Google experiments with ‘books that can’t be printed’

While Amazon may be taking over the e-reader category, and others may prefer the smell of the printed page, Google is experimenting with “books that can’t be printed.”

Editions at Play is an experiment coming out of Google Australia, with the books made specifically for smartphones incorporating interactive elements as part of the story.

This could include exploring story locations in Street View, or switching between two different characters’ perspectives or even including games.

“Simply put, we wanted to see if we could keep the integrity of reading, but play with the book’s digital form,” Google Australia wrote in a blog post.

Playing with storytelling

The concept of interactive books isn’t new – JK Rowling’s Pottermore originally presented similar interactive “story telling” for the Harry Potter series, and there are online literary journals, like The NonBinary Review from Zoetic Press, that offer interactive elements as well.

But Google’s Editions at Play brings a much bigger platform for authors interested in writing and developing interactive books.

Currently, there are two books up for exploring, including Reif Larsen’s Entrances & Exits, which has you exploring the story through Street View, and The Truth About Cats & Dogs, which lets you explore the story from different perspectives and encourages you to take notes.

There are two more Editions at Play books scheduled to come out in April, and Google is also asking people to tweet them ideas for future interactive books.

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