Today IDEO released a five-minute video exploring the future of digital books. Their illustrated concepts highlight some interesting opportunity areas in the publishing industry through three distinct reading experiences:
Nelson reinforces books as critical thinking tools, providing multiple perspectives, references, and current conversations on a single subject. The layers of information beyond the book itself provide greater context and encourages a deeper dive into the book throughout history and into the future.
Coupland addresses the challenge to stay on top of the thinking and writing in our world and professional field that so many of us feel. Readers can easily keep up with "must-reads" by following what colleagues are reading and interact with them through "book clubs" and other social layers (discussions, suggestions, lists, purchases) to help each other share and learn.
Alice explores new ways for users to interact and affect written narratives by introducing non-linear and game mechanics to reading. By introducing the reader's active participation, this concept "blurs the lines between reality and fiction." Certain interactions allow the reader to transcend traditional media by utilizing geographic location, communication with characters, and user contribution to storyline and plot.
A very cool blue sky project from IDEO to say the least. I enjoyed the way they chose to compartmentalize the functionality rather than attempting to redefine the book in a single all-inclusive interface (a failure we see in most of these concept projects). This project, and examples appearing all over the industry, only further prove that the future of books in the digital age does not lie in single solution but rather a utilization of technology to better address the wants and needs of users to share, interact, and learn more through specialized design solutions. We are certainly on the precipice of a whole new world for this morphed understanding of the "book."
If you are interested in hearing more about IDEO's project, check out the interview with two of the project's designers, Duane Bray and Robert Lenne, on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show. There's also a conversation about the topic going on over at IDEO's Facebook page.
Video and photos from IDEO.
[Disclosure: Willem VanLancker was employed at IDEO at the time of this post, but was not involved in the creation of the project.]