Interactive Books – My story

Interactive Books – My story

What is the next big thing in publishing? Which is the next publishing format that goes viral, that almost everyone wants to use, and many do? My answer five years ago, in the shadow of the streaming audiobook evolution, was interactivity. Welcome to my story about the development of our interactive books platform.

While the audiobook-streaming platforms offer improved distribution, and convenient business models for the user and the business, not that much the authors or publishing houses. The concept of interactivity focuses on empowering the content and in this way improve the experience for the user, both when it comes to engagement and learning.

platform for interactive booksBut what format?

The packaging for this interactivity I very quickly identified as one of the most ancient formats, namely the book. Since in my view, all books include forms of learning and engagement in a well-structured way.

At that time, at the beginning of the development process of the platform for interactive books, I already had about 12 years of experience developing learning modules on different platforms. While the market consisted generally of dedicated teachers and education departments in businesses that were keen on learning about the new opportunities. But especially the public administration in the municipalities, the ones with the budget, they directed their focus on so-called LMS (Learning Management System). These systems like e.g. First Class that were mostly for administration purposes, and often with very expensive licenses.

In 2017 my book Learning Design in Practice for Everybody was published. Even if it was published four years ago almost everything is up to date and still useful in the book. In this spirit, it is a perfect guide of how to integrate interactivity and develop interactive books, both for inspiration and the craftsmanship. The book starts with the following words:

The father of the creative destruction theory, Joseph Schumpeter, wrote in the middle of the 20th Century that innovation is the market introduction of a technical or organizational novelty, not just its invention. Today, this review from the heart of the industrial age is going through its own creative destruction in the development from a mass market to a personalized market. In this interconnected digital age with accessibility everywhere at your fingertips and an open-source mentality as a progressive movement; design has become the mother of, not invention, but innovation and differentiation.

Today, it is the design that introduces innovation in peoples’ minds. But not only for the attractiveness of the eye, since design thinking includes much more, like user-friendliness, organization, technology as well as aesthetics. In other words, the distant view of beautiful design in the past has become a human-centred interaction where success depends on how well it adapts to the user. It should attract to take on a new challenge and keep this attractive and challenging spirit during the whole journey. This is the very heart of powerful design including learning design.

Interactive books - toolsInteractive books – benefits

However, the book is not directly focused on developing interactive books but works for other forms of learning modules and other interactive content too. Only your creativity sets the limit of how a book can be used.

When it comes to interactive books, they are especially well-equipped for teen- and children’s books, non-fiction in general, and edubooks (meaning schoolbooks for all educational levels). And because of the simple distribution of the interactive book, it is also open for flexible sales models.

Besides this, I and my team can help you with the development of your interactive book project to optimize the outcome. Learn more about our service Storyteller On Demand by clicking here. The project model we work with is the 6iModel that is described in my book Learning Design in Practice of Everybody. Below follows a brief summary of the 6iModel from the book:

6imodel in brief

Workable learning design is attention-driven especially since the web’s information flood often is just one click away. But also, that mobility, to find those micro-moments to learn during the day, the learning application competes with the everchanging environment of the learner’s location. This is in addition to other “traditional” distractions that are a part of the learning process.

With this in mind, we used “Sexy eyes” as the project title for the development of the 6i-model, since the 6i refers to 6 stages that start with an “i” is focusing on the learning designer work, while “sexy eyes” refers to the purpose and the general goals of the outcome of the learning design project. Where the learning experience should retain the learner’s attention by being interactive, interesting and to bring the desire for further connection and exploration.


What do you want to teach and tell?
How do you want to teach and tell it, define the basic idea?
Why do you want to teach and tell it?
What technology and tools can be used?
Whom are your target group(s)?
Would You like to learn what you plan to teach and tell from the prerequisites of your basic idea?

What are your prerequisites to carry through your basic ideas of the project?
What do you need to add?
Identify opportunities and threats, as well strengths and weaknesses with your idea (SWOT).
Write a brief project description including the SWOT that includes what your expectations are for your learning experience?

Interactive brainstorming to generate ideas for improvement.
Visualize what you want to accomplish and how to adapt the learning content on a simple sketch, if there is a project group that is working with idea-generation, first, every member should do a sketch of their own, secondly all the sketches should be shown to the whole project group and
thirdly, bring the best parts together to mutually continue with the project.
The sketch(es) should include which tools to use for your learning design project.

Detailed project management strategy in a design thinking mode.
Choosing the most workable tools to carry through the project’s content mix.
What to do yourselves and what to outsource?
Visualize what the design will look like.

What works? The 6i-model is based on trial and error in order to optimize the basic ideas of the interactive book.
Is the learning or storytelling experience optimized?
Engagement? Uniqueness? Interactivity? Authenticity? Explorative? Activating?
Do your design correspond with how you imaged it?
Rethink? Explore new opportunities to optimize the experience?

To design an interactive book is a continuing design thinking process, where improvements is based on human feedback, user activity data, and user results.
The other source of improvements is external threats and opportunities.

This was a brief description of the 6iModel that is a project model for projects where creativity is one of the main driving forces. For the development of interactive books, this is an inevitable force for a successful outcome. Since such projects are not managed in a way where you sometimes should think out of the box, since there simply is no box. Where the 6iModel is developed from this prerequisite. Below follow more recommendations and inspiration from the book mentioned above.


The world, according to the management guru Peter Drucker, includes two kinds of people: Readers and Listeners. With these words, he is referring to how we learn and process information. Where different people prefer different environments when they learn or perform other engaging tasks. Some prefer a printed book, others an audiobook, others a digital makerspace or a real lab to create in a learning by doing approach, or gamification to test and refine individual skills, and have fun.

At the same time, as they require variation, a learning mix. To meet the learner, you also should consider their digital playground, and make a recipe of the learning ingredients. Where the 6i-model offers a workable framework for the development to mix the ingredients together. However, pure information is one-dimensional and often lacks the ability to ensure the receiver of the accuracy of what is communicated. Such data also is considered boring and does not form bridges to engagement that true learning is built upon.

Information data engage computers and artificial intelligence, while the solution for humans requires something to also satisfy the audience’s emotional intelligence. The information should be transformed into a multidimensional approach to becoming empathic and effective. This is where storytelling begins.

I will continue to publish these personal reflections about publishing, and if you are interested in our services or have questions about book publishing, please contact me via the form on our contact page.

LarsGoran Bostrom

Written by
LarsGoran Bostrom

Developer of SOE PublishingLab – a platform to develop interactive books

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