watch forces at work. You might even, with a little help, be able to wrap you head around that whole speed of light thing (there’s an old one about how you can fit a ladder longer than a barn into the barn if you’re just traveling at the speed of light that always gave me a headache).

Cookbooks – can you imagine cookbooks? Video of the recipe being made, right in place. So much cooking is visual: cook the butter until it looks like THIS (video). And everything in full color – all the cookbooks I have are so stilted by the expense of ink. The Photo Cookbook is just the beginning: http://www.thephotocookbook.com/

Do you think these ideas are limited to textbooks and teaching?

This week I came across The Pedlar Lady, an iPad app that’s listed in the Book category. There is literally no way to read this book the same way twice. It’s lovely and yet I can’t help but think that it’s just scratched the surface. Here’s the creator’s info: http://moving-tales.com/

The Pedlar Lady

One thing that’s clear to me, though, is that the Kindle has merely taken books and make them available on the an electronic device – an eBook. But the iPad is creating a whole new category of thing – something we’ve never had before. It’s an AppBook? I don’t know – I’m not good at coining words – but I think we’re going to need a new word for these things.