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What Content Marketers Need to Know About Interactive eBooks

London – A City Through Time By Heuristic-Media

If it’s true that brands are becoming publishers, then the quiet revolution occurring in book publishing should make us all sit up and listen. Mention “digital book” and many still think of a print book viewed on a Kindle or iPad screen. Erase that thought.

Let’s first run through what “eBook” means within the publishing industry in its various forms:

  • eBook: A static, “print” book presented on a screen. Imagine the reading experience on the Kindle e-ink display. You can increase the size of your font or highlight sections of interest, but you generally read it much as you would read a print book, with very little (if any) interactivity.
  • Enhanced eBook: Just as the name suggests, an enhanced eBook offers greater interactivity and multimedia integration. Publishers can tie in video or audio, and readers share their annotations with other readers.
  • Interactive eBook: The interactive eBook takes advantage of the tablet’s touch screen to deliver a wholly interactive “reading” experience. You direct the storyline and experience content not only in word, but in sight and sound as well.  Interactive eBooks use videos, three-dimensional diagrams, interactive infographics, animation, text markups and quizzes—among many other tricks.

To find examples of what is possible across the range of eBook categories, look at Most of the examples are children’s books, but they offer a glimpse of the outer reaches of what is possible in this exciting new form.

Examples of interactive eBooks

With the advent of HTML5 and the fast-growing adoption of tablets, we expect interactive eBooks to move beyond niche markets like children’s publishing, where they’ve gained a foothold. Here’s a look at three marketing-focused books provided by Jennifer Flemming from Tall Grass PR that use digital content in new and interesting ways.

Do or Die by Clark Kokich 

Do or Die is the first business book published exclusively as a fully interactive app. The book outlines how businesses survive and thrive in a world of never-ending technological change.

What’s cool? It offers hyperlinked video interviews with the likes of Carol Kruse of ESPN, Shiv Singh from PepsiCo and profiles case studies of big brands: Nike, MillerCoors and Virgin America, among others. Readers can comment on content in real time and review what others have written while reading the book.

The Zappos Experience by Joseph Michelli

There are two reasons I want to work at Zappos. One, I love-love-love shoes (my husband just shuddered) and two, it sounds like fun! Cupcake competitions? Conga lines in the office?

What’s cool? McGraw Hill says it best: “The book has been ‘Zappified’ using the Zapponian combination of technology, service, and a heaping dose of humor.” There are 17 QR codes throughout the book that link to digital content, including an epic Nerf battle at Zappos headquarters. Check out the “Do Not Click Here” QR code on page 90!




Running the Gauntlet by Jeffrey Hayzlett

His latest takes it to the next level using SnapTags, a customizable 2D mobile barcode.

What’s cool? Like a QR code, SnapTags enable mobile activation. But unlike its sometimes-clumsy cousin, SnapTags are much cooler looking and easier to use. SnapTags can be created from a company’s logo, a symbol or even a photo. Even better, a SnapTag is activated via any mobile device using the camera app. Simply “snap” a picture of the SnapTag and send it to a designated short code.

Getting started with interactive eBooks

Many brands-turned-publishers now have libraries of multimedia content — from video to podcasts and blogs — and should ask themselves a couple of questions:

  • Will these new forms help tell their stories in new and compelling ways?
  • Can touch-screen interactivity enhance the reading or educational experience, or is it simply a new shiny object to road test?

Want more content marketing inspiration? Download our ultimate eBook with 100 content marketing examples.