Vooks: What are they, and where are they headed? A recap for writers as Anne Rice's new vook debuts.

With the new digital release of vampire queen Anne
Rice’s 1984 story
“The Master of Rampling Gate” today, the question arises for
some readers and writers: What exactly is a Vook
? Moreover, does it maybe even have a shot at becoming the new go-to book somewhere down the line?

Essentially, a vook combines video elements with
text—plus links and social media—to create a format that can be accessed
through a computer or mobile device. Last year, the company launched its first
series of vooks in collaboration with Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins and
others, and a slew of new projects are in the works. We checked in with Vook
founder Bradley Inman for the May/June issue of WD to see where he thinks the
medium is heading.

How fast do you see the
format growing?
We are growing very quickly and plan
to release 750 titles in 2010. With the introduction of MotherVook, a new
technology platform that we’ve developed, the process of creating a vook will
be incredibly streamlined. This will allow us to take the author’s text and
professionally shot video, and create the final vook product very quickly and
cost effectively.

Are the days of the traditional book on their way out? 
The publishing platform is
fundamentally changing; innovation will drive a new era of multimedia books,
creating a more compelling experience and value for the reader. But I don’t see
traditional books necessarily on their way out, because the industry is
innovating and finding new ways to distribute authors’ content. It’s just about
offering consumers more choices and letting them decide what they like the

Do vooks work better for one genre or another?
Vooks are offered in a variety of
genres; we’ve found that augmenting text with video for how-to books like Return
to Beauty
and 90-Second Fitness
creates an unparalleled
reading experience. The multimedia elements also lend themselves really well to
what we like to call cookvooks
With fiction titles, videos really allow readers to visualize settings and
characters and have a more immersive experience. Education is an area we are
very interested in and excited about. We believe vooks can greatly increase the
learning experience in the classroom.

What’s the typical process for a writer making a vook?
The author works with the publisher,
their agent or at times directly with us to finalize their text, and then they
work closely with one of our professional filmmakers to set a vision for the
videos and integrate them within chapters. Then our technology combines the
text, video and links into a multimedia vook. It’s an entirely new creative
collaborative experience and we are just at the beginning of seeing where it
will go.

* * *


Feel free to take the following prompt home or post your
response (500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section
below. By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our occasional
around-the-office swag drawings. If you’re having trouble with the captcha code
sticking, e-mail your story to me at writersdigest@fwmedia.com,
with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll make sure it gets up.

Your father made the chair when he was a boy, and it’s
gotten rickety. Preparing to finally throw it away, you flip it over to carry it to
the trash, and notice a message etched in with a knife.

Learn how to help your writing career survive—and grow—in
the current economy. Break into corporate writing. Discover the art of taxes
for writers. Absorb lessons and insights from an author-turned-agent. Read
Elizabeth Berg’s thoughts on life after Oprah. Click here to check the March/April 2010 issue of WD out.

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4 thoughts on “Vooks: What are they, and where are they headed? A recap for writers as Anne Rice's new vook debuts.

  1. Zac

    Mark and Martha, sudden thought: Since we all have so much trouble posting plain text under the cruel tutelage of the Robot God, just imagine what would happen if we were posting something more graphically/futuristically intense!

  2. Mark James

    Martha . . .worth the two bucks
    Zac, . . . first the Nook. . . now Vooks. . . I’m scared to think what’s next.

    In the fireplace, flames leapt up as though tempted by angels, or perhaps enraged by demons.

    I settled back into worn leather. “It began,” I said, “with a chair.”

    “What kind of chair, Professor?”

    I looked at him over my glasses. “Why must the young be so impetuous, Detective Franklin?”

    He leaned his small notebook toward the firelight, made a note. “I don’t know, sir. I’m just wanting to know what kind of chair we’re talking about here.”

    I sighed. “A wooden one.”

    He scribbled.

    I waited.

    “I’m ready,” he said.

    I looked into the fire. “Are you?”

    He slid his notebook into a jacket pocket, pinched the bridge of his nose, as though I’d given him a monstrous headache. “You change your mind about talking to me?”

    “Don’t be absurd.” I folded my hands in my lap, the way I used to when my father called me into this very room.

    “You said you knew what happened to your wife.”

    Miriam. My heart ached at the thought of her. “I said I knew where she was.”

    “All right. Start there. Where’s she at?”

    “At peace,” I said. I felt his impatience. It filled the room as surely as the heat from the fire. “Do you have family heirlooms, Detective?”

    “You mean like stuff that gets passed down? My dad left me his house. That count?”

    “My father left me a chair.”

    “The one made from wood?”

    “Indeed,” I said. “And his father before him bequeathed it in his Last Will and Testament.”

    “That what happened? Your wife get too close to the chair? Piss you off?”

    “My father killed her.”

    “No offense, Professor, but you’re on the far side of seventy. That makes your dad what—ninety something? A ninety year old offed your wife? How come?”

    “I was going to throw the wretched thing in the trash,” I said. “But I found the message. I saw him whittle many times when I was a boy. He etched a message into the bottom of the chair.”

    “It said to kill your wife?”

    “It was a date.” I raised my eyes to him. “Tomorrow’s date, to be precise. The message beside it said, “ ‘Seek the hour of death for one you love, and you will be spared five years more.’ ”

    “Where is she?” he said.

    “There are worlds beyond the flesh, Detective, torments beyond damnation, sins beyond forgiveness.”

    “And what did you do that you can’t get forgiven, Professor?”

    I let my eyes fall on the fire again, considered the flames that had sent Miriam’s mortal remains on their final journey. “If it were not always night,” I said, “we would not seek to push back the eternal unknown with the light of the manifest world.”

    “Yeah.” He wiped a hand over his unshaven face. “Okay. I’m gonna call a friend of mine. You’ll like him. Talks like you. Big fancy words. Think you can tell him all this?”

    I nodded. “Of course. The telling is all I have left.”

  3. Martha W

    Zac – what happened to using our imagination? *sigh* Progress and all that…

    Mark – I owe $2. There’s probably a way to work bridge in here… but it wasn’t showing itself to me.


    The little rocker sat neglected in the corner, earning only an occasional glance now and then. The blue paint was worn at the seat and faded from sunlight at the back. If it was brushed against, the creak of the legs warned of its instability.

    Mickey saved the unwanted piece of furniture for last. Moving day was hard enough. Facing demons made it impossible. He stopped short of touching the rough pine and simply stared.

    His dad had made that chair over fifty years ago. Dad meant for it to be taken care of, to be part of the family, passed down to each son. Even after – Mickey couldn’t part with it.

    "Don’t just stand there. Get that eyesore and get out," his now-ex-wife said.

    Maybe there were two reasons he hadn’t fixed the chair. "I’m going."

    He grabbed the chair and, without a backward glance at the apartment or her, he left their home for good. If only he’d listened to- no. He couldn’t even think it.

    The creaking of wood with each step down three flights of stairs wore on his nerves. By the time he touched the outside door where he had parked the U-haul, he knew the thing was going in the garbage. Heirloom or not, this was it.

    As he walked past the cab of the truck, he looked in on his sleeping six year-old and the sitter he’d hired. The innocent smile that he knew turned into a mischievous grin when Alex was awake tugged at his heart. How could she live without that? Without him?

    "Has he been asleep long?"

    Becky shook her head and pressed a finger to her lips. "Shush. Just now."

    He nodded, shifted. The screech of wood on wood ran like nails over a chalkboard down his spine. "I’ll be right back."

    Mickey walked the few steps toward the dumpster, prepared to chuck it in the oily bin. He flipped the chair around to get a better grip and froze, unable to believe what he saw.

    Mickey smoothed his hand over the words scrawled there in Alex’s crooked block print. He cradled the chair in the crook of his arm, reached for his cell phone.

    He dialed the familiar number, waited for his estranged father to answer.

    "Hello." His dad sounded tired, older. Four years older, to be exact.

    "Dad." His watery reply brought on by shame from one child’s blue acrylic words.

    I Miss You, Granpa.


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