Culture is future » Innovation and digital


Contribution : "The enhanced book, the future of paper book?" by Marion Pilarczyk

Numerous innovations offer readers new reading techniques. Among them, we can find the enhanced book which opens up nice and creative prospects. Let’s hope the book will find market opportunities.

The comeback of a multimedia support.  While the e-book was a digital copy of a paper book, the enhanced book uses multimedia resources. It emerged in the 2010s at the same time as e-books, and it includes sounds, videos and animations creating a book to be seen and read. For instance, theCandide ou l’optimiste enhanced book version offers the original manuscript version written by the author with the digital text on the other page, which enables readers to accede to notes permitting them to make their reading more enriching. However this success is not complete,facing two major obstacles.  The French e-book market is very limited and the required artistic investment of the enhanced book hampers its profitability.

The e-book, a market which is still shaky in France. The e-book is going through a significant evolution: 15% of the French population aged 15 or over, admits to have read, partly or as a whole, an e-book in 2013 compared to less than 5% in 2012. However, the e-book only represents 3% of the turnover of the book industry and the French public is still reluctant to buy this kind of medium compared to the Americans. The enhanced book is experiencing a more modest evolution, although 50% of book publishers are entering the market of enhanced books.

Enhanced books suffer from the competition of the digital world. Although the future of the enhanced book is still uncertain – it is still not profitable and we can wonder whether it does not mark the return of the CD-ROM – it is only the first phase of this trend. 2014 is expected to be the year for the start-ups which would like to make the most of it. It offers a real added value as it attracts large groups of people who are not familiar to use that kind of attractive medium to read, and makes reading easier for those who try to understand a classic book. Above all, it is based on real creations such as Candide, Zafara or Mon musée imaginaire, which are usually financed by patrons such as Orange.

This promising technological breakthrough has some limits, however: some studies have shown that the digital revolution does not enable young people to concentrate on what they are doing. We can also wonder about the room left to reader’s imagination with this kind of book. It is now up to creative people and financial experts to find a future niche to this cultural and multipurpose product. 

Marion Pilarczyk,  Master 1 PCC Université d'Avignon.

Photo credit : Tim RT

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