I was both interested and excited to see Guy Le Charles Gonzalez editorial post – ‘E’ is for Experiment (Not E-books) at Publishing Perspectives last week, as I’ve also been gearing up to discuss ‘e’ for my panel presentation ‘Harnessing ‘e” at Digital Book World next week. I’m on a panel with Lisa Holton, Will Schwalbe and Hillel Cooperman where we will be discussing ‘Synergizing the Book and Web: Books Plus in the 21st Century.
In ‘‘E’ is for Experiment’, Guy Le Charles Gonzalez stated, “The year 2010 will undoubtedly be the year of “e,” but it’s not going to stand for e-book; it will stand for experimentation. Experimentation with contracts, rights, formats and distribution channels; experimentation that will certainly include e-books, and rightfully so, but they won’t be the central focus — for publishers nor readers.”
Additionally, I believe that the year 2010 will also be the year that transmedia begins to emerge organically and might just start impacting on the publishing model as we know it. For my contribution as panelist to ‘Synergizing the Book and Web’ at DBW, I’ve planned to discuss ‘harnessing ‘e’’ but my four ‘e’s symbolize
‘engage’, all of which, ultimately fall under the larger umbrella of Guys ‘e’ for experiment!
From both a publishing and a transmedia point of view, harnessing ‘e’ is pivotal in extending story – horizontally across emerging platforms and vertically by offering drill-down options, and will help catapult publishing from analogue to digital by:
‘Engage’ – It’s no secret that everybody wants the ‘eyeballs’, but the skill is in keeping them. By being savvy to genre reader/audience behaviour, transmedia as a publishing mode will work by locking in existing and dedicated readers, whilst also holding the attention of new readers who will be attracted and intrigued by these new modes of storytelling. The relevance of the platform, mode of storytelling and participative user experiences will be key to engaging readers on the right level, but with a harmonic blend of strategy and rollout, books and web could attract an entire new population.
‘Entertain’ – which is, primarily, why we read. Publishing as a screen-based activity is the most challenged of all storytelling mediums. Film, video, music, plays and narrated stories have a natural affinity with digital as they are either immersive screen-orientated activities or passive aural experiences. There is an entire new discussion surrounding ebooks, Kindle, Nooks, Copia and the entire host of digital platforms that allow for accessible, portable screen reading, however as a mode of entertainment in their current state, they remain rather limiting. No doubt with Apple announcing the launch of the tablet on 27th January, there will be writers and publishers teaming up with media partners to synergize content written specifically for the tablet, which in turn, will entertain through storytelling modes. iPhone and mobile apps are one of many transmedia modes of engagement and entertainment and, as stated in the PICNIC Contagious Special Report on Mobile Apps 2009, the best ones are useful, relevant and entertaining.
This is the basis of the latest ‘She Says’ Event ‘Get Your App Together‘ being held, conveniently for me as I’ll be presenting in NYC that very day, on Tuesday 26th January at Thornberg & Forester, 78 Fifth Avenue, NYC. There’s no doubt that mobile apps benefit the brand and the story by engaging readers/audience in this emerging space.
‘Experience’ – there will always be readers who only want to read, which offers an experience in itself. As a writer I’ve always attempted to make my readers temporarily ‘unpack their bags and move in’ which is the essence of writing and offering an immersive experience. In our attention-deficient environment and with the shifting communication landscape publishers can use transmedia and ‘e’ to attract readers by offering new, exciting and positive experiences with immersion options and real-world events.
‘Enhance’ – which is, ultimately, what synergizing the book and web will do – enhance the story, the entire reading experience and the revenue streams. By offering widely accessible transmedia stories, perhaps with marketing tie-ins or additional content that will add value, to harness ‘e’ is an exciting and effective way to add value and enhancements. Strategy remains key, but whilst transmedia doesn’t necessarily hold ‘book’ at its epicentre, books plus can translate to the potential of plus possible revenue streams, plus additional content, plus casting a wider net, plus value, plus user generated content…
The Digital Book World definition of ‘books plus’ informs, “Books Plus” is an industry term that describes a package that includes a book and something else, usually a CD or DVD but sometimes a tool like a “digital pen” that talks when passed over a word in the text. But the web is now creating a whole new set of possibilities for books plus and even offering the opportunity for the “plus” to include “plus revenue.” Our panelists take a different approach to synergizing book and web, all of which will be of interest to publishers who see that the book and web are commercial allies and want to capitalize on that fact.”
With rumours of the NYC ‘big 6’ (Harper Collins, Penguin, Macmillan, Hachette, Random House, Simon & Schuster in negotiations with Apple it is evident that the publishing model is ready to spread its wings and I’ve been writing my PhD project/digi novel for a series of multi devices, including the Apple tablet.
Bonnier R&D have been looking at how such a tablet might possibly transform the magazine reading experience, considering bite sized chunks for new modes of storytelling.
The guys at Bonnier R&D state, “the concept uses the power of digital media to create a rich and meaningful experience, while maintaining the relaxed and curated features of printed magazines. It has been designed for a world in which interactivity, abundant information and unlimited options could be perceived as intrusive and overwhelming.
Whilst, undeniably, magazine reading is an inherently different experience than novel reading, for me, in the chick lit/romcom genre, there are similarities to the bite sized chunks and nature of content that make this type of device a front runner to be considered and there’s no doubt that, in their current state, it renders the Nook, Kindle and various e-readers 2-dimensional!
To conclude with a quote from Guy’s post at Publishing Perspectives, “Thanks to years of word processing, email and blogs, reading short amounts of text on-screen has become normal, and digital multitasking has become a fact of our corporate and personal lives. And yet, e-books still haven’t found a mainstream audience for long-form narratives, neither in fiction nor non-fiction, despite the pervasiveness of the PDF format; the [not really, not yet] standard ePub format; the existence for several years now of dedicated e-readers, tablet and handheld computers; and Amazon’s two years of putting its marketing muscle behind the Kindle. Romance is a notable exception here, but it’s an exception, not the rule. The same was true for porn for a long time when it came to paid online content.”
‘Romance’ and ‘porn’ both used in the same sentence once again? Maybe despite their ‘stigma’ it seems readers/audiences will continue to pay for what they want, and much of the romance ebook success I feel points directly to Harlequin Mills & Boon and their dedication to nurturing communities that women want to be a part of.