Tuesday, February 3, 2009

V-books - YouTube like videos for a fee?

HarperCollins is now offering downloads of v-books on Amazon.com’s digital download store wsj.com is reporting today.


The first book that I’m aware of is Jeff Jarvis’ “What Would Google Do?” The book costs $9.99, is 23 minutes long and is available for download to PCs and mobile devices. Based on the two minute sample on Amazon it appears this v-book is little more than Jarvis speaking into the camera for the full video duration.

Personally, I like the idea especially as relates to business books. Many times I’ll by a business book for $25+ get half way through and put it down. Sometimes I just don’t have the time to read a full business book and let’s face it they can be quite dry. If publishers can synthesize the key points of a business book into 20 or so engaging minutes then they may be on to something.

Of course some business books you just have to read in full format, especially when there are detailed case studies that are critical to understanding the author’s conclusions. And not sure I would be interested in a fiction v-book (there’s something about reading a good piece of fiction that I’m sure would be lost in the translation).

Another alternative for the time challenged business reader is Soundview’s Executive Book Summaries. Annual subscriptions run from $119 - $169. For that you get 30 six to eight page summaries of the top business books published in a given year.

I have subscribed and like the service. While 30 summaries a year is a manageable number, the downside is that it’s likely that quite a few of the titles may not interest you since they span all business categories (marketing, finance, HR, manufacturing, etc).

From what I saw on the Amazon.com demo, the production quality of these v-books’ may not be much better than the average video you see on YouTube but that's not really the point. Worth a try even though $9.99 seems a bit pricey.

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