Book Drum.com and the future of the book

(Photo from Book Drum.com)

For some time now, there has been a lot of discussion, a lot of worry, about the future of the book. People are trying to predict where the book is going, while watching e-readers spread through the populace like oil through water. People are wondering what place the bulky, primitive artifact of the bound book will have in the world, and how it will endure the Digital Age. While it is hard to give a concrete answer to this question, Book Drum.com offers one compelling option.

Book Drum takes selected books and integrates other media with the printed word page by page. For example, if you’re interested in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, you can read about the Barbizon Hotel, a women-only hotel that was Plath’s inspiration for the Amazon, described as catering solely to women as well. You can also learn more about people and cultural items referenced in Plath’s book, complete with pictures of these people and things. These multimedia inclusions are called “Bookmarks,” and they sometimes even feature videos, such as one of Plath reading her poem “Daddy,” or a historical video about Coney Island in the 1940’s (both bookmarks for The Bell Jar).

The site also has reviews of the books, detailed descriptions of their settings, and glossaries, which help to further explain the allusions in a text. At Book Drum, anybody can become a contributor, so if you are looking for a new way to explore your favorite books, this is a unique way to do it. Their open policy is why the site has such varied archives—the writers of these exceptional descriptions are just as varied. Of course, the site has its own editors to maintain the legitimacy of the contributions, so you can be sure the details you are reading about have met careful eyes.

Things like Book Drum.com are glimpses into what path the book can be expected to take, I believe. The internet brings together all forms of media, and I think it was just a matter of time before the same thing was done with the book. Not only does the site offer further understanding of a book itself, but it expands the text and pushes it beyond the boundaries of the page. In the same way people can hear about a band, read their Wikipedia article, their reviews, and watch their music videos or interviews, Book Drum.com allows people to do this with their favorite books, adding so much to an already beloved text.

Here are some tips from Book Drum on getting to know their site:

  • Use the Bookmarks as your companion guide while you read the book, or enjoy them in their own right by subscribing to Bookmark of the Day.
  • The Summary may include plot spoilers, so be careful how much you read!
  • You can pan or zoom all the embedded maps, or switch between regular, satellite and terrain views.
  • Install Spotify, if you can, to enjoy all the music links. Spotify is free, but not available in all jurisdictions.
  • What do you think of the profile? Add a comment to the index page. You will need to register, but it’s quick and free.
  • Inspired to contribute? Why not start off by adding a review to an existing profile? Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can create a brand new profile by registering here.

Book Drum is currently holding a $3,500 tournament to see who can create the best book profiles. First, second, and third place prizes are awarded, as well as five runners up. This is a great opportunity to delve into your favorite book and come out rewarded in more ways than one. See the tournament’s page for details.

Keep reading and watching, BSU!

Signed,

Jeremy Bauer

0 comments

  1. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, Brian. (It just took me five minutes to figure out how to log into WordPress so that my comment here would be linked to my account and blog. Sigh. I have a long way to go…)

  2. Brilliant.
    Think about it: it’s a great way for professors to teach their students AND bring some extra money to academia.

    How awesome would it be FOR EXAMPLE if Rai teamed up with some tech nerds at BookNerds [or, just here at bsu, if we made our own, similar program] and annotate, say, Catcher In the Rye with links, videos, critical articles, etc. Students could pay for and download THAT copy.
    If Dr. Beach did an Austen version.
    If Dr. Mix annotated Moby Dick.

    Seriously. It’d be the shit. Each semester, y’alls complain about the bookstores. We all do. They blow. Programs like BookDrum would bypass that.

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