TP’s are going to have to realize: simple ebooks, that may not require publishers, only scratch the surface of a gigantic potential! Let’s call this potential ‘transmedia‘ or ‘multimedia’.
Traditional publishing is under attack from many sides — ‘the rise of ebooks, competition from other media, the growing shadow of Amazon’, etc. — and the best way to defeat these attacks is to discover how their existing talents, experience and expertise can be applied to accomplishing the new transmedia (or multimedia) publishing demands — Then taking a leadership/innovative role.
In the recent past, some traditional publishers did dip their toes in these waters, experimenting with a few innovative projects; but these half-hearted efforts didn’t pay for the start-up costs; this resulted in traditional publishers retreating to straight digitization of standard text projects, occasionally adding a half-hearted “enhanced ebook.”
TP must go beyond just accepting the new publishing media, they must embrace it, thrive in it. Salvation may lie in the same source as the challenge.
Eli Horowitz and Russell Quinn, cocreators of The Silent History, a serialized, exploratory novel for iPhone and iPad, have written an exceptional article in HuffPost Re this subject. I know you will enjoy and learn mucho:
Publishing Companies Are Technology Companies. Now It’s Time For Them To Act Like It
The death of publishing has been greatly exaggerated.
Though traditional publishers are being threatened from all sides — the rise of ebooks, competition from other media, the growing shadow of Amazon — publishers have learned from the failures of the music industry, the futility of closing one’s eyes and trying to deny an evolving marketplace. They have conformed to many aspects of digitization, hurrying to convert to required formats and bowing to imposed pricing structures, hoping to not miss the last boat provided by the new marketplace.
However, accepting the future is not the same thing as embracing it, thriving in it. Many of publishers’ traditional functions — printing books, storing and shipping them around the country, maintaining a far-flung sales team — are becoming less relevant as content moves to digital. Self-publishing is an increasingly plausible option, with some remarkable success stories. While nervous companies typically fight to preserve and protect what’s left of their industry, the smart ones figure out how their skills might be applicable in the next. In this new world, how do publishers make themselves valuable and even necessary?
Salvation may lie in the same source as the challenge. Ebooks alone may not require a traditional publisher, but simple ebooks only scratch the surface of the potential of this new realm. Whether we call it transmedia storytelling, interactive fiction, or any other semi-depressing buzzword, we are beginning to see the exciting possibilities: Serialization. Collaboration. Interactivity. Communal reading experiences. Location-aware storytelling. New narrative structures, serving classic storytelling values.
This isn’t about killing books, or forcing unnecessary flash into the reading experience; it’s about providing new tools to our writers and storytellers, engaging readers in new ways. Some early experiments have been successful, while others have been more possibility than reality — which is to be expected with any new form, a natural part of the process of discovery. The formative years of transmedia fiction are taking place against a backdrop of hyper-accelerated technology and an uncertain traditional-publishing industry — at the intersection of startups and panic.
But the potential is clear. Expecting books to be unaffected by these new reading devices would be like expecting cinema to consist of nothing more than filmed plays. True embrace of the emerging formats requires projects more ambitious than simply digitizing a traditional text.
So far, the growth of these evolving forms has been limited by practical obstacles. Unlike straightforward ebooks, transmedia projects can be very difficult for individual authors to undertake on their own. Platforms must be built from the ground up, new markets must be discovered, audiences educated — all for a single one-off project. These challenges would instantly shrink, however, if many projects were brought under a single umbrella — essentially, a new-media publisher. Much of the labor would transfer smoothly from one project to the next: a growing library of code, discovery of best practices, usage analytics, and a relationship with a new community of readers. Costs would quickly decrease, and production speed and sales would improve.