Recently we've been exploring how the book industry is adjusting to electronic books. There are pros and cons to eBooks, but regardless the industry is moving to digital formats fast - even to the point of the Oxford English Dictionary considering not publishing another print edition.

Some book publishers aren't just adjusting to eBooks, they're embracing them with open arms. Moving Tales is one such publisher. It recently released a book as an iPad app, called The Pedlar Lady of Gushing Cross. Moving Tales, as the name implies, is a producer of animated books. It's a mix of movies and books, but does it work?

Moving Tales aims to "bring stories to life," through multimedia features such as 3D animation, music, voice overs, sound effects, alternate views and animation of text "using the iPad's accelerometer." The company also makes use of features native to a tablet-like device, such as page swipe or tap for page turning and what it describes as "extras to ensure no two viewings [are] alike."

The Pedlar Lady is a book about "the journey of a poor pedlar woman who, guided by the shifting line between the real and the unreal, discovers a surprising and wonderful treasure." It costs $4.99 in the App Store.

The story is told almost as if it's an animated film, with voice over and sound affects optionally accompanying the animation. The words are also present of course, allowing you to read the text sans sound if you prefer.

Novelty, or The Future of eBooks?

The overall effect of The Pedlar is akin to a graphic novel, in that the animation is a core part of the experience.

With traditional works of fiction, the reader uses her imagination to bring the text to 'life.' And that's much of the fun, as anyone who has seen a movie version of a novel before reading the novel will attest. If you see the movie first, when you read the book you then have a set picture in your mind about what the characters look and act like. Whereas if you read the book first, you fill in those details in your own mind - even adding bits of yourself or people you know to the fleshed out characters in your head.

Reading this iPad book took some of that internal magic away from me, but arguably added enough magic of its own to compensate.

So is this the future of eBooks? My answer is that it's one future. There are certain works of fiction that would lend themselves well to animation and sound effects: childrens books, poetry books where the poet wants to augment their words with the help of animation, books with strong imagery where animation would enhance the experience (the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe, for example).

Many other books will be best left to the reader's visual imagination, or are simply too wordy or complex to convert into an animated story.

This form of eBook also is very insular, in that it has no social features and no links to external Web content. This perhaps says more about what Apple allows an iPad application to easily do. Still, it's worth noting that eBooks are capable of a much more expansive experience than what Moving Tales presents.

The Pedlar Lady is an impressive eBook though, visually stunning and stylishly delivered. What are your thoughts on animated eBooks? Also let us know in the comments if you've come across similar eBooks - on the iPad, PC, or other devices.