Vook’s Sherlock Holmes App: An eBookNewser Review

Vook has been very loud lately on Twitter, trying to get interested parties to download its free “Sherlock Holmes Experience” app from iTunes. This weekend, amidst all the buzz for the new Sherlock Holmes movie, eBookNewser did just that.

The App functions as a sample of what Vook is trying to do: it’s the complete text of two of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stores (both of which are now in the public domain), plus hyperlinks to Wikipedia entries for terms Vook thinks deserve some explaining (the first page has a link to “opium,” for instance). Plus there are short video segments (such as the one above) produced by Vook, meant to offer intriguing background information and bring the story “to life.”

For the Holmes app, there’s a set of man-on-the-street segments with a snarky Brit asking Londoners if they know whether Sherlock Holmes was real and where he might be found today, plus another group of historical videos featuring a creepy Victorian Englishman with a top hat and cane walking through contemporary England.

For deep Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts, this app will seem silly (though there are nice interviews in a couple of the videos with the archivist at the Holmes museum that are worth watching). To the newbee, the videos might offer some useful background, but all the bells and whistles finally distract from the text itself, where the real action still takes place.

This app raises a question: do we actually want our books–“e” or otherwise–to do more than display text? Is a product like Vook or the upcoming Blio the end of reading, or the beginning of something else? What do you think? Do you want videos in your books?


For the Holmes app, there’s a set of man-on-the-street segments with a snarky Brit asking Londoners if they know whether Sherlock Holmes was real and where he might be found today, plus another group of historical videos featuring a creepy Victorian Englishman with a top hat and cane walking through contemporary England.

For deep Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts, this app will seem silly (though there are nice interviews in a couple of the videos with the archivist at the Holmes museum that are worth watching). To the newbee, the videos might offer some useful background, but all the bells and whistles finally distract from the text itself, where the real action still takes place.

This app raises a question: do we actually want our books–“e” or otherwise–to do more than display text? Is a product like Vook or the upcoming Blio the end of reading, or the beginning of something else? What do you think? Do you want videos in your books?