Sounds simple enough, but what do readers think?
So far I’ve downloaded two Vooks and I’m mostly impressed with what I see. There are a few areas for growth, which I’ll get into. First, the good stuff:
What strikes me about a Vook is its downright remedial simplicity: a story in text complimented with video. We’ve been doing this for years with blogs, but never have we seen it constrained and packaged into linear book format.
I’m about halfway through the desktop version of Unleashing the SUPER Ideavirus Vook by Seth Godin. I turn pages using arrow buttons, can switch between full-screen text, full-screen video or a hybrid of both, and each chapter has a play button for a short 1-2 minute video that features people embracing the ideas of the chapter.
The Vook also lets me change font size, bookmark pages and — I’m sure they’re still testing this — share my thoughts via Facebook Connect and Twitter API apps built into each title.
Social connectivity is definitely where Vook plans to leverage its power, which is not only wise but inevitable for any publisher in this digital age. Vook’s latest blog post describing a Facebook fanpage chat with Anne Rice and her fans (she just released a Vook of her own) sums up the notion:
[Anne Rice] would certainly agree that Vook was great outlet, not just as medium for creative innovation and inspiration, but also as a way to reconnect with her audience.
I could and should talk more about how the social graph is vital to publishing, but that’s for another post…maybe even a manifesto.
Now for areas some of improvement:
The Vook desktop app runs in Flash, which is a drag. The developers have it set so I can’t select or search the text. This gives the Vook a waxy, sterile feeling — like being in a place where you can you look at but not touch the goods (several examples come to mind — use your imagination).
If they’re doing this to deter piracy, it’s at the cost of someone using their Vook for research who would need the text to be pliable and portable and, ultimately — shareable. The same thinking applies to highlighting and annotating text, which Vook doesn’t yet offer (but the Kindle does).
Despite the addition of video, Vooks are actually pretty static. I don’t get the impression my Vook would be automatically updated if a new version became available. It doesn’t save my page if I get logged out, and a few times I’ve come back to my Vook to find it’s been reset to the beginning (the cover).
The social media “engaging” tools are certainly pioneering but at the same time primitive in relevancy. You can post a Facebook update or tweet from within the Vook, but there’s no clear, living connection between posting an update and the content itself.
In other words, I’m not automatically compelled to share my thoughts on what I’ve read in my Vook just because there’s a place to do it.
Don’t take my criticisms too seriously, though.
I’m in the middle of reading Jason Fried’s new book Rework (affiliate link) which is about the ultra-streamlined, guerrilla-style, ass-kicking approach to launching a business.
I have a hunch Vook is following this line, and as attention and demand tilt in their favor, they’ll be sure to turn up the mojo for their readers.