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I would love this, but wish it would be applicable to purchased hard-copy books! Those with reality-based libraries are missing out on all the fun!

Sounds pretty cool. Though I haven't seen nor tried it, I think I prefer the icons which must be clicked. When I read a book with footnotes at the back, before I begin a chapter I scan through the footnotes. If any seem more than a citation, I check the number so I'll read it when I get to it. I think if the comments "pop" out, it would affect the flow of the text. Just saying.

The possibilities are staggering and very tempting/exciting, etc. But i am deeply concerned about the "kleenex" attitude that is spreading like kudzu with all of these electronic "goodies." What happens to all of those "old" ipads and tablets, etc (not to mention cell phones) when a person discards their last purchase for the latest version? The process of recycling electronics is way, WAY behind the process of recycling paper. As usual, we (the ones who spend the money on products and therefore influence the market) are so eager/excited, etc we forget to consider the consequences/broader picture. It's an issue that publishers and writers should be concerned with, least in my opinion.

Electronics can easily be recycled and/or sold at I've used them and have been very satisfied.

I've dreamed of the day when books become interactive. I will probably wait to buy any device until they work out all the kinks (no 'first adapter' here). I spend all day glued to a 'pooter and can barely stand to watch tv when I get off work. When I'm home, I'm in the garden working til sundown. Things will have to change in my working world before I start buying anything for home.

One of my concerns is how much money are you being paid to continue the dialog with readers after the original book is published? I don't like to work for free and don't expect anyone else to either.

Is your hard work and that of your illustrator protected beyond basic copyright laws so that someone can't cut and paste text or artwork off the files?

John--Yes, all my annotations, etc. are owned by me. I retain the copyright. (This is true, by the way, of anything that any of us write or post. This comment is copyrighted by me. That's the way copyright law works.)

As for whether I got paid--I get paid whenever a copy of my book sells. For authors, the idea is that this level of enhancement would sell more books. In my case, I get a higher royalty on ebooks than I do on print books, so I have an incentive to work harder to sell ebooks.

I do kid's books through Dial, (which is part of Penguin) and they've jumped whole hog on this whole "enhanced reading" thing. They want to do an "enhanced" version of one of my books, which are a sort of graphic novel/chapter book hybrid, although when they told me the money they lay out to get somebody to do all that, I had to go lay down with a cold cloth on my eyes for a few hours. We'd have to see more copies than God to make it cost effective...but hey, if they think it's a good idea, s'not my money.

For kid's books, you're looking at sound effects when they touch the illustrations, little animations, some very simple interactive games (help Danny clean his room before we turn the page, for example.) and a read-aloud version. Being that I'm middle grade, I suspect I'm right on the cusp when kids won't think it's cool--I mean, my demographic is often playing on the Xbox or PS3, and helping Danny clean his room probably won't thrill them--but I'm eager to see how it all plays out.

This certainly is neat--esp once it grows up. However, I both hate and love the idea of the author adding stuff. Already, we are amidst the full shift where presses expect authors to do their own marketing, for free. Where does the time come from that? And who has $ to hire a publicist? On the flipside, something like this gives your more artistic control, and more options to connect in all sorta of was. But imagine it's very time consuming--and to add videos? Those would have to look pretty darn professional, and that takes time and money, too. Can't just upload a youtibe from your desktops vid camera.

Benjamin--You could certainly create your own videos, or, just as you might do on Facebook, you could share anyone's YouTube video. I linked to / embedded many interesting National Geographic-type videos of my bugs doing their thing. You could link to a relevant NYT article or a Flickr set.

Not all authors will want to invest the time, and not all books need annotation. But it can be a great way to add back in all those little bits that got left on the cutting-room floor or just didn't fit the narrative. A novelist could link to real-life places that inspired the book, maybe.

Or imagine you wrote, say, a garden-themed travel guide to North America, and your goal in life was to be the expert on garden-related travel. Wouldn't it be cool to continually update your book--might that give readers an incentive to buy the iPad edition?

There was some discussion on The Business of Garden Writing's Facebook page regarding QR codes, you're probably familiar with how they work, kind of like subtext only not as interactive. I would consider adding the subtext feature to my book(s). I see an added benefit especially for self-published authors that need all the help they can get to increase sales of their books. And as you hit on, the changes the publishing industry is going through with all this new technology has them searching for answers, why not allow authors to help them with their questions?

Amy, you're right of course, with the linking. I suppose an author would have to literally be CONSUMED by the topic every waking minute to keep updating and linking. I feel like, at me age (35) I'm stuck squarely between yeah this is awesome and meh I want my paperback glue.

I find it interesting that so many people equate a digital copy of a book or magazine only with their computers...that tablets which are just as portable and in many cases as much or more fun to read on are dismissed as 'non-books'. They may not be traditional, but they are books and magazines nonetheless. This is the future of publishing for both books and periodicals and is limitless in its possibilities. (or maybe only limited by current technology and budgets) Bravo, I say.

For the first time EVER, I really want an iPad. Never had the slightest desire for one before, but now I NEEEEEEEEED it.

I agree with Kat. I never thought of getting an iPad but now I want one badly!

Amy, thanks for your post. It's thoughtful and energetic... just like you! Your thinking around the display of notes is interesting and duly noted. Also, two quick notes for everyone: 1) We are showcasing a small collection of great books, but you can read any book in Subtext and invite your friends or reading group to join you. 2) We want readers to have a lot of control over the extra content and discussions. As a starting-point, you can choose to see notes from friends, the community and/or authors and experts as you read; you can set them only to appear at the end of each chapter; or you can turn them off all together and circle back to them after finishing the book. In Wicked Bugs, I recommend keeping them on as you go—eek!

Amy - I was more concerned with e-books offering copyright infringers easy access to large format digital files. I was wondering if the files are flattened or structured in a way that anyone with PhotoShop, Acrobat or Illustrator skills would be blocked from harvesting text or images from the book.

As I understand it - there may be copyright laws, but you are the copyright police. You have to find the person infringing and then hire a lawyer and take them to court, and it is very hard to get all the money they made off of your hard work. It is also pretty expensive and authors and illustrators aren't very well paid.

Not all of the plastic and components of computers, cell phones, tablets etc are recyclable. A lot still goes into the landfill. And, too many people simply do not want to be bothered using a service like Gazelle--packing up old stuff, paying to send it off, etc--even if we get a little money back in return. Gazelle will not pay for shipping if the item cannot be resold--like a totally broken/unsalvagable laptop.

These tools are the future, clearly. i love most of them as much as anyone...but...they are becoming a huge problem, too.

Those who profit the most (Apple, MS, Intel, etc) should be leading the way to a solution to this--since they are the ones feeding the habit/making the huge profits.

And we, the consumer, should be demanding it of our local recycling centers as well as the manufacturers.

I don't know, as a reader, the thought of keeping up with all the updates wears me out. I can see the advantages though, especially in gardening and other non-fiction works, since things are always changing.

A question for authors: since there are only so many hours in a day, would this mean that the time spent updating your books would impinge on time researching and writing new ones? In other words, would you be discouraged from moving forward on a new book because of time spent updating, or feel as though you could accomplish the same goal by working new ideas into an old text, rather than embarking on a new book? Just wondering. Right now it sounds like updating books is mostly a support activity for promoting the actual book sales themselves, but we all know how fast that can change.

I keep imagining Rembrandt or Picasso being able to go back and add to their paintings whenever they had a new thought about them, rather than painting a new one.

Anne--interesting analogy! Painters did (and do) continually update their paintings. There was a great piece on NPR this morning about Degas, and one work in particular that was still in his studio when he died, that he'd been revising and updating for years!

But I definitely understand your point. Many of us really do want to move on! Someone once said that an author on book tour is an employee of her former self. So true!

Amy, you got me thinking; maybe one of the "add-ons" to an e-book could be a virtual reading/tour, allowing the author to opt out of having to do quite so many tours. After all, you should make the technology work for you!


I've been working on an enhanced book for awhile now, so I'm thrilled to read about a program that will allow me to compose right on my iPad. Thanks for this great post!

BTW, I'd love your readership to know about my 2009 book, "Home Outside: Creating the Landscape You Love"--please feel free to offer it on your book list. And do check out our iPhone landscape app: Home Outside Design (HOD). We're continuing to develop it-- a fun creative tool for homeowners and designers.

I think this sounds very exciting - albeit with a ton of extra work on the part of the author. Is that work paid work? It does make me worried though whether I will ever get out of one book and on to the next.

I would prefer to use the normal book than the eBook because eBook has screen limits, while the normal book is easy to use and you can lie on your bed while reading and you can also just fold and sleep unlike the eBook, you have to turn it of and wait for a second before you go to sleep.

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