Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Noodling More On Evolution Of Publishing

Yesterday's blog post in which I tried to figure out how all the value propositions in the existing supply chain for publishing and books might evolve and adapt into new ones inspired some great comments.  No, the comments don't appear below the original source for this blog, but rather in the comments of the feed for this blog being imported into a note on Facebook.

Yes, the beauty of the complex nature of this original source material I publish to the web and which gets fed through various RSS type feeds into different locations and consumed by different people can lead to dynamically different discussions and conversation chains in each of the comment areas.

Which is part of what Sean Cranbury from Books on the Radio was getting at in his insightful commentary and further to discussions I've listened to Hugh McGuire have on the Media Hacks podcast (which I get as part of the subscription to the Six Pixels of Separation Podcast from Mitch Joel) about the nature of what a book is and can be when it moves to the web.

In his comments, Sean beautifully calls to mind the concept of collaboration where the original linear logic of the supply chain is blended and sifted through -- where certain pieces that are valued are kept and others that have no value (particularly in specific regions or to certain customers), are tossed away.

Image from

He mentions customized mixups and mashups of content that might very-well vary from the original work but are still based on the same. And we're already beginning to see that in places such as BookRiff or SymText and many other places where content creators/publishers can place their work online and consumers can pop in, customize the content to suit their needs and select the way in which they want to consume it.

I've long admired the Flatworld Knowledge textbook model -- the content is in place and there are mulitple ways to mix and consume it, choice being a huge value add. Sometimes it's a digital online entity, sometimes it's mixed media, sometimes it's a print product. Sometimes it's all of them or a unique mixture.

Sean suggested some interesting points regarding differentiations based on geography and population bases which I thought were intriguing.  Perhaps some areas can continue to rely more on physical and traditional distribution models due to large population bases and proximity factors, while others that are not as centralized or not as densely populated can take advantage of more efficient digital distributions. I can see a world in which all options are available, and the ones more advantageous to the creator/curator/consumer are the ones that grow in some areas and shrink in others.

I also received commentary on the Facebook comment channel from a friend from high school who was butting up against the walls of marketing and getting word about her novel out there when her book was first printed with a really small publisher then she moved it on into a self-published effort.  It gave me more thoughts on the value that publishers add and perhaps how authors and publishers and even booksellers could work together towards helping bring the content to the appropriate readers. The key being getting it to the appropriate readers, not to a mass audience.  As I fondly recall Robert J. Sawyer saying in an interview several years back, you don't want to thrust your novel into the hands of every single reader, just the readers who are most likely to enjoy the type of novel you've written. If you push your science fiction novel into the hands of someone who doesn't like reading science fiction you're doing the reader and the author a disservice.

Of course, in the interest of helping my friend Deena Thomson share the love about her book Poppies, and potentially helping a reader who might enjoy her book (with a catch-phrase of "One moment can change a liftime"), I encourage you to check out the Google Books listing for it -- read what it's about, check out the glowing reviews, read some free samples, then check out the options available to purchase it (putting in a plug that because of it's availability through Ingram distribution virtually any bookstore anywhere can order it for you if you'd rather go with your favourite local bookstore)

Of course there are more thoughts swirling around in my head than are typed out in this blog right now, Horatio.  Too many thoughts to attempt to put into a consise post, so I'll just stop here and keep noodling on more ideas.

But one thing is for sure, I love thinking about this stuff.

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