Transmedia and iBooks Author

A few things transmedia is not:

Transmedia is not covering your book with photos, illustrations, comic strips, wigs, makeup and heels. That’s called cross dressing. Uh . . . I mean, that’s called multimedia. And multimedia has been going on as long as there have been pictures in books.

Is this what your “transmedia” book looks like?

Transmedia is not crossing genres. “Ooo, I’m writing a horror graphic novel but wouldn’t it be amazing if I had newspaper clippings in the text?” No, that’s not transmedia. It’s not nibbling one or two bites of tortilla, it’s eating the whole enchilada! It’s not getting a nip here and a tuck there, it’s the whole gender-bender surgery.

And for heaven’s sake it’s not simply tweeting as your character.

Transmedia is giving your readers and viewers an immersive experience


Transmedia is helping your readers and viewers connect with your characters in a deeper way.

Read more about it at the always cool and ever awesome¬†Clay Morgan’s site. Check out his transmedia article (I have a few words in the article as well).

One recent example of transmedia is the film¬†Five-Year Engagement’s wedding blog. Jason Segel and Emily Blunt will be posting YouTube videos as their characters. This means that even before I walk into the theater to watch the movie, I’ll know a bit about these characters, I’ll have heard their voice, know a bit of their backstory, and I’m already predisposed to like them (or not like them.) The first vlog:

Other examples of transmedia are: BZRK by Michael Grant, Aisling’s Diary by beActive Media, Cathy’s Book by Sean Stewart, Year Zero album by Nine Inch Nails, Pandemic by Lance Weiler & Chuck Wendig, and so many, many more.

Transmedia is very attractive to me. After all, it’s like an RPG without the game controllers, or 20 sided dice, or fuzzy haired Paladin guzzling Dr Pepper in your living room.

I’ve been interested in this for a while, but was frustrated at the lack of hardware/software for it. After all, if I wrote a book with songs, sound effects, illustrations, photographs, video, holographic images, vibrations, and sea mist … I wouldn’t have a devise that could sync with it, unless I wanted it all to be on the internet (sans holographics, vibrations, and sea mist of course).

We can’t do THIS yet.

Perhaps we don’t want THIS immersive of an experience.


You heard right. iBooks Author . . . enchanting spell . . . software . . . transmedia . . . +21 points damage to Kindle and Nook. It’s all so beautiful I want to cry.

I downloaded the iBooks Author software the day it came out and have been writing on it ever since. This is a game changer, folks. It’s providing the immersive transmedia experience books have been trying for but weren’t able to provide due to lack of synchrisity. But now it’s here.

iBooks Author makes it easy (and I mean really easy) to include video, sound, links, and images into the text. So while you’re happily reading your book you can watch the coinciding video and flip through a mock photo album without having to switch media devises.

If you’re familiar with Apple’s products such as Pages or Keynote, then the software is a breeze to work with. I’ve been working on it all week and I’m not sure if I ever want to write on anything else. It’s just so conducive to create, and my imagination runs wild with all the ways I can tell stories with it.

Apple always gets some flak for being exclusive, and it’s true . . . if you write a transmedia book for the iPad it’s exclusive to the iPad. But to me, that’s like saying, “Penguin created a new way to print books and they aren’t going to let anyone else in on it, don’t they suck?” No. It’s just business. Besides, what would the Kindle and Nook do with an ePub transmedia book anyway? It doesn’t have what it takes to display it.

I’m looking forward to the creative teams this will unite. Photographers and directors will work with authors and artists and bakers and blacksmiths and engineers and graphic designers and astronauts and aliens . . . okay, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. But this is a whole new way to tell a story. And we’ll need to team up to do it. I’m sure it’s going to be clunky, and we’ll see some terrible work come out of transmedia, but what’s new? That’s the story for every genre.

For my mom, who would rather call people than email, she might not enjoy a transmedia experience . . . she’ll just want to read a book. But for my little sisters, who’ve grown up with iPods, internet, and Webkinz . . . they will eat. $ it. $ up. $

What do you think about transmedia storytelling?

About these ads
Leave a comment


  1. Elizabeth

     /  January 26, 2012

    In theory, the iBooks Author platform sounds great, but the exclusivity thing made me really nervous. I blame Writer Beware ( I’d rather try to create cross-platform book apps, if I go the transmedia route. (Which I might for my kids books when I get back to them.)

    • Very cool! I love the video idea and music to go with a particular scene. It adds so much drama!

    • EllieAnn

       /  January 26, 2012

      The cross-platform apps might be best for some people, but it’s not taking advantage of the full transmedia experience iBooks Author can give you. It just depends on what works well with your book!

  2. This is further proof that I am SO behind the times always. I just now figured out that books can be downloaded onto little a e-book-reader-internet-wizard thingy. Old-fashioned as I am, this sounds really cool. My struggle would be figuring out how to write a story around Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” :)

  3. Great post, Ellie! I’ll definitely be checking out the iBook Author software.

  4. Ellie Ann I’m really glad you posted this. I hadn’t even heard of the term Transmedia, but it certainly makes sense. This is just more social media that we authors will need to be aware of and embrace as we plan our careers smartly.

  1. The End is Near (and we deserve it). . . . Man Marries Corpse Bride « Author Piper Bayard
  2. January 2012 Departmental Mash-Up of Awesomeness « Lessons From Teachers and Twits
  3. What is Transmedia Story-Telling? |

Your thoughts on the matter...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 399 other followers

%d bloggers like this: