Do we need a multi-faceted content strategy for eBooks?

There is some uniformity of presentation and interaction at the eReader level, but not for enhanced books and tablet functionality. It seems to me that we need a multi-faceted approach to a content strategy for eBooks.

There are a lot of eBooks being churned out in a very short period of time from self publishers, mid-size publishers, and well established large publishers. Most are pretty traditional renditions of books, others are enhanced books and yet others are going beyond the book paradigm entirely and edging into applications. I believe that what we need is a process for developing a content strategy for different “levels” of content:

-Level 1, traditional “print” (pretty much a typical file save as…)
-Level 2, enhanced book, (interweaving of rich media, text, graphics and potentially some interactivity)
-Level 3, not really sure what to call this, but “content as app” (an application which is heavily integrated with content, or maybe a content heavy app)

There is going to be the requirement for Level 1, traditional “print”, for a while yet because it is the most familiar format and users are still very comfortable with it. But we have some serious issues with wayfinding (where am I, where was I, how much more is there to read, how “big” is this thing anyway) and “book” replacement functionality (e.g., annotations). Some people are perfectly comfortable with their eReader and don’t want anything more than that. It would be really nice if the eReader vendors took a look at the wealth of knowledge in the online documentation/help realm. We could come up with a pretty decent content strategy if we had the hardware/software to support it. Most of what we have has a very limited functionality.

Level 2, enhanced books, is just brushing the realm of possibility with interactivity and rich media. We need a content strategy that is appropriate for this type of content. We can learn from eLearning design and rich media design.

Level 3, content as app, is the most “fuzzy” at the moment. We can learn from application design and gaming design.

Many publishers may want to optimize their content by making it available on multiple eReaders, mobile devices, and the iPad. What is the content strategy for a mixed channel distribution?

Much like we design content strategies for traditional multichannel delivery, or for multichannel and social, this is just one more facet of the strategy though a pretty fuzzy one at the moment.


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