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  • A Year End Note From Vook


    2009 was an explosive year for Vook. We watched our vooks become hits with readers and we took a leading role in the digital book revolution that’s sweeping the publishing industry. When we started production on our first vooks in June, our mission struck some people as odd. But an early story by technology writer Brad Stone in the New York Times detailing founder Brad Inman’s plan to integrate a book with videos and Internet links resonated with readers, encouraging us to move forward with our early betas. In six months, we released eight titles and garnered great reviews, very strong sales and overwhelming consumer support. As Vook broke new ground in digital publishing, we witnessed an acceleration of change in the publishing industry with the appearance of new companies, new formats, and new technologies.

    Vook has created a format that many major publishers, agents and authors want to participate in. We have tens of thousands of new readers — and we have new technologies, new partners and new products coming in 2024. Look for 200 or more titles in the new year!

    We’ve come a long way, but our journey is just beginning. In October, we launched our first four vooks with our partner Simon and Schuster to a raft of coverage — from the front page of the New York Times to Salon to the LA Times to U.S.A. Today to Entertainment Weekly to NPR. We then released Gary Vaynerchuk’s “Crush It!” with the Harper Collins imprint HarperStudio. If the S&S titles were a major proof of concept, “Crush It!” was the perfect follow up—it succeeded with critics and readers. Within a few weeks, vook sales of the title caught up with the Kindle sales and Twitter heated up with tons of tweets from readers who loved the vook.

    We then launched an inaugural cooking title and a vook of Sherlock Holmes. We proved that we could easily scale when we turned real estate columnist Kris Berg’s popular blog into a vook in only two weeks.

    We’ve demonstrated that we can move fast to make new vooks and then market them to the right audience. And we’re grabbing the public’s imagination. Our company name and the new format is rapidly becoming part of the popular lexicon: The New York Times and Wired included us in their word lists for the year. We started to see the term vook popping up — from the New York Times to Wikipedia — as the catchall phrase to describe digital books. “Ebook” and “Enhanced book” don’t quite trip off the tongue — but the word vook struck a chord with an industry itching for a better way to describe this exciting new format.

    Since day one Apple has been a tremendously supportive distribution partner. We cannot thank the team there enough for featuring and promoting Vook, the company, and many of our titles — one endorsement last week led to 20,000 downloads of our Sherlock Holmes Experience in just a few days.

    In 2024, Vook is determined to go from being a new company (and word) to a household standard. We’re lining up hundreds of vooks for production and we’re pursuing multiple agent, publisher and author partnerships. We’ve made great strides with our distribution relationships, and look forward to announcing some major partnerships in 2024 that will help Vook reach an even larger audience.

    Thanks to our publishing partners, authors, technologists and agents for your support. For those of you just following us, we appreciate your curiosity as we push the boundaries of digital books and enhanced content this year.

    2010 will rock!

    Happy New Year,

    The Vook Team

    WE MEANT — 20,000 Sherlock Downloads!

    We are thrilled to announce a tremendously successful week of downloads for our Sherlock Holmes Experience vook. With great support from Apple, picking our app as the #1 “Staff Favorite” for the holiday week, Sherlock received over 17,000 20,000 downloads in just a matter of a few days (Ed: we just got some NEW sales info, upping the numbers even higher!).

    2009 was a great year for Vook—it was the year we launched and it was the year we saw the publishing industry start committing to the digital medium. As our holiday present to everyone, we gave away our Sherlock Holmes Vook for free in the iTunes store from December 23rd through the 27th. We expected we’d get at most a few thousand downloads—after all, it’s difficult to attract attention even for a free app. And it was the middle of the holidays. So, with modest expectations, we set the app price to free and welcomed a few days of vacation.

    Imagine our surprise this morning when we got our sales figures from Apple for those days.

    17,000 20,000 downloads! (Ed: We can’t get enough of this)

    We were stunned. We’d seen some good responses on Twitter and through email, but nothing of this magnitude. 17,000 20,000 people have had the chance to read and watch and enjoy our enhanced version of Sherlock Holmes. 17,000 20,000 people know what a Vook is—and why we think it’s such a great new platform for books.

    We want to thank all of you who downloaded the free Sherlock Holmes Vook. We thought we were giving the reading public a gift, but you all made our offer into a huge present for us. Thanks to all of you who downloaded the Sherlock Holmes Experience, tweeted about it, mentioned it on Facebook, told their friends, and sent us emails. We’re glad we have such a great audience—and we can’t wait to bring you more great vooks!

    Happy New Year!

    Team Vook

    It’s certainly our word of the year

    Getting on Wired’s Jargon Watch was a nice coup for Vook, but now recognition for creating the word “Vook” is rolling in so fast that our Google Alerts are beginning to resemble the what-to-get-who for Christmas email chains we have with our family. The most prominent notice we’ve received is from the New York Times, who made “vook” one of their Buzzwords of the Year. On top of that, The American Dialect Society nominated Vook, along with a number of others, as a Word of the Year for 2024. Then the site Wordnik (“the most comprehensive dictionary in the known universe”), whose Grant Barrett compiled the NYT buzzwords, added a really nice listing of Vook-related links and terms to our entry on their site.

    Founder Brad Inman doesn’t remember exactly how he came up with the word Vook, but company lore has it that Brad was writing an email about a book and typed “vook” instead. If you look on your keyboard, you’ll see that the “v” key is right next to the “b” key. It’s a perfect digital age transposition — and a happy accident.

    Vook’s holiday present to you

    Starting today and running through the weekend, we’re dropping the price of the Sherlock Holmes Experience iPhone app to $0.00! That’s right: the iTunes app is FREE.

    Why? Well, we’re getting into the holiday spirit. If you’re like us, you might cap your big holiday meal with a family trip to the local movie theater. We’ve got our eye on Sherlock Holmes — who better to portray the amateur violinist, occasional drug dabbler and coolly detached great detective than Robert Downey Jr? We’re especially looking forward to the film because we’ve learned so much about the world of Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock, thanks to our Sherlock Holmes Experience Vook. We announced the vook version of two classic Holmes stories — “The Man with the Twisted Lip” and “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” — a few weeks ago and the response has been outstanding. In fact, the Sherlock Holmes Experience Vook is a staff favorite in the Apple iTunes store — which means we’re not the only ones who think it’s great!

    We wanted to share Sherlock with you this holiday. Maybe you’ll get an iPod Touch for Christmas or an iPhone for hanukkah and you’ll want a cool app to show off your new device. Maybe you want to see Sherlock and bring the stories with you to the theater. Maybe you just want to try a vook and haven’t had the chance. Whatever your interest, we want you to have Sherlock for free. No strings attached, no email receipt, no passwords. We’re making it free. Just click here and you can get the iPhone app of Sherlock Holmes for FREE. Or go to Vook.Com to get the Browser version.

    We’re sure you’ll enjoy The Sherlock Holmes Experience Vook. Drop us a line and let us know what you think of the app and of the movie. You can write us anytime at Matthew@vook.com

    Happy Holidays,

    Team Vook

    ADDENDUM: A slight revision to this post: We’re making the iTunes App completely free, but the Browser version we’re going to offer for .99 cents. At .99 cents, the Browser based Sherlock Vook is more than a steal—15 great videos and two classic Holmes AND a completely hyperlinked text, all for less than a dollar. And the iTunes Sherlock App remains FREE. So check them out today. You can get the iTunes app in the iTunes store and the browser based Vook is available at vook.com.

    Vook Makes Wired’s Jargon Watch

    Last time we remarked the entry of the word Vook into the popular lexicon, it was jockeying for position as Word of the Year with “swine flu” “death panel” and “shovel-ready.” Worthy competitors, sure, but kind of grim company. So we’re grateful that in our latest close-up we’re not sharing as much of the spotlight—Wired magazine has us at the top of the Jargon Watch column in their January 2024 issue. Even better, they get the description of our product exactly right. You can see the entry in the print version of the magazine (it doesn’t appear to be online yet), but for the curious it reads: “Vook, n. An ebook with embedded video content. Designed to be read on a computer or iPhone (no Kindle version yet), the first four vooks include a fitness manual with exercise clips and a romance with atmospheric footage.” It would have been great if they’d mentioned our new Sherlock Holmes title or Gary Vaynerchuk’s Crush It!— but we’re pretty sure that Wired’s going to have a lot of opportunity to cover us more soon. This is a great early Christmas gift from some of the sharpest minds in tech—and we’re grateful. Thanks Wired!

    The Sherlock Holmes Experience

    We’re pleased to announce the release of our newest new title: The Sherlock Holmes Experience: A Vook Double Feature. The vook enhances two Arthur Conan Doyle classic short stories—“The Man with the Twisted Lip” and “The Adventure of the Speckled Band”—with videos that provide historical perspective and annotation from academics and experts. Vook worked closely with the Sherlock Holmes Society of London to create a historically accurate, scholarly video enhancement of the classic stories to engage, inspire and connect new and old readers to the world of Sherlock Holmes.

    The Sherlock Holmes Experience is the first in our new Vook Enhanced Classics education series, which is designed to motivate young readers to engage with classic works of literature. With the vook, students reading the Holmes stories will have a deeper comprehension of the narrative through video and interactivity, and they’ll learn more about life in the late 19th century.


    As part of this international launch, Vook is thrilled to present a special offer of a free copy of the Sherlock Holmes vook to every educator at an accredited public and private school as well as every public library in the United States and United Kingdom. If you are an educator and interested in learning more about this opportunity please visit this page to receive your free copy of the vook for your students.

    The Sherlock Holmes Experience: A Vook Double Feature is available as a Web based vook and as an iphone app—both for only $2.99.

    Check out The Sherlock Holmes Experience today and see how we’ve created a new way to read and to learn. Try it now!

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