READING IN AN IPAD TRANSMEDIA UNIVERSE: Five Electronic Reading Environments

What do the words reading and books mean in a transmedia universe? Will the traditional words evolve in meaning or do we need new words?

Consider some of the following categories. Is this reading? Are these books?

Let's explore five new reading environments:


Hunger GamesE-books feature linear content equivalent to a print book. However many of the e-book devices contain tools such as highlighter, dictionaries, and notetaking options. Many popular authors are producing electronic book versions of their books. Enhanced e-books contain multimodal features within the linear text such as images, web links, and embedded media. Many nonfiction books are incorporating media elements.

Example: The Hunger Games series and others by Suzanne Collins are available for ebook readers.

Example: The Kennedy Detail contains images and embedded media and is available for ebook readers.


Interactive storybooks feature a linear story read-aloud by a narrator. Text is often highlighted as the words are read and options may be provided for defining words or exploring elements of the screen. Many of these storybooks have options to "read to me," "read myself," and "play with me" provided different ways to access the story. First available on CD-ROM, many of these books are now available as mobile Apps for phones and tablets.

Example: Watch a demo of One Snowy Day from YouTube. Download it at iTunes.


Reference Databases provide nonlinear, organized access to records of information provided through search tools, indexes, or subjects.

Example: The series include free and purchased versions. ibirds pro is the complete version. In Star Walk for the iPad you can associate the text with the actual place.


4 - hypertexts and interactive fiction

Hypertexts and interactive fiction are nonlinear narratives that can be accessed through various hotspots or links. Choose your own adventure stories are interactive fiction. Many adventure games also contain narratives. Read or listen to Choose Your Own Adventure Gets an iMakeover from NPR (August 16, 2010) to learn more about this format.

Example: 253 or Tube Theatre by Geoff Ryman is an example of a hypertext.

5 - transmedia storytelling

Amanda ProjectTransmedia storytelling involves a multimodal, multmedia story with nonlinear, participatory elements. Resources connected to the story might including print materials, documents, maps, web-based clues, mobile Apps, cell phone calls, social media connections, activities and games, and media (audio, video, animation). The main line of the story may or may not be in one location such as a traditional book or website. The narrative may be told through a series of media. 39 Clues, Skeleton Creek, Cathy's Book are all examples.

Example: The Amanda Project: experience website, fictional school website

Schneider (2005, 198) states that "the readers of hypertexts thus appear as empowered readers, liberated from the constraints imposed by 'traditional' literature – some commentators even raise the question whether the very terms 'reader' and 'reading' might not have become inadequate for hypertext reception". This type of reading requires skills not required in traditional reading.

Do the examples above fit your definition of "reading a book"?

Go to Next Part 2: Fiction vs Nonfiction

Fluid | Reading Overview | History | Redefining | Environments | Fiction vs Nonfiction | Features| Issues