Eveda: How NOT To Do A Digital Book

Someone in Comments wanted me to take a look at this.

It’s a textbook example of why digital books have gained more skeptics than supporters.

I really recommend enlarging each of these and looking at them.

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The default language is Russian …

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… although selecting English is really not much of an improvement:

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Interface Sin: It uses a Flash-based page-flip animation to mimic print:

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… the only time I’ve seen that done well is at the Internet Archive.

What’s even worse is that the page flips seem to go to chapter starts — not from page to page of the text!

This is where you can begin reading — and I don’t recall how the hell I got there:

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Beginning to read…

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The text is bizarrely all-centered! Wrong!

And see how the page is opaque, how the background image bleeds through? Wrong!

Here’s a Compound Interface Sin:

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The page has two interfaces! Arrows in the upper right corner for Back/Forward and a scrollbar to move up/down within the text. Wrong!

ScrollMotion does something similar with its Iceberg iPhone reading app — scroll up/down and swipe back/forward — but I understand why they’re doing that (an explanation in a future post, for those who haven’t figured it out). Here, it makes no sense whatsoever.

After the text has been read and dismissed, there are three options:

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Clicking on Picture…

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… displays a confusing montage of images of different sizes whose relation to one another is not easily discerned. And there is annoying music with this too. Wrong.

Clicking the third option, Play …

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… brought up six squares, of unknown purpose.

Clicking on the sixth one …

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… brought up a teletype-like character-by-character display of text.

At this point, I’d had enough.

This is all just so wrong. Design isn’t about what you can do, what you can add — design is about knowing what can be done and not doing all of it. And great design is knowing what to leave out.

This digital book is not an end result of design — it’s the end result of a failed conspiracy.

The home page is even worse:

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It’s things like this that have engendered an army of enemies against the term “digital book.” People look at this agglomeration of randomness and have the idea planted in their heads that the future is going to offer them a mess.

Vook’s web interface shows what’s possible with the digital book. Something that looks simple is the product of the hardest thinking possible. It’s the complex and nonsensical that’s the end-result of non-thought.

That’s something Microsoft never understood — and still doesn’t understand. The only time Microsoft approached glimpsing the power of true design was with Microsoft Reader — which it abandoned.

Apple understands design nearly completely. Which is why the iPhone has not just sold in the millions, but is also actively impacting the entire DNA of Internet too.

If this hasn’t deterred you, or you have a morbid curiosity about how design can fail, begin at the Eveda Home Page. [Update: fixed link]

The Eveda Blog reveals they have the enthusiasm for digital books. They just don’t know how to do them right.

9 Responses to Eveda: How NOT To Do A Digital Book

  1. Whoa. Wrong in so many ways.

  2. Georg Haller says:

    I thank for fast testings and a short sight at one of our Multimedia Ebooks. Misters jurymen already have a verdict?
    The simple interface is necessary for simple things, for example for compilation of video-clips and the explanatory text (Vook). When you add other media (a sound, plot interactivity, narration auxiliary functions, imagination of the reader) that you are compelled to complicate the interface.
    After all not all are limited only to five steps for testing, and not only one possibility of sale on iPhone.
    In any case – thanks!
    Now to us it is clear, why it is not necessary to do simple combination of videoclips with the text for sale on iPhone.

  3. Georg Haller says:

    And still. In our opinion, the most important thing in the book is a plot and idea of a narration. Alas, you it did not interest in our Multimedia Ebook. And at Vook – it is not present in general. Therefore, Vook is at not a the book. Who will read letters when it is possible to look video?

  4. Georg Haller says:

    Why you do not understand in Russian? Now it is fashionable and favourable. Or – you learn the Chinese?

  5. mikecane says:

    @Georg: The subject of monetary reform interests me, so I actually did *read* the first chapter of the book. And that’s an effort, given the bad English.

    The subject of properly integrating video into a digital book is a post I am working on right now.

  6. This is a 2006 work, and I think that it lacks of the problems that Eveda sees in the russian ebook. The flash version of the spanish webnovel Don Juan en la frontera del espíritu: http://www.cervantesvirtual.com/portal/litElec/webnovelaJJDiez/ has a more pleasant and workable interface.

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