Beneath the Ink enhances e-books without the need of a new app

NEW YORK –Beneath the Ink had something to celebrate on Tuesday night.

The start-up won a Digital Book Award for E-book Fixed Format/Enhanced – Adult Fiction for Emma Boling’s book “Mistress of France.”

Beneath the Ink is a service for e-book enhancements including video, picture, text information and more – whatever you can imagine to fit in an e-book, Beneath the Ink can find a way to put it there.

One of the big differences with Beneath the Ink is that the enhancements are seamless within the e-book. There are no external links, which has been seen in many other “enhanced” e-books. All capabilities such as watching a video happen right in the e-reader or e-book application without needing a separate app.

“This is an exciting process,” said Beneath the Ink’s Olivia Tufo. “So many e-books have just been a reprint of the text in digital form. Binks (the enhancements) don’t disrupt the reading experience.”

When a reader clicks on a highlighted word, the texts split on the screen for either text, images, videos, recipes or audio files. Once done, you click away and continue reading without leaving the screen.

In Boling’s book, one of the important assets was including character information. With more than 40 characters in “Mistress of France,” those Binks came in hand when after dozens a pages, a character comes back. It gave a refresher for the characters.

The process for authors is currently easy and affordable, according to Tufo. One project currently costs $25 with an unlimited amount of Binks in any e-book. A book is uploaded into Beneath the Ink software where authors can add Binks often using a drag and drop feature.

One of the drawbacks could be how the books are distributed. Beneath the Ink will distribute the book to platforms such as Amazon or Apple’s iBookstore. Beneath the Ink will work with each individual author to come up with the percentage Beneath the Ink will make on each book sold. However, Tufo says the cost is generally small (low single digit percentage), and book sale information will be available to authors.

Currently, there is no dashboard for sales information, but Tufo says that is something that Beneath the Ink is developing.

Beneath the Ink worked on a few classics to give readers and authors an idea of how the enhancements work. It enhanced A Christmas Carol as well as a few Sherlock Holmes stories such as “A Case of Identity” and “The Red-Headed League.”

“The Red-Headed League” is free in the iBookstore.

4 Comments on Beneath the Ink enhances e-books without the need of a new app

  1. I can add images, audio and video to anything I write using Pages for iOS or MacOS X and then export as ePub. Pages is bundled for free on any new Apple device or $20 otherwise. Why pay yet another percentage to an intermediary?

  2. I downloaded the free sample of this title from the iBookstore, looked at it on an iPad and saw a few Binks but they all appeared to be pop-up footnotes, an ePub 3 feature. I found no examples of the media types described here or in the sample eBook.
    So there is a difference between these ePub documents and the ePub documents that Pages exports. An ePub created in Pages will show images, audio or video in-line whereas this approach has these same things popping-up on tapping a specially highlighted word or phrase. I suppose that the rationale is that the main narrative should be segregated from media and footnotes.

  3. Great article, and great concerns @Frank Lowney!

    Hopefully I can help you better understand how BTI is different and our vision for Binks etc.

    Yes, you absolutely can add images, audio, video to a Pages (or MS Word, or Calibre, etc) file and export to an ePub fairly easily. However, the idea behind Beneath The Ink is that books should be content-centric rather than media-centric, and having media inline can be very distracting and take away from the reading experience… Our strength lies in the way we present these “pop-up footnotes” that you are referring to: rather than actually popping up, we take the reader “into” the page and make sure they don’t lose their place in the book.

    The Sherlock Holmes samples are fairly basic: they don’t contain anything but pictures and text, but if you are truly interested in learning more about us I would be happy to give you a free promo code for out full length title “Mistress of France”. Just shoot me an email: alex at beneaththeink.com.

    Binks are the tip of the iceberg for us and how we hope to revolutionize digital reading and publishing. Not only are more interactive features within Binks coming (panoramic images, interactive maps, etc) but we are developing new tools for authors every day to make their books more immersive for readers.

    I hope this was helpful!
    -Alex Milewski, Co-founder

  4. Pepper Irwin // April 19, 2015 at 12:25 am //

    I just watched your presentation on Shark Tank and I can visualize an incredible market in education and for those interested in history. I sincerely hope that you are successful. I can’t tell you how many times this concept would have been helpful to me.
    I am merely a consumer, but I assure you that I would pay at least 20% more for my books if they were equip with this capability.
    Regardless, good luck.

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