The widespread of interactive ebooks coincided with me getting into publishing studies: I couldn’t be any happier to live in this wonderful age. I still remember my disbelief in 2009, when I first heard about hypertext and interconnected books. My professor seemed to be telling an incredible tale about a future where all quotes, references, and mentions will be easily searchable in all works of literature. Also: where we can create our own story within the book, breaking up the linear order of reading.
Almost a decade later, we have all we could only dream of and so many things we could have never imagined. But are we using it as we should? Do interactive ebooks and enhanced ebooks get all the awe and respect they deserve? And most importantly: are they the future? In the following, I am debunking five misconceptions about interactive books and show everyone how amazing they are. (We also mention fixed-layout ebooks briefly.)
(Article was updated on June 13, 2018, with substantial changes.)
1. Interactive books are a new invention
Even if we don’t count coloring books, pop-ups and all kinds of hands-on books for kids, traditional printed books that allow the readers to interact or change the story some way or another have been around for a while now. Do any of you remember the gamebooks that came with dice and you had to decide where to go next, whom to fight and whom to avoid?
It was just a question of time that traditional linear storytelling gets combined with the reader’s desire to get involved and to get an enhanced story, that “steps off” the pages.
Although the first Kindles coming to the market didn’t look anything like the future (being heavy, black and very-very basic), interactive books and interactive ebooks conquered the market nevertheless. When interactive ebooks first emerged, several companies tried to stick the label “interactive” onto anything they published. Let’s be clear here: hyperlinks, clickable endnotes and linking outside resources should be basic features of every ebook. Enhanced ebooks and interactive ebooks should include some extras that add to the reading experience.