Monday, 21 January 2013

#readitmummiesanddaddies2013 - E stands for 'Enhanced' not just 'Electronic' when it comes to E-Books

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner - an e-book 'done properly'
There seems to be a war raging between the luddites and the technocrati and it's a war that seems as odd as any other war. Two sides are gathered, with a fair amount of neutrals in the middle, claiming that their favourite method of enjoying stories is better than the other and will somehow 'win'.

As we know, in a war there are no winners and what this has to do with the #readitmummiesanddaddies2013 campaign is this. Quite simply, there's more than enough room on your shelves and in your tablet / kindle / e-reader for both Print books and E-books.

This week on ReadItDaddy we're going to be focusing on some of the best e-books around and some of the publishers who fully understand the statement topping this article - that 'E' doesn't just stand for 'Electronic' it stands for 'Enhanced'.

We've used Sally Gardner's utterly amazing and mind-bendingly brilliant book "Maggot Moon" as our first example of an e-book that brings more to the table than just the ability to flick through its pages on a tablet or e-reader. Working in conjunction with Sally herself, Hot Key Books have produced something that, at first glance, seems just like an ordinary everyday e-book. Flip your iPad on its side though, read the book in Landscape Mode and things start to happen...

The Maggot Moon introduction in 'Enhanced' mode. Hello Standish!
We start to see Maggot Moon how Sally herself sees the book. You see, Sally is Dyslexic and working with Hot Key Books has developed several rather clever methods to show readers how the book and how text appears to her. 

There are some truly fascinating insights and interviews with Sally, as well as a whole host of supporting materials that pop in and out of the story - from amazing pieces of art to support the story itself to subversive video clips that show us how powerful the internet can be at generating memes and hype. 

Great little box-outs and video clips enhance the written text at various points in the story

With E-Books, we usually hear the plaintive cries of folk claiming that they are too expensive, and that surely the cost of digital distribution and the lack of cost involved in bringing a book to print means that e-books should be cheaper. But when you consider how much effort is put into something like Maggot Moon, and how close in price it is to the paperback version, those arguments seem a bit odd and out of place. 

There's also the argument that enhanced books aren't great for children, distracting them too much from the story and the narrative. I'd agree in some respects with this but again this seems to be an argument squarely aimed at books that pad out their content with games and other distractions, rather than enhancements to the story (as with Maggot Moon). They can actually help children listen to a story if parents aren't confident readers, and can also give additional information and leap-off points for children to go and investigate once the 'book' is closed. 

You'll hear more about the Maggot Moon Multi-Touch Enhanced Edition in our review later this week, but in the meantime here's a list of children's books that have also wowed us and shown us how 'enhanced' editions really can help a child engage with books in new and very exciting ways. If you have any other suggestions, please do drop them in the comments section below.

A handful of E-Books worth grabbing