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Enhanced Ebooks

Enhanced Ebooks

You may have published in ebook format already, but if the digital publishing hype of circa 2012 wasn’t enough to persuade you that an ebook is a worthwhile addition to your self-published catalogue, this might sway you. Enhanced ebooks are better than they used to be; consumers even expect to see them in certain types of ebook. While it’s been possible to add enhanced elements for a while, now that the Epub 3 file type is the current standard, they are even more achievable.

What is Enhanced Content?

Epub 3 files allow you to embed a range of complex content during the coding process. This includes the option to add sound clips (mp3 files), video and in some cases, background music. Fixed format files, in which text and images are absolutely anchored in place, open up even more options: some allow clickable, moveable images and sound effects. Several devices and retailers will let you enable ‘audio narration’ – embedded audio that leads to professional, in sync narration and sound effects to go alongside the words as they display on screen.

The main appeal of an ebook is down to their low price and ease of purchase, neither of which are affected by fancy functionality. That said, enhanced ebooks look great, they’re much more within reach for indie authors than they used to be (they’re relatively inexpensive in comparison to apps, which have similar capabilities) and they add a whole new level to an otherwise one-dimensional text. Enhanced ebooks are a definite departure from the recent trend of trying to replicate the printed version in digital format. It’s great to see the capabilities of the separate formats being embraced individually. It’s unlikely that enhanced ebooks will become the norm. However, publishers, authors and conversion houses are much more open to the idea of including enhancements than they were, and as it’s now easier for conversion houses to do, they charge less than before to prepare files in this way. This is opening up greater opportunities for traditional and self-published authors alike.

Will an Enhanced Ebook Suit my Manuscript?

Not all older or more basic e-reading devices, apps or Internet browsers support enhancements. How are your readers likely to read? You can assess this by identifying your target audience and doing some research online. Similarly, not all retailers support the upload of files with every type of enhancement, so check with the retailer before you produce a file with them in mind. For example, Amazon’s fixed format file type, the KF8, allows fewer enhanced features – worth knowing if you are preparing a device specific file.

You might wish to steer clear of enhanced features if your ebook is a straightforward novel – not because these elements won’t be achievable but because they come at an additional cost or require considerable extra effort on your part and it’s unlikely to be what novel readers are looking for; seeing a reference in the description to an audio file at the end of Chapter Eight, won’t necessarily pique their interest. You can do a lot of things in an ebook that you can’t do in a printed book, even without adding enhanced content. The majority of devices will allow the read aloud function, you can hyperlink internally and externally… You can even hyperlink endnotes to the relevant reference number within the confines of a regular, unenhanced file.

Enhanced ebooks are a definite departure from the recent trend of trying to replicate the printed version in digital format. It’s great to see the capabilities of the separate formats being embraced individually.

However, enhanced ebooks are something to get excited about. They can work really well and be incredibly worthwhile in all sorts of books. They add invaluable extra elements to children’s picture books, for example… Apart from the obvious appeal of moving pictures, sound effects can add a whole new level of interest and become a real selling point. In addition, in technical or business books, video content can be equally appropriate, providing visual tutorials, product demonstrations, tours of buildings etc.

Consider the practicalities objectively before making a decision. Who is going to help you with the technicalities? If you use an external company to do the tricky bits for you, how much will this increase your outlay? Is it enough of a selling point to justify the increased costs? It might well be, but it’s something that should be thought about from the outset.

What do you think? Would an enhanced ebook be likely to tempt you, or would you rather stick to a standard ebook file?

About The Author

Rachel is the Editor of The Self-Publishing Magazine. The magazine aims to educate, inform and entertain the world about everything to do with self-publishing. Rachel has an English degree and a Creative Writing MA from the University of Southampton, and writes in her spare time. She is also a keen runner and an avid reader, especially of historical fiction.

Video Update!

From the editor…

Events season is here. Perhaps you're heading to the Self-Publishing Conference this spring? Literary events are great opportunities for authors to network and learn more about the competition, and the market as a whole.

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