A Selection of Fascinating E-book Innovations From the Past Year

For all the continued hand-wringing about the end of books, there’s equal (if slightly more tentative) excitement about the realm of e-books and all the nebulous possibilities therein. We’ve noticed a recent distinct uptick in announcements about innovations and new initiatives in the last few weeks and months, so we’ve collected a few of the ones that most interest us here. Check them out after the jump, and let us know which other e-reader developments have got your interest piqued in the comments.


Faber and Faber’s Digital Version of John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps

As it stands, most e-books are simply digital texts, without too many bells and whistles. But Faber and Faber is going much farther with its interactive, visual version of John Buchan’s classic The Thirty-Nine Steps. The app, constructed by The Story Mechanics, will engage readers by allowing them to “unlock dozens of achievements and items to collect on their reading journey, and explore hundreds of hand-painted digital environments and context from 1910s Britain.” Henry Volans, head of Faber Digital, explained, “The Story Mechanics have come up with something completely new in the landscape of fiction ebooks. It’s a new way of reading with John Buchan’s story at its heart, presented afresh through a TV and gaming-inspired lens… Too often publishers ask themselves how they can bolt something on to a finished novel, like retro-fitting a car. This is posing a much more profound challenge: it’s a novel in conceived form written on bespoke software.” The novel as video game — likely to get more people to read, at least.