Towards richly annotated digital books

I am reading Lord of the Rings again and, as always, there are many words, phrases and names I don’t know. But this time I am reading digitally, so when Denethor talks about “Vorondil father of Mardil” who “hunted the wild kine of Araw in the far fields of Rhûnm,” I can at least look up ‘Vorondil’ and cross-check his place in the appendix.

Even better would be an easy way to pull up and cross-check the Tolkien Gateway, the Interactive Middle-Earth map, or perhaps Andy Serkis’s off-kilter renditions of Tom Bombadil’s songs in a way that allows the reader to luxuriate in the details without losing their place in the text.

I suppose that copyright is one of the big reasons we don’t have this. But if the creators of the Dolphin emulator or Harmy’s Despecialized Edition can persist and even thrive in legal limbo, why not a book?

I think there are some unsolved UX problems here, and I think this could be a good project for someone who believes in the transformative power of derivative works.