Today, the Twelve imprint of Hachette is releasing an ambitious enhanced e-book version of Sebastian Junger’s War, his nonfiction exploration of the trials encountered by American soldiers in Afghanistan, based on his own experience embedded with them.
Like most enhanced e-books (if one can make generalizations about this new genre, and in this case, Hachette is calling War and "enriched" e-book), the main enhancement in War is video, but unlike most other books, War is only half of the project from which the book arose: the other half is the documentary film Restrepo, co-created by Junger and filmmaker Tim Hetherington, which covers much of the same territory as the book, but in an entirely different medium. The War enhanced e-book comes packed not only with footage from the film, which will have its world television premier on the National Geographic Channel on November 29, but also extra footage filmed for, but not used in, Restrepo. There are 52 minutes of video in the enhanced e-book.
Cary Goldstein, associate publisher of Twelve, thinks this is a good value proposition. “A lot of people are adding bonus material, but I’m not sure of any enhanced e-books that have come out tie the material in the book as directly or as relevantly as this does,” Goldstein told PW. Hetherington and Junger embeded together, so actual instances on the battlefield or among the soldiers described or quoted in the book are also presented on film in the enhanced edition. “As you’re reading you can link to video of skirmishes they filmed, interviews, they quoted,” said Goldstein.
Goldstein also noted another unusual hook for this enhanced e-book: one of the soldiers covered in it, Sal Giunta, will be receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor tomorrow, November 16, becoming the first living person to do so since Vietnam. The enhanced e-book offers accounts, in words and video, of the events for which he is receiving the honor. You can watch a 15-minute video about Giunta here.
The War enhanced edition will be published as an ePub e-book, not an app (for more on apps, see our story from today’s print PW), readable in iBooks or other e-reading apps or devices that support ePub and can play video. It sells for $16.99