Tell Us About The Future Of Publishing

May 15th, 2007 · 12 Comments
by Kirk Biglione

We spend quite a bit of time at Booksquare headquarters talking about what’s wrong with the publishing industry. These discussions usually focus on the industry’s seeming fear of new technology and the fact that, some days, it seems like the future of publishing will never happen.

We suspect that it’s not so much a fear of the future as it is an overly cautious nature. That and the fact that the existing business model and marketing methods seem to work just fine — for now, at least. It’s that sort of comfort with the status quo that drives us to drink (and shout, and swear, and generally behave in a manner that causes the neighbors to close their windows and turn off all the lights).

Despite our skeptical nature, we have a sneaking suspicion that not all is wrong with the book business. In fact, we suspect that there are a number of you out there doing creative and interesting things with the Internet and new media. It’s even possible that we don’t know about your innovative activities. Booksquare is not all-seeing and all-knowing (although if anyone asks you didn’t hear that from us*).

This is all just a long way of saying that we’re working on a project that will highlight innovative uses of new media in the publishing industry. If you’re a publisher, author, agent, or publicist, we’d like you to tell us what you’re doing online and how it’s working out for you.

Blogs are great, but there’s quite a bit more to the Internet than blogging. We’re particularly interested in hearing about projects involving new media, the social web, online communities, mobile applications, and electronic distribution (you can speak to us after class if you need definitions for any of these phrases).

What we’re not looking for: Please don’t bore us with technical details about your platform of choice. We’re not interested in hearing about how well .Net scales or how you built your project for next to nothing by using LAMP. We want to hear about ways that you’re using new media to connect with readers, sell books, and promote your work. We’re looking for best practices and business cases, not technical specifications.

If you’re actively involved in an innovative use of new media please contact us today. If you know of someone who is doing something interesting, please refer them to us. And if you’re a blogger please help spread the word, since not everyone reads Booksquare (although if anyone asks you didn’t hear that from us**).

Send information about your new media efforts to future@booksquare.com and we’ll follow up with you to learn more about what you’re doing.

Editor’s Notes:

* – By “us”, he means him as we are indeed all-seeing and all-knowing. The only thing that escapes our notice is “dust”. Also “piles of books”. And “messes”.

** – Sigh. You let the man post once and he’s already confused. What he meant to say is that with the various Internets, not everybody is on the same Internet we are. BS is only available on Internet A.

[tags]Publishing, Writing, Social Media, New Media[/tags]

File Under: The Future of Publishing

12 responses so far ↓

  • Deborah Smith // May 15, 2007 at 10:24 am

    BelleBooks is a tiny press, not even a “small” press. No staff, no salaries, after six years still a beloved hobby hoping to turn into a fulltime job. Run by former current and former genre fiction authors, all women. All with significant publishing credentials as authors with the big NY houses but no experience in the business of publishing. We started our tiny regional press(“Motto: Southern Fried Fiction at its finest) with total capital equivalent to buying a ten-year-old used Chevy. Now, six years later, we’ve published about twenty books and are well into six figures in terms of gross revenue. We’ve never lost money on a book we’ve published. Of course, like I said, this is a hobby, not a salaried business. How are we using the internet to reach our niche readers (older, mostly women, mostly Southern)

    1. We’ve developed an extensive email mailing list which we use for ads and promotional giveaways.
    2. We create content specifically for our email list and website visitors — free short stories and free excerpts from upcoming books.
    3. We’ve gone multimedia with recorded audio excerpts on our website.
    4. We’re developing homemade video promos.
    5. We’re developing a Members Only section of the website with exclusive content including free “Storyteller’s Showcase” that allows authors to promo their work for interested readers.
    6. We’re going digital with our books in digital format offered for sale by one of the online digital booksellers.
    7. We’re doing extensive email advertising through a network of author/reader hosting sites. Literally tens of thousands of readers can be reached through these popular e-world gathering spots for specific genre interests.

  • Kassia Krozser // May 15, 2007 at 10:09 pm

    Wow, very weird to comment on a post that I didn’t write. I feel so awkward.

    Deborah — Naturally I’ve been aware of BelleBooks since, wow, forever. Book one? Possibly. So I’m very excited to read that the house is doing so well (though I guess I see it more as a front porch). And I’m interested in how you’re reaching your audience (on the way to making the hobby a job because it’s always nice to do what [else] you love).

    One thing I notice that you didn’t (specifically) mention is a blog. That might tie in with the email list and web only content (yeah, there should be hyphen somewhere in there). Maybe it’s because I’m familiar with the group of writers involved, but I think a blogging component would be a great addition to your outreach efforts. A great mailing list is essential, web-only content is critical, but there are also people who are RSS junkies (moi) — think of it like a communication trident. Each prong has a slightly different approach. It’s a different way of reaching different readers.

    I’m also curious about the Members Only section and how that will be deployed. I think there’s a great potential in offering a certain level of content for free but making even more available behind the velvet rope. If you don’t want to spill the beans now, maybe we can talk when it’s ready to launch…

    Finally, tell me more about the ebooks — inquiring minds need to know… Okay, I’m just going to come out and ask. Many of you previously published with a house that is no longer among the living. Many of you are remembered fondly. In some circles, your books are considered collectible. Yes, getting around to coming out and asking. While those books don’t fit the BelleBooks mandate, are any of the principals considering making their out-of-print titles available electronically either as bonuses (for members) or free (for the heck of it) or for sale (for those who are interested)?

    This question is veering away from Kirk’s question, but I think it fits in with the Long Tail ideas that are frequently discussed here. Discussing the future of publishing must necessarily include talk about out-of-print or hard-to-find works.

  • Kassia Krozser // May 15, 2007 at 10:22 pm

    Okay, maybe I was born to be a commenter. One of my favorite examples of the social web is at eHarlequin. As far back as I can remember, there have been robust, deep forums on the site. In fact, I don’t know of another publisher who has built and sustained such a strong community of publishing professionals, writers, and readers.

    And while I think some of the content would be better suited to other platforms, I acknowledge that those platforms weren’t necessarily available or mature at the time the forums were launched. It’s a great example of what publishers should have been doing for the past decade.

  • Kassia Krozser // May 15, 2007 at 10:26 pm

    Okay. Last comment, I promise. I know that Jeremy is more than capable of tooting his own horn, but I wanted to mention the Penguin wiki as one more great example of using the principles of Web 2.0:

    A Million Penguins

    Also, the Penguin blog is worth a shout-out — it’s on my must-read list (so many contenders, so few make the cut):

    The Penguin Blog (who knew they could type?)

  • KR Blog » Blog Archive » Take Two // May 16, 2007 at 5:32 am

    […] on the Book Industry Study Group’s “Making Information Pay 2007″ conference, and Kirk Biglione asks publishers to share their creative new media efforts. All of this chatter about distribution […]

  • Diana Hunter // May 16, 2007 at 6:17 am

    Last October I joined Second Life after I’d heard about it on NPR. In that broadcast I learned Toyota, Ford and IBM were creating in-world presences and I figured if they could, why couldn’t I? So I joined up with the express purpose of promoting my books (I write erotic romances…Ellora’s Cave is my publisher; they offer both ebook and print formats of all my books).

    I found a world filled with stories just waiting to be told and so began a serial set in Second Life and published (at this point) only in Second Life. Readers can download the material one of two ways…as a notecard (limited in # of characters) or, using a new reader developed by a user, a larger file can be read as an on-screen book. Yes, I do sell these episodes for a nominal fee.

    I also have a bookshop where I showcase my RL (real-life) books. People visit the shop and click on a book and get a notecard with an excerpt of the book along with purchasing information. Hard to tell what promotions work from a royalty statement, but I can tell you my website hits are up and my newsletter sign-ups have gone up.

    So yes, online communities DO provide avenues for not only expression, but for publishing and promotion as well!

    Diana

  • Kirk Biglione // May 16, 2007 at 11:48 am

    Diana, thanks for bringing up Second Life. As a matter of fact, Booksquare’s embedded Second Life reporter (new hire) was just at your book shop yesterday. You will be contacted shortly by a Mr. Ronin Kurosawa. He’d like to talk with you more about your SL experiences.

  • Thinking About The Future Of Publishing | Oxford Media Works // May 16, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    […] on our Booksquare blog we’ve just put out a call for examples of innovative uses of new media in the publishing indus…. If you’re a publisher, author, agent, or publicist, and you’re doing something interesting […]

  • Janet Szabo // May 20, 2007 at 7:01 am

    I run an e-mail list for knitters interested in my particular area of knitting expertise (cable and Aran knitting). Twice now (once in 2001 and again in 2006), I have hosted a sweater knitalong to promote my self-published books. Knitters who want to “knit along” join the group. The first knitalong was held on the e-list: I posted instructions for knitting a sweater (my own design) in installments. Knitters would knit each section, and while they waited for the next installment, there would be discussions about subjects germane to the sweater-knitting process.

    The second knitalong was also set up on an installment basis, but the instructions were posted on my website rather than the e-list.

    I do periodic Google searches on these two projects, and it’s just amazing how much exposure I got because of them. I plan to continue to use this format as a marketing medthod, although I think the next KAL will be on a subscription basis (for a modest fee of $5-10).

  • James Bridle // May 23, 2007 at 5:26 am

    I’m a publisher/editor/blogger who’s been having this debate at http://booktwo.org for a while, and I love and share your enthusiasm for the future.

    As a soon-to-be-freelance publisher, I’ve also pushed my company into Myspace, Second Life, Twitter, Scribd and loads of other spaces. Most of the examples can be found at http://stmlstudio.com.

    James

  • booktwo.org Notebook » Stop Press for May 16th through May 23rd // May 23, 2007 at 5:34 pm

    […] Tell Us About The Future Of Publishing – More Booksquare: we’re all invited to pitch in. Spread the word. […]

  • Lee // May 25, 2007 at 2:53 am

    I’m not sure if what I’m doing counts as truly innovative – serialising and podcasting my YA fantasy novel online. I like it because I retain my independence and gain an immediacy with my readers.