The way we learn and soak up information is always changing, along with the technology we use to access that information. Innovations in education (and in this case, those with an added entertainment factor) are always hot topics. In the past we’ve mentioned textbook alternatives, and today we introduce a new approach altogether.
In this post, I’m excited to share some Q&A with Bradley Inman, the CEO and founder of Vook, a “new innovation in reading that blends a well-written book, high-quality video and the power of the Internet into a single, complete story”. Here Inman tells us about the story behind Vook, the future he sees for the company in general and its products in higher education, and shares a bit of advice for innovators in any field. Enjoy!
What is the story behind Vook? Tell us about the people behind the idea and how you turned the idea into a reality.
I founded Vook in 2008 after seeing the value proposition of enhancing the reading experience beyond text. Previously, I founded TurnHere, an online video company that produces high quality content for publishers and other businesses, and this experience helped show me the great opportunities that existed with online video and its ability to enhance the reading experience with multi-media. Combining book + video led to the name Vook, and in 2009 we launched our first vooks in collaboration with Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette and others. In 2010, we’re focused on developing relationships with publishers, agencies and authors of all kinds and continuing to release new vooks in a variety of genres throughout the year.
I noticed only a few available vooks. What’s in the lineup to be released soon?
We are growing very quickly and plan to release over 500 titles in 2010. We recently developed a publishing technology tool called MotherVook, which will allow us to streamline the creation of an individual vook. The MotherVook technology will make it very easy, fast and cost-effective to integrate the author’s text with professional video and other multi-media elements in the creation of each vook and will ultimately allow Vook to publish hundreds of titles each week.
We recently announced a new series of vooks devoted entirely to children’s titles, including “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” “The Frog Prince: Stories from Around the World,” “Jack and the Beanstalk” and two volumes of “Grimm’s Fairy Tales,” which consist of ten of the most well-known stories such as “Rapunzel,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Snow White,” “Red Riding Hood” and “Rumpelstiltskin.” This library builds on a growing, diverse group of genres and subjects Vook has produced, including vooks from bestselling writers Anne Rice and Seth Godin.
Do you see a future for Vook in the world of education, specifically higher education? If so, where do you see it going?
There’s certainly a strong future for Vook in the realm of higher education, and it’s an area we are very interested in. With Vook, students will be able to engage with their textbooks and class materials on a much more in-depth level than ever before. As opposed to a traditional e-book, which only offers text, Vook is a multi-media ebook, which adds another dimension to reading by blending text, video, images, links, social media and animation into one medium. This allows readers to have a much more immersive experience, bringing characters to life, and showing step-by-step instructions in a how-to video. Vooks also incorporate social networking, so students can take part in discussions with their classmates, teachers and professors.
For example, you can imagine a medical student’s textbook that seamlessly incorporates videos and animation of a complex procedure alongside its description in the text, or a history book that links to websites with additional historical context. The possibilities for vooks in higher education are endless.
Do you think vooks will eventually beat out traditional books and the more modern ebooks?
We currently see vooks complimenting traditional books. In many situations, a reader will turn to a Vook because they are interested in going beyond the text and immersing themselves in the story with a multi-media experience. Also, vooks are a matter of convenience, allowing readers to access vook content anywhere they have an internet connection or a mobile phone signal.
While the publishing platform is fundamentally changing to include a new era of multimedia books, I don’t see this as necessarily replacing traditional books. Ultimately, it’s about offering consumers more choices, to let them decide what they prefer.
What advice do you have for today’s innovator, in any field (education, technology, business, etc.)?
My advice would be to always be looking ahead to see what’s coming. You might not be the one creating the iPad, but you can create an application that’s timed to take advantage of its capabilities. To an innovator in any field, I would challenge them to imagine and then create the future.