In an experiment testing consumers’ interest in integrated print and video content, Simon & Schuster has partnered with multimedia start-up Vook to create a quartet of titles that melds print and video. The fruits of the partnership are four vooks—titles the West Coast company describes as neither book nor e-book—available as apps via the iTunes store and as web-based editions at both simonandschuster.com/aboutvook and vook.com.
Vook, backed by Brad Inman—who founded the Internet video company, TurnHere, which became a go-to producer of book trailers for publishers—worked with S&S on creating four vooks, all Atria titles, for the launch of their product. Looking to see how readers will react to the content, S&S selected a smattering of titles, all with different publishing schedules. Two--Jude Deverauz'x Promises and Richard Doetsch's novella-length thriller Embassy--are being released exclusively as vooks. Pete Cerqua's exercise title The 90-Second Fitness bowed in hardcover in 2008 and aesthetician Narine Nikogosian's make-up book Return to Beauty is coming out in hardcover in November.
The titles, priced at $6.99, feature between 13 and 17 videos each. The videos, which vary in length from a minute to two minutes, appear alongside the text and users can opt to play the content on a standalone screen or watch it within the existing print layout. (The vook format also lets users jump to specific videos.) In each case a single filmmaker worked on a book and, according to S&S, the authors and Atria’s editors coordinated closely on the creation and integration of the videos. Each vook also contains a page featuring social networking links, connecting to things like the author's Twitter feed and Twitter/Facebook conversations about the title.
Inman hopes that vooks can redefine the familiar modes of storytelling or, as Atria executive v-p and publisher Judith Curr put it, offer people a “360 degree experience.”
With Vook and S&S eager to see how the market reacts to this new presentation of content, both companies acknowledge that this first step is largely about testing the waters. Could vooks be used predominantly as promotional tools for print editions? Could they exist as viable, enhanced versions of print editions? Could they exist, as in the case of Promises, as exclusive standalones? Sue Fleming, v-p and executive director of content and programming for S&S Digital, said that, for this reason, the house looked to release vooks from across a breadth of genres in varied publishing scenarios.
Vook is talking to other houses about creating vooks and, while a release schedule has not been established, plans are currently in the works to create vooks for titles at other S&S imprints.