• Vook = video + book

    Image via Entertainment Weekly

    Contestant: "I'll take 'Electronic Readers' for $1000, Alex"

    Trebek: This is what you get when you cross a book with video content.

    Contestant: What is a Vook?

    Trebek: Correct!

    If someone had asked me the other day what a vook was, I would have said it sounded like something that belongs in a difficult category on Jeopardy. But it turns out that there's nothing overly complex or arcane about a "vook." In fact, the "vook" may sound vaguely familiar to some, as the idea has apparently been bounced around for a while. (I was probably busy jailbreaking my mom's iPhone during that discussion. Who has time to read anyway, right?)

    But thanks to Simon and Schuster, it looks like many of us could soon grow more familiar with these digital book/video hybrids than we may presently anticipate.

    From the New York Times this week:

    In a book-bending experiment combining film and prose, Simon & Schuster and Vook, a multimedia company that produces video content for books, are releasing four digital titles in which links to short video segments are seamlessly interspersed throughout the text.
    Essentially, these “vooks” are viewable on any browser-based device, including the iPhone and iPod Touch. Yet it isn't meant to compete with electronic readers like Amazon’s Kindle because that particular device can't support video. According to Simon and Schuster, vooks allow "readers to seamlessly read, watch, and enjoy both text and video at the same location on their screen."

    Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, is rolling out four initial titles as vooks. They include: “The 90-Second Fitness Solution” by Pete Cerqua, “Return to Beauty: Old World Wisdom and Recipes for Great Skin” by Narine Nikogosian, “Promises,” by Jude Deveraux, and “Embassy,” by Richard Doetsch.

    The “vooks” will be sold on the Web sites of Simon & Schuster and Vook for $6.99 apiece. Versions for the iPhones will be available in the Apple App store for a promotional price of $4.99.
    Are vooks anything to really get excited about?

    I think the answer for now is "maybe."

    I can't image that someone like Steve Jobs (who also seems to share my opinion that few people still read these days) won't be interested to see how well vooks perform in the coming months. Since there is an indirect relationship with Apple here - at least in that vooks can be enjoyed on Apple devices - an overwhelming show of success could prompt Apple to proceed with an electronic reader of its own.
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