The availability of multi-media is changing our experience of books — what we read, how we read, and where we read. One innovator in the use of multi-media is Book Drum. Designed with a Wiki approach in mind, Book Drum aims to take readers "beyond the page" by creating fully in-depth, interactive "profiles" of books that incorporate music, images, videos, games, and embedded maps — theoretically, any "companion content" that exists digitally — to enhance our appreciation and enjoyment of books.
For each profile, a user will find certain key elements: author information (for example, biography, interviews, links, photos), an objective summary or synoposis of the book, a review ("subjective" analysis and evaluation), a glossary, a description and illustration of the book's theme(s) and setting(s), and page-by-page commentaries called "bookmarks". If appropriate, links to Amazon are included, as are links to author Websites, fan sites, and publishers. Hyperlinks to historical, literary, cultural, social, or other content on the Web are embedded in text. Layout generally is uncluttered. Site navigation is easy, because the book title and the menu of elements are carried with you as you move through a profile. Some profiles are "incomplete" and are separated from the profiles listed as fully "published"; the latter are searchable by category and genre. All profile contributors are identified. Published authors may create their own profiles, using Book Drum's free interface; alternatively, Book Drum may commission profiles on authors' or publishers' behalf. Book Drum encourages teachers and students to create profiles as class projects.
Registering with the site allows any user to offer comments, report errors, and even contribute a review of a profile.
Among the current list of at least 150 fiction and nonfiction books for which complete profiles are provided are Joseph Heller's Catch-22, Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains, Jane Austin's Mansfield Park, Paul Coehlo's The Alchemist, Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones, and Dava Sobel's Longitude.
Most recently, Book Drum has added an interactive crowd-sourced literary world map (using Google Earth plugin, allowing you to view maps in 3D). Clicking on any red pin allows a user to read about a particular book's setting, which is plotted by latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates. A registered user may add a book to the map.
My sense is that Book Drum will continue to add significant content as more readers, reviewers, authors, and publishers become aware of it. Perhaps there's even a poetry section in its future!
Book Drum on FaceBook
Book Drum on FaceBook