Will You Crack Open a Video Book?

With the hectic schedules everyone works, it’s tough to find time to read a book. Even when I do find time, it’s usually at the end of the day and I get about a half a page in before falling asleep. But HarperCollins is testing out a new way to get around those issues with their new video books.


I know what you’re thinking. They already have video books — they’re called “movies.” Well, according to the Wall Street Journal, these video books will be different. Available today in Amazon’s VOD store, Jeff Jarvis’s What Would Google Do? is the first video book out from the publisher. It’s not Jarvis reading text; rather, it’s 23 minutes of Jarvis sitting in front of a white background providing key concepts from the book.

The book publishing industry, like just about every industry right now, is going through a rough patch, with layoffs and cost-cutting. HarperCollins is hoping video books might open up a new revenue stream for the company by tapping into audiences that don’t have the time for a full book. Jarvis’ video book sells for $9.99 and is only viewable on the PC (mobile versions are in the works), with Jarvis getting 25 percent of net revenue. If it works out, HarperCollins says it could make up to six more this year adapting mostly non-fiction books.

I hope the full version is more exciting than the minute-and-a-half free preview up at Amazon. Unless there are more visual elements like charts and graphs, the video format (and cost associated with producing it) seem to be wasted, as you could get the same information just by listening. As good as the content might be, just watching an author talk in front of a white screen might put me to sleep.