Penguin Re-Defines The eBook: Is It Still A Book?

As reported this week, Penguin's CEO John Makinson previewed a new vision of eBooks. He was quoted as saying:

We will be embedding audio, video and streaming in to everything we do. The .epub format, which is the standard for ebooks at the present, is designed to support traditional narrative text, but not this cool stuff that we're now talking about.

So for the time being at least we'll be creating a lot of our content as applications, for sale on app stores and HTML, rather than in ebooks. The definition of the book itself is up for grabs.

You can watch Makinson demo some of their new interactive book concepts here:

British blogger Michael Grothaus writes an open letter to John Makinson and Penguin saying, "please don't 'reinvent' books":

An electronic format with live chat, community forums, audio and video is called a web site. Or maybe an interactive Blu-Ray disc. Books are words arranged on a page (whether paper or digital) that are meant to be assimilated through the eye and processed in the brain with the reader adding much to the story itself - like what a character looks or sounds like.

Media has become mixed, in the video book, or Vook and Anne Rice's new Vook, which just hit the market this week, already has readers asking, is it still a book, or a movie with words (remember all that text at the beginning of "Star Wars")?

Should publishers become multi-media content producers and if so, will that spell the end of the book?