READING IN AN IPAD TRANSMEDIA UNIVERSE: The History of Digital Reading
The past twenty years have seen many trends in computer-based reading experiences. Introduced in 1992, Living Books on CD-ROM were a great example of reading experiences with audio and interactive support. Unfortunately, these electronic reading environments never really took hold beyond books for beginning readers and a few reference resources from DK. The DK materials provided informational reading experiences and worked well for classroom reading activities.
By the late 1990s and early 2000s, people expected free materials from the web. However, free websites like Enchanted Learning with quality content were difficult to find, poorly formatted and contained annoying ads. Students could read classics online at websites such as the Project Gutenberg, however only a few free resources emerged such as International Children's Digital Library with books like Blue Sky.
Throughout the 2000s, some websites such as Sesame Street ebook website rotated a few free online books each week such as Elmo 'N Daddy. However most ad-free websites have become subscription-based such as Tumblebooks.
The introduction of mobile Apps such as Freight Train has renewed interest in interactive storybooks. These types of extended reading experiences are now reaching beyond the elementary grades. New companies are specializing in these types of interactive storybooks. For instance, the TouchyBooks app contains a number of child-friendly demo stories.
James Patterson's Maximum Ride series are all available as Kindle eBooks that can be read on many types of devices including iPhone, Windows PC, Mac, Blackberry, iPad, Android, and Windows Phone 7 in addition to the Kindle Reader. In addition, supplemental materials are also available in various formats through the author's website. There's a FANG mobile App connected to Book One.
Some apps are designed for use on websites. For instance, readers of the Vampire Academy series can learn more about the series on a Facebook App while reading the electronic book on the ipad and connecting to social networks.
It's taken 20 years for the idea of age-appropriate, interactive books to make a come-back. However, with this return has come an explosion of reading choices and a new definition of "book."