Publishers are scrambling to attract readers weaned on video games and social networking by jazzing up a format little-changed since Gutenberg started churning out Bibles in the 15th century. "Vooks" add video segments, either embedded in the text or available online, to electronic books. The hybrids are being created for both nonfiction works and fiction titles like romance writer Jude Deveraux's Promises, one of four new vooks being released by Simon & Schuster today. It features short videos adding dialogue and atmosphere.
Publishers say the nature of reading is changing and they're doing their best to catch up, although readers—and authors—are split on the merits of the vook. "Reading is one of the few experiences we have outside of relationships in which our cognitive abilities grow,” mystery writer Walter Mosley told the New York Times. “And our cognitive abilities actually go backwards when we’re watching television or doing stuff on computers.”