Simon & Schuster Authors on “Game-Changing” Platform for Digital Book/Video Hybrid with a New “Vook”

By on 09/30/2009 10:09 PM @beet_tv

NEW YORK — In the fast-changing landscape of digital book publishing there is now something called a vook, a product and company which is a hybrid of text and video, delivered on the Web and as an iPhone download .

Simon & Schuster's Atria imprint, is working with Vook, a San Francisco-area start-up, to publish four "vooks," of both non-fiction and fiction. They are Promises, by Jude Deveraux; The 90-Second Fitness Solution by Pete Cerqua; The Embassy by Richard Doetsch and Return to Beauty by Narine Nikososian.

The multimedia products sell for $6.99 and are available on the Simon & Schuster and Vook sites and on the Apple iPhone application store. It is not yet available on Amazon. Vooks wont be available on the current crop of Kindles as they don't support video.

On Tuesday, Beet.TV did an exclusive video interview with Judith Curr, Executive VP and Publisher for Altria Books. We have published the video on this page. 

Vook was conceived and self-funded by Brad Inman, a former San Francisco Examiner business columnist who has created several digital media start-ups.  His most recent company is TurnHere, an Emeryville, California company which creates and syndicates  Web vidoes under contract to customers from hotels to local directories.

TurnHere has created a network of thousands of videographers who produce videos on assignment.  The Vook videos were created by videographers in the TurnHere network.

The deal with Simon & Schuster is not exclusive and the company plans to work with other publishers. 

In a statement, Ellie Hirschhorn, Executive VP and Chief Digital Officer of Simon & Schuster said, "Vook is a game-changing model for reading in the digital age of multimedia, the first viable combination of text and video that is user friendly and that addresses today's multitasking audience and how it absorbs information and entertainment."

Motoko Rich reports on the "bookbending experiment" in Thursday's New York Times.  Here's the story by the Associated Press.

Andy Plesser, Executive Producer

Video Transcript

Judith Curr:  I want my editorial staff to be able to be…have the skill set for the future, which is no longer just going to be about looking at linear text. And even now with promotional aspects of books: they have to be involved in video creation and assets and things so that there's a different way to tell the story. So we're calling these four new things Vooks, so, as opposed to books. And I see them as a sort of aspect for publishing for the 21st century. We're publishing four on Thursday. Two are ficition and two non-fiction and they're four different genres because we wanted to test out the whole experience of it and the idea of it and to learn something in the process rather than just sort of stick with one central idea.

So, for example, with the 90-Second Fitness, which is an exercise program, you're able to see with the video exactly how you should hold your body, exactly how many repetitions you should do when you take your Vook application to the gym, exactly how to make your ingredients for the diet that's contained in Vook, but then there's a lot of other information in there as well: what's the shopping list for all the vitamens that I should have, what are all the ingredients that I should be looking at, how many times do I do each repetition. So you actually need that piece written down so that you can just refer to that constantly. But with the fiction, what it is, it sort of, it allows you to tell a story in a new way. So, for example, you have Jude Deveraux's romance set in South Carolina in the end of the 19th century, you're able to sort of read the story about the young woman making the journey and then you can see the landscape as if it were through her eyes. You can see the costumes that she would've worn and then the story is progressed. If you want to do a side story to find out about the alter-ego of one of her characters, there's a little news reel episode that gives you that information.

Movie: Mr. Ptolemy roams the world! Steven Ptolemy was often misunderstood. Once…

Judith Curr:  So it expands the experience and it's, in a way, a wonderful way to be able to tell a story in a new way. Not replacing either the movie or the book.

I actually think there's a lot of opportunities for these for small hand-held devices because, particularily with the non-fiction and the lifestyle ones, people wait all the time. Women particularily are always waiting; you're waiting for the kids, you're waiting for the doctor, you're waiting, waiting, waiting.  So instead of just wasting that time, you can then have a sort of look at the Return to Beauty Vook and learn something about skin-care and what your shopping list should be and you're not…and you can just shut it down and resume from where you left off the next time you're waiting to pick someone up.

I always believe that you have to start and then the opportunities present themselves. I could see this as a wonderful way to be able to tell a new story without the huge expense of making a major movie because you can write…you can say things in words that are much cheaper than you can make them in film, but then you can add different atmospheric qualities to it, you can show historical material, you can give a back-story, you can run parallel universes. It would be perfect for memoirs and autobiographies because, as you're talking about your life in films then you can actually show a piece, a snippet of that person acting in that film. I think it will allow people to use their imagination in a new way. I think for the 21st century it's all about the content and the story and the information being in the center of something and then it can be expressed as a book, it can be expressed as an audio, it can be expressed as a Vook and people are going to come to the information for either the mood they're in or how they like to be entertained. And so it's endless; it's just about imagination.

Recent Videos
image
comScore Readies Measurement Tool for Connected TV’s

Responding to a dramatic increase in video consumption on connected TV’s, comScore is readying a measurement tool to tabulate views on the devices and will roll it out this year in the U.S., says Serge Matta, CEO in this video interview with Beet.TV.   He says that comScore is already measuring OTT ...

image
Tim Armstrong’s Goal of “Open” AdTech Dominance: “Open is the New Black,”...

In a  keynote address to some 500 leaders of the adtech industry gathered in New York by the investment bank boutique LUMA partners, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong shared an expansive  view on the sale of AOL to Verizon and the future of AOL.   He spoke about the future of an open, interoperarable tech stack ...

Jon Steinberg, DailyMail
DailyMail’s Steinberg: The Threat to News is the Media Agencies

It’s not porn, it’s not file sharing, yet many media agencies equate news with these unsavory categories – and they are keeping their distance and limiting ad spend. The threat to news is not the lack of journalists, it’s the way news is seen by advertisers, primarily by the ...

image
David Bell: “There Will be Roadkill in the Lumascape”

At the upcoming Cannes Lions Festival in France next month, a vast numbers adtech companies will be vying for attention but there will be an inevitable winnowing.   Consolidation will continues with the growth of larger, open platform technology companies.  “There will be roadkill in the ...

image
Being a Change Agent = Reading Trends, Simulmedia’s Dave Morgan Says

The ad market should brace itself for huge digital transformations in the next few years. Changes that have been afoot for sometime now are on the cusp of hitting the market hard, says serial entrepreneur Dave Morgan, Chief Executive Officer for Simulmedia, who talked about these shifts in the ad ...

image
China’s Search Giant Baidu in Strategic Alliance with Taboola

Baidu, China’s largest search engine, has entered into a strategic investment with content recommendation company Taboola, the companies announced today.   Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The deal gives Taboola a giant foothold in the Chinese market which does not widely use content ...

image
Video Ad Trust Is A Mess: Coull CEO Watkins

Through initiatives like the Media Ratings Council defining what truly constitutes a “viewable” ad, the industry has come a long way to eradicating fraudulent practices. But the spectrum of viewable ad-measuring platforms spawned by the search for accuracy means video ad sales are still in a ...

image
Xaxis Deal ‘Critical’ To AppNexus’ Future: CEO O’Kelley

Last year’s deal in which WPP’s Xaxis programmatic unit divested its ad-serving technology to ad tech outfit AppNexus was forged in the snowy hills of the Swiss Alps. “For five years, we had a good relationship,” AppNexus CEO Brian O’Kelley tells Beet.TV in this video interview. ...

image
Nielsen, eXelate Will ‘Co-Build Products From Day One': Zagorski

Media measurement firm Nielsen and programmatic ad tech outfit eXelate had already worked together for five years before the former’s acquisition of the latter this March. Now they are working on the same journey. “We act as their data management backbone, taking a lot of their offline data and ...

image
VivaKi Lives On After Reorg: SMG’s Delaney

Ad group Publicis’ VivaKi digital division may be moving its programmatic experts out around the group, but that doesn’t mean VivaKi is dead. “VivaKi still lives on,” says SMG programmatic SVP Mac Delaney in this video interview. “It operates the SkyScraper platform, the ...

image
Automation is Getting Deeper In To Agencies: Rubicon’s has Integration w/ Digitas

It is not just brands that can use “programmatic” tools to buy ads on exchanges. Brands’ agencies, too, can use similar technology to buy advance ads on an order basis, says ad tech outfit Rubicon Project‘s SVP Jay Sears. “We’re seeing automation go deeper and deeper in to ...

Albert Lai, Brightcove
Brightcove Touts New Ad Insertion Services

Brightcove, the big online video platform company, has expanded its advertising tools including dynamic ad insertion and ad insertion for live programming, explains Albert Lai, CTO, Media.  We spoke with him last month at the NAB Show in Las Vegas. Brightcove calls its suite of advertising tools Once. For ...

loader