Monday, September 19, 2011

Around the Word

All the e-books fit to print? As print media accelerates its acculturation to digial, the line between long articles on the web and e-books has been getting increasingly blurry. To wit: the New York Times reported yesterday on the growing number of traditional news outlets -- including the Times, the Huffington Post, Politico and the New Yorker -- that are morphing into e-book publishers. The topical tomes that these outlets are selling, mostly written by their staffers, are being touted as a low-cost way to create a new revenue stream. Do you think these news organizations can handle this double duty?

The electronic campfire: With all the overhyped hand-wringing over the death of books going on today, we love to hear (and share) contrarian perspectives from smart publishing types who see the upside of the e-volution for writers and writing. A great example is this fresh take on an old metaphor from Molly Barton, president of the online writers' community Book Country. While storytelling originated as an oral form, where the speaker would stand up at the campfire and see how his audience reacted to the story, modern prose is a more solitary process. In the age of social media, "what if we could create lots of little fires around which writers could tell their stories and gauge the reaction of a keen audience?" Barton asks. Can crowdsourcing make for more inventive fiction and more compelling journalism? What do you think about writing for the crowd?

Kick-start your crowdfunding: Speaking of harnessing the power of the crowd, a new Kickstarter-like service specifically for book projects, called Pubslush, has hit the Interwebs and caught our attention. According to eBookNewser, "Readers can get a sample chapter of the book, and if they want to purcahse it, they can 'fund' the project." Though other "Kickstarter for books" sites, like Unbound, have encountered problems, it seems like Pubslush has a model that might work. Check it out and let us know if you agree.

Impressive imprint: As traditional publishers downsize and disappear, it's always heartening to see an independent publisher with a long history still thriving. Douglas & McIntyre, one of the largest indie publishers left in Canada, has just turned 40 and is going as strong as ever, reports the Vancouver Sun. Co-founder Scott McIntyre has seen a rapidly changing industry since he started the house in 1972. "I've never seen a rate of change like this," he told the Sun. "I've never seen conflicting signals of this kind." What's his secret to survival in this new landscape? Embracing e-books, venturing into digital start-ups, and maintaining a varied catalogue of books. "We're enormously proud of our survival skills," said McIntyre.

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