Feb 28 2005
Imagine my surprise when the day after writing this post on my frustrations with the existing medium for writing and delivering reports, I see a very similar post on the subject of writing books and insightful comment. Although in this case the frustration is not so much with the paper medium (which has worked and continues to work pretty well) but with the fact that we have not exploited the electronic medium. The following extract talks to the lost opportunity, without which Joe does not believe eBooks will really take off:
The biggest barrier I see is this recognition that an e-book needs to be developed with the delivery platform in mind. Wouldn’t it be great if you could introduce the concept of a hyperlink to a printed book so that someone could just touch a phrase they don’t understand and they’re magically taken to a definition of that phrase or the first place it appears in the book? Instead, you have to flip back to the index, look it up, and then jump to that page. Oh, and while you’re doing that, you need to keep a thumb on your original page so that you don’t lose your place. That capability obviously already exists in the electronic world, but it’s not something that’s generally built in to e-books. Plus, I believe you have to construct the material in more bite-size chunks in an e-book, allowing users to read just the essentials, then drill down further (with links) if they want.
Imagine how fast you could get through the last book you read if it was constructed this way. I’m not just trying to save time though — since we’re all different, this model would allow us to dip in and out to different levels on any given topic, depending on how far you want to go. What would enable you to do this? It would be possible because the author constructed the book this way. That’s not so easy in a printed book. It’s this sort of layering of the content that I believe needs to be taken into consideration to build a truly effective e-book.