The One Question You Should Ask Yourself Before You Use Media in Your eBook

Integrating media into eBooks is a popular concept. The question is, "Is it good for your eBook?" Ask yourself the following question to determine whether you want to add the extra expense of creating and gathering media for inclusion in your eBook.

Will the media experience enhance your reader's experience or diminish it?

Let's consider fiction, such as the novel.

What makes works of fiction so compelling? Isn't the ability of the author to create pictures in our minds that make it hard to put the book down? So how could media enhance your reader's experience or diminish it?

Let's ask another question to get to the answer. Why does a Hollywood version of a book never satisfy? Isn't it because it doesn't measure up to the experience you had as a reader? In the same way, if you control too many aspects of the "visual" experience of your reader in a fiction eBook, you short-circuit the creative experience. You could even degrade your book to the level of a video game storyline.

At the same time, you can enhance your reader's experience by adding audio media to a scene where music plays a role in the story line. Background sounds that are described in the story could be part of the audio experience, bringing the story to life without controlling to much of the reader's experience. You could add pictures of the neighborhood the character is walking through if this would heighten the experience of the story.

We forget that before the advent of cinema, almost all books were illustrated. Publishers used the media of their day to give their readers something to swirl their imaginations around. In an eBook, we can update that concept by giving just enough media experiences to enhance the imagination without controlling it.

Let's consider non-fiction, such as how-to books and history.

If you don't know how to cook, do you turn to a cookbook or to YouTube? Chances are you'll go to YouTube. That's why a cookbook author today should seriously consider adding media to the eBook version and including a CD or DVD with any hard copy versions of the book. There's no question that adding instructional videos will enhance the reader's experience.

It doesn't matter what a reader wants to learn about, many non-fiction titles may benefit from the addition of media.

  • A book on facelifts will be more meaningful if video clips are included on how procedures are done.

  • A book about a certain time in history will be enhanced by slide shows incorporating photographs or paintings of the era. Audio files can also add valuable insights into the times. Of course if the history is more recent, care must be exercised to not use copyrighted video, yet it can be worth securing rights to use certain clips if the footage is compelling.

  • A book on how to prune fruit trees will be more user-friendly if certain techniques are shown visually, rather than only depending on static illustrations and descriptions.

You may be concerned that the media you include in your eBook has to be professional quality. Take a lesson from YouTube. Your video needs to be clear enough to see and the audio clear enough to understand. Beyond that, a flip-cam will do the job for many projects. It's not as much about looking glitzy as it is about delivering really good content. Get your delivery down, and your demonstration on how to turn whatchamacallits into gizmos will be just as effective as something recorded in a studio.

Your primary goal in adding media to any eBook is to add something useful to your reader. If the media you have does that, then why not use media to complement your message? It will make your eBook more attractive to buyers.

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