Dr. Nishith Tripathi and Dr. Jeffrey Reed of Virginia Tech, world experts on wireless communication, co-authored the immensely successful textbook Cellular Communications: A Comprehensive and Practical Guide, published by Wiley-IEEE in 2014. For their next textbook, they wanted to create an interactive ebook that featured over one hundred HD videos, without burdening students with the enormous file size. With Kotobee, they created a textbook that engages students with interactive questions, over 3,450 minutes of videos and podcasts, and the etextbook file size is a mere 0.03% of the original content.

We interviewed Dr. Nishith D. Tripathi, wireless industry expert and adjunct faculty member at Virginia Tech, to learn how with Kotobee, he and Dr. Jeffrey Reed created the world’s first interactive multimedia textbook on 5G cellular communication.

The Challenge

Tell us a bit about your project.

Our project is a multimedia ebook, which explains the latest wireless communication technology called 5G or fifth-generation cellular technology. Our book has more than 3,450 minutes of video-based learning and podcast-based learning. We have 110 high-definition videos and 10 podcasts, and 134 interactive exercises along with traditional elements of a book such as sections, key terms, references, and chapter summaries. This is history-making multimedia ebook because it is the first of its kind in the field of wireless communications.

What challenges did you face prior to using Kotobee?

Our main requirements of smooth interworking of an EPUB file with the ebook development package (such as Kotobee Author), security to prevent unauthorized use (e.g., sharing of passwords), true standalone ebook that a user can download or access (instead of purely website-based access to content), and interactive exercises, and cloud-based video storage were not satisfactorily met by any non-Kotobee software in the market. We could not have accomplished the state-of-the-art multimedia ebook without Kotobee Author.

What other options did you explore?

We explored options such as Adobe InDesign, Amazon Kindle, and Vimeo. We had the primary project goals of preservation of InDesign templates, cloud-based secure access to content, and interactive exercises. However, none of the solutions met our needs. For example, Adobe InDesign could have been used to create an EPUB file with links to cloud-based videos but would not be secure and would not have the BookWidgets interactive exercises. Vimeo would have been just a website-based platform and not have the book-type format. Amazon Kindle does not support interactive exercises and does not support large files. At this time, Kotobee is the only platform (that we could find) that enabled us to integrate our HD videos, podcasts, Adobe InDesign book design templates, and BookWidgets exercises. And, of course, cloud-based secure access to the multimedia ebook is also very useful.

The Solution

How did you hear about Kotobee?

We need to thank Google for that! We had been searching for a good solution for the multimedia ebook. We probably spent more than 3 to 6 months searching for a good ebook development platform. Kotobee was found to be the most stable and flexible solution for our project. Initially, we were looking for a stable platform that could open an EPUB file generated by Adobe InDesign and play videos and podcasts. However, once we became aware of Kotobee’s features, we were able to expand our original vision into a highly sophisticated history-making multimedia ebook that has shown how effective and enjoyable a learning experience can be.

What drove you to choose Kotobee?

In our view, Kotobee offers several features that together provide a unique solution to the multimedia ebook solution.

We have 114 HD videos, and, it would have needed more than 100 GB of storage on the buyer’s device (e.g., a Windows laptop or Mac) just for the videos alone. Such a solution would have been impractical. Kotobee’s cloud-based solution enabled us to store the actual HD videos on Kotobee server and simply include secure links to the server. Our ebook is less than 300 MB although the learner has access to more than 100 GB of multimedia content.

We wanted to have a variety of interactive exercises. Even popular ebook platforms such as Adobe InDesign and Amazon Kindle do not support the type of interactions that we had imagined. Kotobee’s support for BookWidgets enabled us to provide a highly interactive learning experience so that key concepts can be reinforced through a variety of exercises.

We wanted to have an elegant layout for the book. We used Adobe InDesign to create the overall design template for the book. Kotobee Author seamlessly and accurately imported the EPUB format of our book created in Adobe InDesign, maintaining the original design elegance including Table of Content and links to references.

We wanted to prevent unauthorized copying of the multimedia ebook. Kotobee’s solution provides excellent security, where we can limit the number of devices on which the ebook can be accessed.

Has Kotobee's support team contributed to your selection criteria in any way?

Absolutely. While Kotobee met the main requirements of our project, Kotobee support team gave us the confidence that we would get help if we get stuck with a challenge and that prompt response will be available. For example, it initially took much longer to open an EPUB file in Kotobee Reader, but Kotobee worked on design enhancements in the form of software upgrades to reduce the file opening delay. Additionally, Kotobee Customer Relations scheduled live support to walk us through key features that enabled us to smoothly launch our ebook. The creation of the ebook file, the purchase procedure (with WooCommerce integration), and ebook release (e.g., automatic generation of user account emails when a book is purchased and use of promo codes) were clearly explained to us. Such active support accelerated our book launch and made the book release an easy process.

How difficult was the onboarding process with Kotobee, transitioning from an older system?

We were completely new to the multimedia ebook development and launch. With the help of Kotobee, we were able to convert our vision into reality. Kotobee support truly made a difference and facilitated the creation of a beautiful multimedia ebook with an unprecedented learning experience for the learner in the universities as well as industry.

Is there a particular aspect of Kotobee that you rely on the most?

We significantly rely on the video player of Kotobee and Kotobee Author. The ability of Kotobee Author to (i) import an EPUB file while preserving the original design layouts, Table of Contents, and links (e.g., references to websites and cross-section references), (ii) integrate smoothly with BookWidgets, and (iii) provide a secure access to the content stored in the cloud are very critical.

The Results

How did Kotobee influence the success of your business? Any metrics would be useful.

As mentioned earlier, the creation of the multimedia ebook itself is the primary measure of our success. Without Kotobee, our vision of the first-ever multimedia ebook in the cellular industry would not have become a reality.

In what ways is your competitive advantage enhanced?

Indeed, our book is the first-ever multimedia ebook in the cellular communications industry. No one in our field of wireless communications has developed a multimedia ebook. Since we are pioneers for multimedia ebook, our multimedia ebook simply has no multimedia ebook competition at all!

The Future

What are your plans for the future?

We hope to add more types of interactive exercises. Furthermore, we would also like to explore Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (AR/VR) experience, perhaps in conjunction with Adobe software package.

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