For something different in an ebook experience, check out War of the Worlds from E-Mersiv (iTunes)
I recently had the pleasure of checking out a new iPad application that is quite different from anything I've seen in the past. E-Mersiv.com has come out with an ebook platform that does more than just format the words on the page. Yes, it *does* have the traditional words on the screen, but it also adds an element of sight and sound to the reading experience. While you're reading a chapter, you hear ambient sounds that blend with the setting and scene. In addition, there are various visual effects that add to the story, helping to set a mood or accentuate the action taking place. It's an interesting intersection of visual and audio laid on top a regular ebook.
Carl Prehn, a former IBMer based here in Portland, asked me to "kick the tires" on their application given my extensive reading habits. I'll admit I'm usually a bit hesitant to review something created or written by friends, as it can make for awkward situations if I'm not as enthused about it as they hoped. In this particular case, I had nothing to worry about...
E-Mersiv (in my opinion) struck a nice balance between the primary focus of the words and the "spice" of the audio and visual effects. It'd be easy to overload the book with so much sight and sound that it would end up looking like an audio book with words or a series of choppy videos divided into chapters. Not so... the sound effects are truly ambient, and add the color that I so often overlook in my mental images when I read. For instance, when action takes place in a newspaper office, you hear typing in the background. Action outside is enhanced with street sounds specific to the time period of the story. Again, it's not overwhelming, but it frames the story. Same with the images and visual effects... There's a timing element to some of them, and depending on your reading speed, you may not hit the timing quite right. But after you see them happen a few times, you start to anticipate what may happen and look forward to the surprise. If you happen to miss it (or you're not done with the page), you can always flip back one page and then go back to the current page to reload the action.
As you can tell, I liked E-Mersiv a lot. I tend to plow through books, and I don't slow down enough to add color to the scene in my mind. E-Mersiv solves that problem for me, and it made War of the Worlds a much more enjoyable experience. I'd love to see the E-Mersiv technology applied to books on a regular basis. It would take my reading enjoyment to a whole new level.
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