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  • The future sound of books

    by Sabrina Jaszi
    Once Vook gets into the world, the potential for even unexpected industries to take advantage of it could be vast. Just look at how digital books are helping out the classical music industry. Classical musicians have been mourning the loss of establishments selling sheet music for a while. Stores like this once gave musicians the chance to mingle, and the opportunity to stumble upon music by composers great and unknown. Maybe the rent’s too steep (how much can you really charge for a couple of pieces of paper, after all) or maybe the tunes of centuries past are simply no longer in vogue, but either way, the Amazon Kindle may have a solution. As of July 10th, they’ve begun releasing sheet music for their tablet—over 20,000 pieces so far. You won’t find any buried treasure on cob-webbed shelves, but the works of major classical and popular composers are there for the taking. There are a few glitches: who can read those itty bitty little notes and how do you zoom in without poking yourself in the eye with your bow? Perhaps this product would be better suited for a larger device, music stand included. And if you had video of the orchestra playing the piece alongside it? It’s something we’re keeping an eye on at Vook.

    Source: http://ireaderreview.com/2009/07/08/kindle-sheet-music/

    Found in Translation

    We’re serious book lovers at Vook – one of our producers just read 2666 between takes on a long shoot – but we also love, obsessively follow and make movies and online video. That expertise will set Vook apart from other e-book creators: We understand books and video culture. Now we’re combining those mediums into a new experience that will really make words pop.

    As we scour the Internet for inspiration, a few projects stand out. Once a week, we’re going to share some of these finds to give you a feel for how we’re thinking creatively. This week, we’ve got three examples of poetry that’s made the translation into the digital world. If a new, more visual take on the written word can get people caught up in a poem, anything’s possible.

    One of the most impressive efforts has to be ad agency DDB of London’s transformation of a recording of Richard Burton reading a Dylan Thomas poem into a car ad. Though it’s as sleek and of the moment as a music video, the ad’s focus is squarely and reverently on Thomas’s poetry. When we first saw the spot a few years ago, it was a great reminder that poetry can still give us shivers – and maybe sell a few cars.

    On the amateur side, we’ve long been following the work of Jim Clark, a London based videographer who produces fascinating poetry videos. Jim combines black and white photos of poets, many from the WWI generation, with audio recordings of the poet reading his work. He then subtly animates the photo’s mouth in time with the recording. The final result makes it look as if the photograph is reciting the poem. The effect, though stiff, is haunting, uncanny, and often deeply affecting. But allow us one (kind of major) complaint. Clark insists on putting a copyright and title card in big letters over the photographs, just as the poem begins. It really jars the experience. While we’re listening to the opening lines of “Dolce et Decorum Est” seemingly spoken by Wilfred Owen himself, we don’t want to be reading a copyright notice.

    Finally, we often return to the charming animations on Billy Collins Action Poetry. This site collects eleven video interpretations of Billy Collins’ poetry in one place. Every video is a treat – though make sure you don’t miss Jeff Scher’s swirling “No Time” or Julian Grey’s beautiful “Forgetfulness.”

    If poetry – that most lamented literary genre – can be turned into groundbreaking video content, then we at Vook have a lot of work ahead of us: there’s a whole universe of books out there, just waiting to be stunningly enhanced with video.

    WATCH: DDB’s VW Ad with Richard Burton reading Dylan Thomas

    WATCH: Jim Clark’s animated poets

    VISIT: Billy Collins Action Poetry

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