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If this is a “Book” then what’s a “Radio Station”?

When is a book not a book?

When it’s an “amplified edition.”

That’s what they’re calling this new version of author Ken Follett’s “The Pillars of the Earth,” which includes: “striking video clips, beautiful art and original music from the upcoming, critically acclaimed Starz Originals 8-hour epic television event based on the book.”

It will be available for the iPad, the iPhone, and the iPod by the end of this week. Says the publisher: “Updates will occur repeatedly while the TV series airs so that consumers who purchase the Amplified Edition will have a dynamic user experience that complements the story and the viewing experience of the 8-part series.”

So in other words, the video content is combining with the original written content in a creative way to create a third kind of media, timed conveniently with the airing of a TV event.

Also to be included:

  1. An interactive Character Tree

  2. Contextual video footage and still images blended into the e-book

  3. Ken Follett’s Multimedia Diary, which is the author’s on-set impressions of the process of bringing “The Pillars of the Earth” from page to screen.

  4. Behind-the-scenes insights into the making of the event series

  5. A Listening Lounge features music from the Starz Originals series.

  6. A sneak preview of Ken Follett’s next book coming this fall.

This illustrates one of my regular points:  When you transform a piece of content from one medium to another, you don’t just change the medium, you change the content itself and make it altogether new.

At least you should do so if you’re going to take advantage of the new medium and successfully present your content there.

And notice that at the root of all this is the content itself.  We begin with content and then ask ourselves the question “What can this content become in this new medium?”

For example, if you are transforming your “station” into mobile applications, you have to ask what that content can become on those new applications.  Is it sharable?  Is it personalizable?  Can I dig deep into the content?  Can I time-shift it?  Can I learn more about the Talk topic with one click?  Can I switch between video or audio versions of the content?  Can I play games with other fans of that content?  How many mobile applications should one “station” have? Etc.

Answering these questions requires that we ask them in the first place (most stations do not).  And that means we must have content good enough to justify the questions in the first place.

For example, which mobile application allows the mad creation of more digital features, one based on the midday guy for your less-talk AC station or one based on the Howard Stern Show?

Frankly, it doesn’t take me long to dream up a host of dazzling digital applications that dive deep into and extend the Stern show (call me, Howard).

What about your content?

Can it be freely developed across platforms?  Or is it locked into being “one thing” on the radio?  When the digital vision extends no further than a stream and a blog, you’re asking for trouble.

And maybe you’re asking for obsolescence.

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