At JoSara, we obviously are fans of enhanced eBooks, with three currently available and more on the way. We appreciate the medium.
Below is a review original published on one of our author’s blog of a recent admirable effort in this area.
As a developer of enhanced eBooks, I notice it is easy to use too much media (an overabundance of non-germane videos, audio or pictures), or to not put it in the right places. The enhanced eBook medium should live up to its name: enhance the book and the reading/learning experience, not take it over.
The material in this book (Simple Qigong Exercises for Health: The Eight Pieces of Brocade) has been around for quite some time. Dr. Yang’s first edition was in 1988, his second in 1997. The enhanced version (available for iBooks, meaning it runs on iPads, iPhones and Macs) extends that material with the right amount of video and audio examples.
The contents of this version are the same as the recent 3rd edition printing, and follow Dr. Yang’s norms for structuring his books: Chapter 1 provides a general introduction to history, Qi and Qigong, the history of the Eight Pieces of Brocade, and information on Qigong Theory and Training. Chapter 2 goes deeper into training theory. Chapter 3 and 4 are the walkthroughs and descriptions of the Sitting and Standing versions of the Eight Pieces of Brocade. In all chapters, as he does in his other books, Dr. Yang presents the original Chinese descriptions, and offers translations for better understanding. Some of the Qigong information in the first chapters of this book are similar to his other qigong books, but repetition helps with memory.
“Remember that the most important thing in the training is not the forms themselves, but rather the theory and principle of each form, which constitute the root. Once you understand these, you will be able to use your wisdom mind (yi, ?) to lead the qi to circulate and bring you to health. Therefore, when you practice you should try to understand the poetry or the “secret words.” They have been passed down for hundreds of years and are the root of the practice. Because of cultural and language differences, it is very difficult to translate into English all of the meaning of the Chinese. We will try to keep as close as possible to the Chinese and hope that you are able to get not just the meaning, but also the taste of the original.” (pg 145)
This enhanced editions includes 23 video demonstrations, and additional still photos where appropriate. The videos were of high enough digital quality to watch them on a variety of devices (tried them on iPad air, on Mac, and on Apple TV through AirPlay with no noticeable drop in video quality).
This enhanced eBook version provides Dr. Yang’s straightforward explanations and translations of the material with demonstrations of each of the sitting and standing pieces. There are some intricacies that a student might miss just reading from a book; with the videos (and audio) demonstrations the pieces are made clearer and easier to follow. The multimedia examples on the second and third sitting pieces were particularly helpful, as they helped me to pick up a couple of things I was missing (Dr. Yang really clomps his teeth together; I was just closing my mouth!)
A screenshot from the enhanced eBook is below.
This enhanced edition also provides (as all enhanced editions should) hot linked table of contents and index.
Though a student should almost always try to find an appropriate teacher (in my humble opinion), this enhanced edition is an excellent learning tool.
Full disclosure: I have attended two Qigong seminars with Dr. Yang and have read several of his books before going through this enhanced eBook. I have reviewed several of his books on my website and I am a fan of his fact-over-mystery teaching style. I was provided this enhanced eBook as a review copy.