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One of my favorite classes in college was “The History of the English Language.” It was fascinating!
Not only did we study Old English (Chinese might be easier to understand), but the professor unearthed nuggets such as the fact that many linguists believe that originally, there was a common language (Babel is history, wink, wink; a subject for another time).
We also discovered how language changes over time. I well remember, as a fifth grader, no less, being frustrated to see words changed on billboards. In those days, we began to see the word “light” become “lite.” I still don’t like it, but things change.
Which brings me to the subject of this Writer’s Bloc … vooks.
A new idea is “Vook,” a hybrid traditional book teamed with video. It’s a bit like watching a mini-film version of a novel.
As the company that produces this new wave states on its website, “You can read your book, watch videos that enhance the story and connect with authors and your friends through social media all on one screen, without switching between platforms.”
Put another way, in today’s vernacular, u can r ur vook.
But enough of that.
Vooks have ISBN numbers, publishers, and authors. They also have filmmakers attached, and they can be viewed on a phone, for crying out loud!
On my desk I keep a copy of an old Sumerian cuneiform tablet, along with a 1912 typewriter that was used to type field reports during World War I. They are on either side of my MacBook. I love old technology and am fascinated with the various ways humans have progressed in communications, even if I don’t like much of it. Again, I was the frustrated little chap watching language change in advertising.
But I will be giving vooks a chance. I like it. I embrace it.
Vooks are now available for viewing on a computer, or for your phone. The online version is $6.99; iPhone version is $4.99.
Vook is currently partnering with Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, so your choice is limited. More publishing partners are in the offing, however, and I would imagine many more are on the horizon. Teaming an editorial staff with a film production crew is innovative, plausible and totally cool.
Created in 2008 by Bradley Inman, Vook is surely a wave headed our way.
Purists of course – and I love them – will clutch their leather-bound, 400-year-old volumes, latching them tight as the dust that King James breathed wafts upward. I love old books, and whether it’s AbeBooks, or the musty used bookstore down the street from your local university … traditional books will be with us until the end. They just will.
Yet I see nothing wrong with an entrepreneur like Inman creating something visual and stimulating to the reader. And if it converts more non-readers into readers, isn’t that a good thing? I will no longer elevate my nose when I see a college sophomore read a book on his phone.
Imagine your favorite fiction enhanced with perhaps 20 short videos. Or even more bold, a non-fiction work that incorporates a short documentary style that enhances the information a reader is absorbing.
Think … think of the possibilities, dear author! As we’ve discussed before, the opportunities for today’s writers are gargantuan.
The vook concept has my brain on overdrive. For some time, I’ve had an idea for a niche book centered around my favorite college football team. As it happens, in that university town is a good friend of mine who has a video production company. Hmm (I’m rubbing my chin now, staring up at a vintage calendar on the wall), by pitching my book idea to the school, and thereby obtaining archival footage and photographs, and linking with my buddy, I could create a really interesting vook for a niche audience.
Can I make a lot of money doing this project? I don’t know. Maybe. Writing for a living is always a balancing act. Most of us like writing by using electric lighting, as opposed to our Neanderthal ancestors who used fire in dark caves. Personally, I prefer paying my light bill so that I can write, rather than trudge into a dank cave. By balancing my abilities to write enough to keep the lights on, with my real desire to produce something in writing that has meaning, I can sleep peacefully at night. Vook gives me a possible future opportunity to create something commercially viable that would also be for posterity.
This is the perfect blending of business with the arts. Inman raised $7.5 million in venture capital to start his Internet production company, TurnHere.com, which produces online advertising for clients. Good for him, good old American ingenuity. By next joining with writers and filmmakers, Inman has produced something that I believe will be satisfying and win-win for everyone.