Expanded books were a series of books produced in 1991, written in HyperCard, that extended existing books. Titles included Moby Dick, The Annotated Alice, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Jurassic Park.
Voyager had previously made a name for itself with Criterion Collection laserdiscs, but the main impetus came out of their success with a hypertext version of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The idea was to bring this success to literary texts.
A Voyager version of MacBeth
The books were heavily annotated in the margins with a variety of multimedia comments. Users were allowed to annotate them as well.
In 1992, a toolkit was produced (also in HyperCard) allowing users to make their own books.
These books have more of a claim to the “first electronic books” than Peter James’s Host, although technically the earliest ebooks were the open texts of the Gutenberg Project.
- “Scotched“. The Magazine, December 19, 2013.
Bob Stein, the prime force behind the Voyage Books, is still evangelizing the ebook today. See Social Book.
Peter James’s Host is seen by some as the first ebook.