For more than 500 years the book has been a remarkably stable entity: a coherent string of connected words, printed on paper and bound between covers. But in the age of the iPhone, Kindle, and YouTube, the notion of the book is becoming increasingly elastic as publishers mash together text, video, and web features in a scramble to keep readers interested in an archaic form of entertainment, reports the New York Times. On Oct. 1, for instance, Simon & Schuster, the publisher of Ernest Hemingway and Stephen King, is working with a multimedia partner to release four "vooks," which intersperse videos throughout electronic text that can be read–and viewed–online or on an iPhone or iPod Touch. And in early September Anthony E. Zuiker, creator of the television series "CSI," released "Level 26: Dark Origins," a novel–published on paper, as an eBook, and in an audio version–in which readers are invited to log on to a web site to watch brief videos that flesh out the plot. Some publishers say this kind of multimedia hybrid is necessary to lure modern readers who crave something different. But reading experts question whether fiddling with the parameters of books ultimately degrades the act of reading…

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