Welcome to the Immersive Storytelling Blog

This is my first post on the Immersive Storytelling blog.  New posts will be about some element of immersive storytelling.

I suspect you are asking yourself the question: What is Immersive Storytelling? In order for me to answer, I think it best if I provide a little background on electronic storytelling.

On July 4, 1971, Michael Stern Hart received a printed copy of the United States Declaration of Independence. Inspired and having access to a significant amount of computing power, provided by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he typed the text into a computer and transmitted it to other users on the network. Today considered a simple task,  it became a technological innovation, and the invention of the electronic book or ebook. Digitization and distribution of literature became his life’s work.  He also founded Project Gutenberg the same year.

Since then a number of ebook formats have been developed. PDF, Mobipocket, Kindle Format 8 (KF8), Nook, iBooks Author, EPUB 2, EPUB 3 and a number of other proprietary formats are in use today. Electronic publishing or e-publishing include the digital publication of ebooks, digital magazines, textbooks, children’s books, comic books, and newspapers and can be read on a number of different devices. However, no individual format can be read across all devices. Development on these formats, with Apple’s iBooks Author an exception, has been extremely slow.

A bibliophile and early adapter of ebooks I was facinated by their convenience. I could highlight words, sentences, paragraphs and look up definitions without leaving the page. I was intrigued by the turning pages effect. And most of all, it was a simple solution to my already overcrowded bookshelves.

The door to the future opened: audio books, interactive ebooks and enhanced ebooks made their appearance. The publishing industry was becoming exciting. The ability to purchase your favorite author’s new novel instantly from the comfort of your home felt so Jestsonian.

Enhanced ebooks embedded with audio, video, pictures, and animations provided a window to the future of e-publishing. Interactive elements in ebooks turned readers into participants.

At the London Book Fair in 2011 Evan Schnittman, a Bloomsbury executive  declared enhanced ebooks and apps essentially dead. The publishers conundrum was the market did not allow them to deliver the same enhanced ebook across all current digital platforms. The higher cost of publishing an enhanced ebook with a limited market could not be justified.

Then in January, 2012 Apple announced its free iBooks Author Program making it extremely easy for authors to produce and publish their own ebooks complete with audio, videos and interactive 3D pictures.

Everyone with an iPad will probably remember E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth, Steven King’s 11/22/1963 enhanced edition novel, and Nancy Duarte’s Resonate all fine examples of enhanced ebooks.

Years ago, I recall reading an article about Mark Andrew Staufer’s Kickstarter Project The Numinous Place  what he referred to as “The world’s first truly multidimensional work of fiction.” An elaborate enhanced ebook with news reports, videos, documents, articles, diagrams, photos and phone calls. I was quite intrigued by the prospects of the project. (He raised $75K and the project never made it to market.)

The industry’s lack of interest developing ebook formats contribute to the neglect of inspiration, creativity, and inventiveness of authors and publishers.

I do not believe, for one moment, enhanced ebooks and apps are dead as predicted by Evan Schnittman, the executive who left Bloomsbury for a very short stay at Hachette Book Group, New York. Popular primetime television shows have interactive apps and encourage participation. Grimm The Essential Guide was a very successful enhanced ebook. J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore just announced the enhanced editions of the Harry Potter novels. All seven iBooks will contain over 223 enhancements.

This is a limited market.  Not all readers want to participate in an interactive novel or to devote the time it takes to read an enhanced novel. The limited technology of the digital formats will eventually be developed, more and more authors will take advantage and the market share will grow. Like it or not ebooks are the future of the publishing industry.

Enhancements are extras that make an ebook more interesting, informative or interactive. They are also a way to add new content or functionality that would not be possible in the print edition. (ebooksarchitects.com)

immersive    ih-mur-siv    (adjective)

noting or pertaining to digital technology or images that deeply involve one’s         senses and may create an altered mental state: immersive media; immersive 3-D environments.

In immersive storytelling cinematics are embedded into pages with corresponding text, may or may not include audio, and have no interactive element other than the actual turning of the page.

A reader of an enhanced ebook while investigating a drawing, animation, video or audio element risk departure from the storyline. Cinematics used in immersive storytelling arouse the reader’s senses and immerse them into the story’s world.

In my iBook VORMUND a short story of historical fantasy I use cinematics as an aid for the reader to See the Words.

To kickoff the start of my blog I have created another short video highlighting some different cinematics in immersive storytelling. Follow the link above.

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