Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Media Overload

This is an interesting idea:
Is it a book? Is it a movie? Is it a Web site?

Actually it's all three.

Anthony Zuiker, creator of the "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" U.S. television series, is releasing what he calls a "digi-novel" combining all three media — and giving a jolt to traditional book publishing.

Zuiker has created "Level 26," a crime novel that also invites readers to log on to a Web site about every 20 pages using a special code to watch a "cyber-bridge" — a three-minute film clip tied to the story.

Starting next Tuesday, readers can buy the book, visit the Web site, log in to watch the "cyber-bridges," read, discuss and contribute to the story.
Ultimately, it will come down to the quality of the content. Well, maybe. It would be interesting to craft a story in which the multimedia aspects were interwoven into the plot and functioned as something more than "Hey, look what we can do." Maybe "Level 26" does that; I do not know. I'd be willing to give it a shot.

But then sending book readers to a Web site from a printed book isn't really all that exciting or clever. Textooks, non-fiction books, and others already do this regularly in the form of references. Still, I can envision an application where an e-book reader like a later-generation Kindle can seamlessly integrate multimedia content into e-books. (But then this was a discussion I remember having circa 1993 when CD-ROM-based multimedia content first started coming out.) Actually, an e-book reader on a smartphone like the iPhone would already be able to handle this.

But then if anyone lives in New York or Los Angeles and subscribes to Entertainment Weekly, they will, in the September 18th issue, get to see the first implementation of a video player embedded in a printed publication. Let's hope it's not as lame as the e-paper-based Esquire cover last year (my copy of which, by the way, finally died).

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