Future Directions for the Book

Pioneering publications are giving us a glimpse of what the book of the future might look like - and that future can best be summarised as augmentation.

1. The Hybrid Book

In the US, the New York Observer reports that publisher Melville House has produced a series of hybrid books. Hybrid books are print books that come with a Quick Response (QR) code that can be scanned with a mobile device to access additional online features, which the publisher is calling “illuminations”. Melville House’s first hybrid books are a series of novellas, all of which are entitled The Duel. The books are all stories written through the ages by Giacomo Casanova, Anton Chekhov, Joseph Conrad, Heinrich von Kleist and Aleksandr Kuprin that share the same title.

Additional features for Anton Chekhov’s Duel include a Thomas Paine essay, poems by Lord Byron, some Nietzsche, a church sermon on the evils of dueling, and a US senator’s argument in favor of dueling. Casanova’s Duel includes a Mark Twain essay on French dueling and an account of a famous duel fought from hot air balloons.

In addition, the publisher is also making a QR program available to independent bookstores allowing them to sell customers ebooks in-store.

2. The Augmented Picture Book

Another exciting publishing venture points towards an altogether different kind of future book. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore is a children’s book made for the iPad - or perhaps it’s best described as an iPad app in the form of a children’s book. Whatever definition you choose to give it, Morris Lessmore is a sophisticated attempt at blurring the lines between book and interactive game-playing for kids. The lavish production values are due to the fact that it’s a spin-off of a film for children of the same name produced by a Louisiana production company called Moonbot. It costs just $5.49 on iTunes. Here’s a preview.

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