The unusual thing about Jim's partial novel is that it's not the usual black and white e-book with color cover art. It's all in color, with the pages lightly tinted to look like parchment and headers and footers printed in dark brown to contrast with the black story text. He also included some maps of the story world as well as interesting story bits in sidebar boxes with a different colored background and font. I've never seen a fiction e-book like it, and I thought it was very different and quite attractive.
The idea is definitely ahead of our technology -- at the moment I believe all the e-reader devices on the market simply have black-and-white screens (and I don't own any so please correct me if I'm wrong.) The only way to appreciate an e-book in color like Jim's would be either on your computer or a device with a color screen that can display electronic text (I might try to download this to my Palm and see if I can view the colors on it.)
We all know how insanely expensive it would be to print a fiction book in color; we leave that privilege to the children's and nonfic authors. For fiction writers, everything other than the cover art has to be in black and white. But looking at Jim's innovative work makes me wonder if we really have to stick to the B&W rule for fiction e-books. What is stopping us from adding a little color to our electronic reads?
Now, I'm not proposing that everyone go crazy with color and publish e-books with electric blue fonts on hot pink pages. Whenever you use color in conjunction with something you have to read for an extended period of time, or that will be read from a digital or electronic device, less is always more. But Jim Duncan's example has me thinking of ways I can use color beyond the cover art. I'd probably start out lightly tinting the pages and see what effects I can get.
What do you guys think? Good idea, bad idea, something to play with and see what happens? Let us know in comments.