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noun [countable]

an electronic book which consists of both video and text

'A vook is a digital mixed-media form that blends video, text, images and social streams into a single, integrated experience. Vooks are available on the Web-based Vook Reader and also on-the-go as a unique mobile application …'

Auto-Mobi.info 18th June 2010

Read the book or watch the video? It's a dilemma that many of us will have considered at some point during our leisure hours. But now, it seems, we can have the best of both worlds – we can read the words as the author intended, but at the same time see the images he or she paints played out before us. Enter the brave new literary concept of the vook.

the concept's real potential is tied up in the premise that text alone isn't always the best way for readers to get information

A vook is essentially an e-book (electronic book) enhanced by video and images, which goes one step further in providing the user access to Internet-based social media. This new innovation in reading therefore aims to blend the concepts of a well-written book, high-quality video, and the power of the Internet – the idea being that you can read your book, an experience which is made all the more enjoyable by related video along the way, and, should you desire, also connect with fellow-readers, friends or even the authors themselves to discuss your opinions and experiences. With the vook, all these activities can happen on one screen without the user having to switch between platforms.

Though it remains to be seen whether the vook will really take off as a new medium for reading fiction, the concept's real potential is tied up in the premise that text alone isn't always the best way for readers to get information. Popular non-fiction such as DIY and travel guides, exercise and fitness regimes etc, are the more obvious examples of potentially successful vooks. In fact one area that seems to sit particularly well with the idea of a hybrid book/video concept is cookery, which has already spawned the related term cookvook. If you'd like to get a taster of a cookvook in action, check out one preview here.

Vooks are currently available in two forms: as a mobile app (application) for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, purchasable from Apple's iTunes app store, or on the Internet through a browser-based Vook Reader.

Background – vook

The term vook is of course a blend of the words video and book. The concept is the brainchild of US Internet entrepreneur Bradley Inman, who in October 2009 launched the Internet-based company Vook™. The word vook often appears with initial capital letter, Vook, making a connection with the trademarked company. Among the first vooks to be released were a fitness manual entitled The 90 Second Fitness Solution, containing exercise clips, and a short romance novel called Promises, including atmospheric footage.

This is not the first time that new media have inspired neologisms incorporating the words book or video. In the early noughties we saw the first appearance of the word blook, a blend of blog (weblog) and book used to describe a printed book based on an online journal. Though shortlisted in 2006 for inclusion in the Oxford English Dictionary, the word blook has never really gained popular currency, possibly because publishers have discovered that blog popularity does not necessarily translate into book sales. The word video on the other hand, is a component of new terms vodcast (a video podcast) and vlog (a video blog, with related words vlogger, vlogging etc). Though the word vodcast has had a modicum of recognition and usage, vlog has, despite the popularity of the concept it represents, been less successful, perhaps because the consonant cluster vl is unusual in English and perceived as difficult to pronounce.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

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This article was first published on 6th August 2010.

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