Tech Tip: Hybrid Books
I love my e-reader. But I think it gives people the wrong impression about me.
Every morning on my bus ride to work, I skim The New York Times on my Kindle. And then, as a self-professed people watcher, I usually look around at my fellow commuters, noticing whether the women next to me are wearing pumps or white sneakers, or whether the men are carrying designer briefcases or oversized lunch bags.
Anything goes on the bus. Nobody judges.
Except for those of us holding books. With quick glances and passing smirks we size each other up: Is he reading a paperback or an iPad? I wonder if she downloaded those Kindle books for free?
By simply flashing my e-reader in public, I declare my support for the digital reading revolution. And, depending on the day, this either makes me feel proud for being an early adopter or ashamed for turning my back on the publishing industry I love.
The rift between the print and digital worlds is growing, and I’d prefer not to take sides.
Which is why I was excited to hear last week that Melville House, an independent publisher in Brooklyn, will soon release a product that brings the two worlds together.
On August 16, the company will begin publishing its HybridBook series. Customers who purchase print books within this series will have access to “Illuminations,” hundreds of digital pages of maps, essays, photographs and other supplemental material.
“We’ve been telling the prognosticators of doom and gloom that print and digital are going to co-exist,” said publisher Dennis Johnson. “And with the HybridBook program we’ve put our money where our mouth is.”
Melville House will begin by releasing five novellas, each titled The Duel, by five different authors—Anton Chekhov, Joseph Conrad, Giacomo Casanova, Heinrich von Kleist, and Alexander Kuprin. The company plans to eventually extend the project to its classics line, as well as its new releases.
The idea of enhancing books with digital content isn’t new to the publishing world. In 2009, Simon & Schuster teamed up with Vook, a multimedia company, to produce digital books that feature links to short video segments. And Hybrid’Production, a French company, sells an iTunes app with customized book soundtracks for “full immersion in the author’s universe.”
But what’s new and refreshing about the Melville House HybridBook project is that it highlights the compatibility of—rather than the competition between—print and digital media.
For paperback and Kindle readers alike, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Here’s how to access a HybridBook:
1. With smartphone: Once you’ve purchased a print title in the HybridBook series, use your smartphone to scan the QR code in the back of the book.
2. Without smartphone: Follow the URL in the back of the book and download the Illumination from the Melville House website.
3. If you choose to purchase the digital version of a book in the Hybrid series, you will automatically receive the Illuminations with your ebook.
4. Ruminate over your Illuminations.