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Enhanced Print Books

Publishers promote their enhanced e-books, which offer quick updates, links to maps and additional data, even videos. Now, to compete – in a way – with those extras, some print books will offer extras, available at bookstores. For example, the new book by Joanne Harris, author of the bestselling “Chocolat,” is called “Peaches for Monsieur le Curé,” and it has an extra chapter that is not available on the e-reader. Are her readers that eager for something new that they’ll avoid the e-title and pick up the print edition?

Possibly. But this sort of extra is a bit sad. Print books already offer something that e-books don’t: they’re easy to scan, they’re easy to mark up and they’re easy to share. You don’t leave an ebook on your coffee table for people to browse through. A retina-display iPad may have astounding photos of space, courtesy of NASA and the Hubble Space Telescope, much better photos than even in expensive coffee-table books. But who leaves an iPad lying around for others to pick up at leisure?

Anyway, an additional exclusive chapter doesn’t seem like a great selling point. But if it gets people into the store, all to the good – I hope they buy books.

I’m not sure what will get readers into bookstores – other than a knowledgeable staff, an interesting selection, a friendly atmosphere. Neither am I sure what will get readers to buy rather than browse. Print books still do some things better than e-books, and that’s likely to remain so for a little while. I’m sorry that print is losing out to digital, but I don’t think adding an additional chapter is going to be the savior for a sector of publishing that is increasingly threatened.

Would you buy a hardcover or paperback book just because it had another chapter, or even a discussion guide?

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  • Anonymous

    It would depend on the author for me–if it was something from one of my favorite authors, sure! Or perhaps if it were a topic I was particularly interested in at the time. But in general, I don’t think one extra chapter would win out over an e-book for me.