Looking for the future of eBooks? It’s in the clouds! Err, well, it’s in the cloud. Cloud-based computing services let you access all sorts of data – from your address book to your music collection – remotely, via an increasing range of devices, from laptops to cellphones to, you guessed it, eReaders.
So far, cloud-based computing has made huge strides in helping you shuffle your data between the various gadgets you use throughout your day. Apple’s iCloud, for example, let’s me download the latest episode of Breaking Bad on my laptop, watch the first half on my phone during the trip to work, and voila, there it is on my TV when I get home.
Lately, we’ve seen lending capabilities pop up on the Kindle, and publishers like Tor Books are doing away with DRM to encourage sharing between eBook readers, but it sounds like this is just the beginning. Earlier this week, Democrasoft, Inc. and VOOK ePublishing announced an eBook with an exciting new feature: two-way interactivity. According to Digital Book World, the book, 11 Days in May, published by Waterfront Press, will allow “real-time author and reader-to-reader dialog and collaboration from inside [the] e-book.”
In other words, you’ll be able to comment, ask questions, and respond to the questions of others without taking your eyes off the page or flipping between applications. Exciting stuff! And then there’s the authorial angle. This technology, which will allow multiple readers to access the same digital book simultaneously, could really expand the reading experience and lead to a whole new dimension of an author’s engagement with the public.
It’s an exciting time for the eBook. A lot of the news we’re hearing these days is less focused on how digital publishing stacks up against traditional publishing, and more more concerned with the format coming into its own, taking advantage of social media, internet marketing, and developments like the cloud. Increased interactivity is a fascinating prospect, but is it a revolution or a gimmick? Should authors working with the format feel compelled to engage in a digital back-and-forth with their readers, or will this role be taken up by a select few? Time will tell, but I’d love to hear people sound off in the comments.