Saturday, October 19, 2013

Websearch: Sprint Beyond the Book

This is a new segment where I link websites on writing, publishing, fantasy, and other things that catch my interest.

I found this website thanks to Jane Friedman's e-newletter.  She participated in a conference called Sprint Beyond the Books, where several members of the writing industry gathered to discuss the future of publishing. Their articles are a good resource for those of us trying to keep on top of the publishing trends.

Favorite Articles

"The Blurring Line Between Reader and Writer" by Jane Friedman  

As reading becomes more participatory, the reader will take a larger role in creating the material, while writers will become the facilitators of ideas (Non-Fiction) or builders of worlds (Fiction).  Face-tracking technology will calculate how people read and adapt to their reactions.

"Publishers: What Are They Good For?" by Charlie Stross  

If you ever wanted to know all the steps it takes to go from manuscript to published book (both physical and digital), this article sums it up.  It also explains why it usually takes publishers a year to get the book out.

"The Future of Bookstores" by Lee Konstantinon  

Barnes and Noble may disappear, but new types of bookstores will spring in to fill-in the void.  Ideas include temporary "pop-up" kiosks facilitated by hip "Book DJs," Print on Demand Machines, and a radical socialist experiment known as "the public library."

Gut Reactions

"[Y]ou often find that people's biggest problem has nothing to do with finding stories [...], but with having time to consume everything they find.  One strategy in the self-publishing community [...] is keeping their prices very low (even free) [...] to encourage large volumes of people to buy.  However, this can have the unintended effect of encouraging readers to download or buy many more books than they could ever read [...]." 

--Jane Friedman, "The Importance of Metadata in Book Discoverability"

I agree.  Sad as it is, I rarely read the free downloads of ebooks authors give away.  Since I haven't invested any money in buying it, I don't feel obliged to invest the time in reading it.  However, library books are free and I read them.  I think, since the time in which I have the book is limited, I'm more apt to actually prioritize reading a library book.  Which brings me to an idea.  What if you could download an author's book free for a limited amount of time and then it disappeared?  Wouldn't you be more prone to reading it before it was gone and you had to pay full price?

"The digital era may entail a new type of authorship, one that is built on resampling, remixing, and collaboration.  Authors may evolve to be leaders, moderators, and synthesizers of information, rather than the dictator in control of it."  

--Jane Friedman, "The Idea of the Author Is Facing Extinction"

I think the idea of involving readers works well in Non-Fiction, especially Non-Fiction that delves into a universal human experience.  But for Fiction, I disagree.  In order to tell the story, an author must have the control to say, "This MUST happen."  It's that sense of inevitable that makes a story worth reading.

"Authors are already told they have to behave like brands.  They need to run their own websites, have presence on popular social media sites, cultivate reader communities and market their own books (publishers won't bother).  [... In the future, the publisher's] job [will be] to have good taste.  His livelihood will depend on his reputation.  He will make--and break--canons."

--Lee Konstantinou, "Our Friend the Book DJ"

Depressing.  Publishers have always been "gatekeepers," dictating which writing is good enough to enter the market, but at least they have the decency to do some of the dirty work: editing, marketing, distribution, etc.  In this imagined future the publisher (or Book DJ) will evolve into a super gatekeeper, a kingmaker so to speak, sitting upon his throne of books and bestowing the good ones onto the public. Frankly, I find this rather fantastic.  Who would pay a person to do this job?  And wouldn't, in fact, this job be more akin to a book reviewer anyway?

For Future Research

Websites casually mentioned in the articles.  Must explore in more detail later on.

Kindle Worlds--Fanfiction on Amazon
Kindle Singles--Stories between 10,000-30,000 words
Kindle Serials--Subscriptions
Wattpad--"provides a sandbox for any authors to experiment, practice, and gather readership"
Penflip--"Github for Writers"

1 comment:

  1. This post was thought provoking and a good resource. Thanks--I'm bookmarking it.