Entertainment Weekly, a magazine to which I subscribe and greatly enjoy, announced today that a fall edition of the magazine will contain a 2×2-inch, paper-thin video ad.
That’s right. A tiny video screen embedded into a page of the magazine. It’s even rechargeable so you can watch the ad again if you want.
For quite a while now, I’ve been thinking about e-books as the future of reading. You can do so much more with e-books than you can a regular book. For example, when e-ink technology improves, you could embed a video within the pages of your novel if you thought it would be better than a description of a scene. (Note that I don’t think many books would be improved by a video. That’s what makes books…books.)
However, with this Americhip ad technology, you could have your cake (the smell and feel of a real book in your hands) and eat it too (video technology). Embed the video screen into the front cover. Whenever the reader reaches a video scene, they flip to the front, skip to the scene, and watch it before continuing.
I’m still wrapping my mind around how a book that encompasses multiple formats like this could be used. There was a book that came out earlier this summer called The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet that incorporates drawings and maps that are necessary to the plot onto nearly every page. The author noted in an inteview that he started off writing the book in a word processing program like normal, but he kept reaching places where he wanted to show the reader exactly what something looked like, not describe it and leave it to the reader’s imagination. But it’s not a kid’s book–this is a real adult novel.
And why shouldn’t an adult novel have drawings or video or a soundtrack that plays when you reach certain points? The answer I know some publishers might say is that it’s more expensive to print a book like that. Spivet retails for $18.45 on Amazon, and I don’t think it did as well as the publisher hoped. But it’s also a different size than the standard hardcover.
I think of my unfinished Frank Lloyd Wright novel when I think about these things. I’m not sure if video would add much to the concept, with the exception of video tours of some of the Wright buildings I mention in the book. But I would certainly like to include some of the blueprints I describe in the book, as well as some of Wright’s sketches. They’re not bonus material. They’re essential to the plot.
I have another project that could really use the videos, but it may be better in blog format. I’ve hinted about it before, and I’ll talk more about it soon.
After reading about this EW video ad, I’m 100% sure we’ll see a book come out within the year with the same technology embedded in it. And it’ll be a big deal, and the book will sell well, if not for the sheer novelty of it (kind of like 3D is some recent movies). Then we’ll see some copycats, and finally we’ll see a book emerge that uses the technology fully to its potential. Will it be my book? Will it be your book? We’ll see.