The Kool-Aid, I Am Drinking It

You know how I’ve written that I prefer actual paper books to these new-fangled electronic readers?  And I do, truly.  Except that, um, I may have seen the light a little.

I’m using my Kindle to read drafts by other writers, and my IPad when I need to read a book for my book club quickly, and that’s all fine.  But last week I read about the IPad app for Sandra Boynton’s Going to Bed Book.  Now, the Going to Bed Book is the book I read so often when the kids were small, the whole family has it memorized.  Even the dog we had then could probably have recited a line or two, if pressed.  It’s the book I give whenever anyone has a new baby, the book I’ve replaced twice because it’s fallen apart.  I love this book.

“Huh,” I grumbled to my husband when I heard about the app.  “Grumble, grumble, technology, ruin of us all, grumble,  grumble.”

“Yep,” he said.  “But have you actually seen it?”

The app was like two bucks, so I downloaded it so I could better articulate to him how we are going to hell in a hand basket because no one reads real books anymore.  But then, I forgot what I was saying because I was having so much fun.

Did you get that I love the book?  I love it even more as an e-book.  It’s taken the spirit of the story, which is fun and light-hearted and a perfect way to end the night — and made it even more playful.  You can hear the stars in the sky, hear the waves sloshing, see the eyes on the bunny close when it gets dark and hear him snore. It made me get, for the first time, the possibilities  of an enhanced book.


In my case, I’ve heard from some readers that they don’t see enough of Frank (one of my main characters who happens to be a ghost) in my novel Evenfall.  But he’s in every scene that shows the house Evenfall – it’s just that sometimes his presence is a subtle one.  How much fun would it be to have the words on a page form the shape of Frank whenever he’s there, quietly manipulating the scene? To have an image of Nina cue us to his presence?  To hear his theme music in the background?

I suppose you wouldn’t want to read every book this way — or even to read a book this way every time.  But having the option to read with sensory cues enhancing the experience — kind of like a director’s cut on a video — would be all kinds of awesome.  Although, ironically, in a children’s bedtime book it’s a little too exciting, particularly since I’ve had to arm-wrestle with my son so everyone (read me) gets a chance to do the ‘fun’ pages.

Is there a book you’d like to read this way?  Besides Evenfall, I’d vote for any of the Harry Potters or LOTRs series.  What would you choose, and why?

Liz Michalski


  1. Rosemary on April 11, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Hi Liz!

    Trust me, you will fall in love with your Kindle, especially once you start loading up on those free books.

    An enhanced e-book I’d like to see? Pride and Prejudice, of course!

    • liz on April 11, 2011 at 1:05 pm

      I second the P&P choice, especially if they could work in the Colin Firth swimming scene from the movie! : )

  2. Linda on April 11, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    But isn’t that why they made the Harry Potter and LOTR books into movies? And what about when they go wrong and cast someone other than the person you had in your head all those years? Take Little House on the Prairie as an example, the casting was perfect! And the original Nancy cast in Nancy Drew TV series (Pamela Sue Martin) was perfect, but she stayed only a season or two, and her replacement was nothing like the real Nancy Drew. So there’s some real danger in making our favorite books into movies.

    • liz on April 11, 2011 at 6:59 pm

      Oh gosh, I’d forgotten about Pamela Sue — I loved her as a kid! And I completely agree — the wrong casting can ruin your mental memory of a book. I was thinking less of a movie (although the Colin Firth idea is pretty awesome) and more of some enhancements — having soundtracks come on in certain parts of the book, for example, or having little cues — in Harry Potter, it would be neat to hear the slithering of the snake in the Chamber of Secrets, to ‘see’ bugs run across the floor, have a spell rise from the image of a caldron, for example (probably bad examples, but still…) and be able to turn the enhancements off if you wanted to just read, the way you can just watch a movie without the director’s voice if you want to do that. Or have little extras — a peek into the greenhouse in Harry Potter with bizarre plants, for example, when they are in botany class. It’s easier to see with the Going to Bed Book, because it is already a picture book.

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