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28Feb/110

The “How to Fail” Enhanced Ebook That Never Was

Just a half-year ago, I thought "enhanced" ebooks were soon to be the future of reading.  Wrong.  I now realize they aren't much more than a curio, no different than an audio book.  Sure, I'd bet some people prefer to use them over the normal words-on-page (or -screen) books, but not most of us.

Even worse, there still aren't any enhanced ebooks out there that are actually good.  (As far as I can tell--please tip me off to some good ones in the comments if you know of any).  It's sad when the most advanced ones currently out there are Nick Cave's "The Death of Bunny Munro" and Ken Follett's "Pillars of the Earth" (which was truthfully just an app built to promote and supplement the Starz mini-series of the same name).

Which is why I thought I had a chance to make a real splash with a HOW TO FAIL enhanced ebook for the iPad.  Alas, after talks with countless designers across the globe, the time-frame, economics, and pure art (or lack thereof) drove me away from pursuing it any further.  Nevertheless, I still have some "wireframe" sketches I made back when I thought a HOW TO FAIL enhanced ebook was soon to be a reality, and me its auteur.

Warnings: SPOILER ALERT and NSFW (poorly-sketched nudity)

PHOTO ONE is from Chapter Two:  "How to Fail to Not Get Mistaken for a Bum."  From L to R it shows a well-dressed "successful" businessman quickly morphing into a failure, drunk and passed out in garbage.  (As a book viewer you'd use a slider to view this transition.)

PHOTOS TWO AND THREE are from Chapter 5:  "How to Fail to Live in a Healthy Environment" where HOW TO FAIL protagonist Stu Fish laments the fact that his successful friends live in much nicer places than him.  This would be an overlap whereas PHOTO TWO shows a typical ritzy Manhattan highrise with all the fixins.  You'd touch the screen in certain places to see PHOTO THREE underneath which would reveal the comparable things in Stu's crappy Hell's Kitchen walk-up (i.e. you'd touch the doorman in photo two and see a passed out wino underneath in photo three).

PHOTO FOUR is from Footchapter Five-B:  "How to Have Fucked Up Neighbors."  It shows a blueprint of the same Hell's Kitchen walk-up and the crazy neighbors that live in Stu's building.

PHOTO FIVE is from Chapter Six:  "How to Fail in Love" and focuses on the series of Kama Sutra sex position cards (some that worked, some that decidely didn't) that Stu and his girlfriend Ash once used to try and spice up their failing sex life.

PHOTOS SIX AND SEVEN are from Footchapter Six-B "How to Have a Sordid Past."  In this footchapter, Stu discusses how when he was a virgin loser in high school he spent time "studying" all the breasts in the world and soon became an expert.  Thus, this would be a "make your own breast" machine whereas the user could select the preferred breast type (mosquito bite, naturally firm, etc), areola type and color, and nipple type (photo seven) to create their own perfect breast (photo six).

PHOTO EIGHT is from Footchapter Eight:  "How to Avoid Your Ex in a Small Town."  It shows a map of Manhattan (and a little of Brooklyn) just like you'd see on the subway.  You could toggle this map between "normal," "rush hour" and "weekends/holidays" to see the various places Stu is "allowed" and "not allowed" to roam so as to not run into ex-girlfriend Ash.

PHOTO NINE would be at the end of the book.  A simple SUCCESS/FAILURE generator whereas the user would check off some boxes and fill in some info about their childhood and the machine would predict their chances of adult success.

After revisiting these sketches, it's probably wise I never pursued the enhanced ebook any further.  I would have surely put an end to the genre with my shit.  Maybe that would have been a good thing...

For more of my crummy drunken sketches, check out Genesis of a Book Cover.

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