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Enhancing the e-Book Experience


I shy away from looking at pictures of myself.  Yet, despite the nausea I feel at the prospect of my video appearing in public, I’m completely fascinated with the enhanced e-book version of Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go that will be available this week.  (Please keep reading… I promise this is NOT a sales pitch!)

If you’re not familiar with the enhanced e-book format (I wasn’t until recently), it’s an extension of the online book platform.  It begins with a standard e-book; but then it gets packed full of additional content that’s delivered in short video clips.

At present, there are relatively few enhanced e-books in circulation. But that number is growing.

With the digital explosion of smartphones and tablets, non-fiction book publishers with lifelong learning content will increasingly move from passive learning via text to active learning via a combination of text, audio, video, animation, games, and interactive exercises to enable a deeper educational experience with higher long-term retention, resulting in a higher propensity to use the newly acquired skills and ideas in everyday lives.”  – David Marshall, Vice President of Editorial and Digital.

What’s fascinating to me is the way multiple media forms have converged in service of learning… and the possibilities this convergence brings.

Today, the technology is clearly in its infancy. Bandwidth issues present challenges. And inconsistent practices and progress among the major booksellers force larger publishers to design to the lowest common denominator.

But… I can imagine a time (in the not-so-distant future) when it will be commonplace for readers via any electronic device to:

  • Unlock, aggregate, and organize vast, searchable repositories of an author’s research, writing, and thought leadership with a single click… right in an enhanced ebook.
  • Decide the objective of reading or depth desired and have the content configured for that level of detail… right in an enhanced ebook.
  • Select a musical track to compliment their reading… right in an enhanced ebook.
  • Better internalize skills and techniques by clicking on hundreds of embedded audio and video examples that bring concepts to vivid life… right in an enhanced ebook.
  • Engage in quizzes, assessments, and other activities that will automatically tailor the content based on the evaluation or results… right in an enhanced ebook.
  • Apply and practice new approaches through sophisticated simulations and games they can launch… right in an enhanced ebook.
  • Connect with other readers, establish communities, and keep the conversation going.. right in an enhanced ebook.
  • Automatically create personalized, printable abridged selections based upon the content they’ve read or highlighted or on the time spent on particular pages… right in an enhanced ebook.
  • Connect with authors real-time to engage in a dialogue that’s captured for future review and reference… right in an enhanced ebook.

As a learning professional, I’m excited about how this technology will morph in the future… and how it will further expand an individual’s ability to acquire, explore, and perhaps even apply new knowledge.

What about you? What can you imagine enhanced e-books doing? What would you like them to do?

Want to experience this enhanced e-book for yourself? Apple has kindly provided us with a few free downloads.  Just leave a comment here and we’ll email your personal code.


  1. I like the look of your not so distant future, especially the social aspect within the book. I think ebooks and their readers will take what we read and recommend new resources, books etc based on our notes and hghlights.

    • I totally agree, Brent. And, while my reading list is already so long, I think I’d appreciated truly targeted recommendations that would add value. Thanks so much for your comment!

  2. The digital world, of reading, can open up all sorts of possibilities that have happened at a flashing speed in the last half century.
    But, since it would take quite some time to transfrom everything that has been printed till now, few old-school persons, like me, can look forward to enjoy both worlds.

  3. I want enhanced e-books to take me deeper into the minds of the author, or provide a video lesson that relates to a point in the book.

  4. I can imagine enhanced e-books providing connections to other readers, sort of a virtual book club. So the notes that readers make while reading the book become available to everyone. Where readers can chat real time with the book open in front of them. Where the author can walk a group of readers right through the book, teaching a class (recorded or real time) by manipulating the e-book.

    • That is so awesome, Joseph! The possibilities for adding richness, depth, and analysis are truly mind-blowing. Thanks for sharing your imaginings!

    • This is one of the best ideas I have heard for the learning and sharing process. This needs to be made a reality.

  5. I love the fact that everyone can be involved in launching a new method of delivery. How different that is from “the old days.”

    Your vision for a future world of books is invigorating. Thanks for putting it out there and for putting out your great employee conversation direction in your book.

    • Thanks, Paul, for your comment. It really could completely change the reading experience!

  6. Isn’t the digital age so exciting! In some respects we already experience that through the context of a blog.. a perpetual e-book of sorts. How wonderful to be able to add layers of learning with different modalities!

  7. Julie, is this available only on Apple products? If not, I’d love a chance to experience this enhanced format. Being able to interact through videos and discussions, right from the book, sounds amazing and ever-so-helpful.

    • Right now, the enhanced e-book is only available on iTunes and at Barnes and Nobles. Thanks for asking, Elizabeth.

  8. Congrats! I’ve been a fan and proponent if Enhanced E-Books for almost 2 years, and am excited to see your title in this format.
    Re-imagining books!

  9. I’ve never heard of this enhanced ebook but it sounds so cool. I’m a tech junkie so I’m sure I’ll love it.

  10. Right now, the biggest problem I have with the eBook concept is that it still has the word “book” in it. Most providers, Kindle, iBooks, etc. seem content with the fact that they have provided a portable, slightly more convenient format. But it is still just words on a page. I’d like to see us make the leap from “book” to “interactive learning experience.” This concept could combine the best of what we know about Web-based Training and book authoring. I haven’t seen any tools out there that promote this type of blending. iBooks Author is a start, but it is very limited. I’d like to see more power behind the interactions and a complete package that gives the “reader” (or learner) more options for exploring the material.


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