DBW Weekly Roundup: 11/12/10

DBW Weekly RoundupDigital Book World presents a weekly round-up of some of the most interesting news, commentary and tweets related to publishing that you may have missed, from all over the digital book world:

Why The Book Business May Soon Be The Most Digital Of All Media Industries
James McQuivey, Forrester Research

I’m sure you’re ahead of me on this one, but let’s just spell it out. We have plenty of room to grow beyond the 7% that read e-books today and, once they get the hang of it, e-book readers quickly shift a majority of their book reading to a digital form. More e-book readers reading a greater percentage of their books in digital form means our nearly $3 billion figure in 2015 will be easy to hit, even if nothing else changes in the industry. Meaning even if we never get color e-Ink screens, if publishers never experiment with e-book subscriptions, and interactive e-book formats never succeed, we will still see digital get close to $3 billion in size by the middle of the decade.

At that size and higher, not only do publishers need to take digital seriously—they must make it the new default for publishing, preparing for a day in which physical book publishing is an adjunct activity that supports the digital publishing business. And this dramatic reversal will have happened faster in book publishing than in any other media business. Not just because publishers have had years to watch other media industries face the digital transition, but also because book publishing is a single-revenue business.

Content must be freed. Not necessarily free.
Andrew Davies, idio

Whether you can charge for your content distracts from a core issue which plays into all future business models and business value. If your customers pay for your content, great! But regardless of the pricing strategy and revenue model, content should be unshackled, able to travel, and endlessly reusable. It is this type of free that allows us to work for paid-content AND “open” content publishers. Whether you are a book publisher, magazine house, news organisation, digital media property or a brand, your content is only truly valuable when it is liberated from legacy restrictions.

Tor.com: Sci-Fi and Fantasy by Other Means
Calvin Reid, Publishers Weekly

Since its launch in July 2008, the site has acquired and published more than 60 pieces of original short fiction (novellas and short stories) by professional writers. “We’re building an online community,” said Tor Books art director Irene Gallo. “Traffic continues to grow, helped by word-of-mouth, and we use social media to drive it.” Tor.com has “over 200,000 active registered users,” Gallo said. “We do better than double that in unique viewers every month and have grown 40% in the past four months.” Gallo also said that “the key statistic” is the time per visit “our community members spend—weekly averages of four and five minutes per visit are not uncommon.” … Even more important, she added, the site allows editors to “talk directly to readers and for readers to talk to us,” helping to build relationships with new authors as well as with an army of illustrators. “I can try an artist out and see how they work,” she said, pointing to the site’s ever-growing gallery of works by artists who have created illustrations or comics for the site. “Tor.com has helped us speed up the publishing process,” Gallo said, “and we can promote works by releasing a chapter through the site or by bringing in authors from other publishers.”

Random House’s page-and-screen website
Carolyn Kellogg, Jacket Copy

There are two interesting aspects to the site: first, the collapsing of boundaries between imprints, which would generally act independently of one another, doing marketing and promotion book by book. Secondly, it’s a new take on the publishing life cycle: In most cases, by the time a movie is released, the initial marketing push around a book is long over. Generally, by the time a book gets to the screen, it’s history — and the screen version brings it new life, and broader reach. So Random House is interrupting the traditional workflow of book promotion to better fit how people consume culture; that seems smart.

Hollywood Throws Big Bucks at Untested Novelists
Lisa Carroll, The Wrap

“It helps when you have pre-exposure, because the number of copies that move can help a studio decide how much money to invest and know how big an audience there is,” said Jason Dravis, a literary agent and the president of Montiero Rose Dravis Agency, which recently sold the young adult series to “The Hunger Games” to Lionsgate. “Not that there is any certainty,” he added. “‘Harry Potter’ did well, but ‘Golden Compass’ was a huge book series and did not find an audience.” “In general, studios are being more selective about the properties they buy,” Dravis told The Wrap. “But if you’ve got a unique and original perspective with a message that crosses different boundaries, there’s still a market.”

Money, Money, Money
Simon Pulman, Transmythology

The deals described by thewrap are ostensibly being made on the back of loglines and treatments.  My suggestion is that the work of transforming these properties from clever pitches into sustainable franchises begins right now.  Somebody – a publisher, a producer, or very likely an agent (defining their traditional role) – needs to prepare these manuscripts for Transmedia before they are published.  Remember, Transmedia is not multi-platform – it is the possibility of multi-platform.  That’s a subtle distinction, but I hope it is clear.  The real work takes place in development – not years down the line when you want to make a sequel or sell a cartoon series.

Tweet of the Week

J. W. Eagan on Hollywood adaptations, via Word and Film

That’s just a taste of what you may have missed this week. To stay on top of the most interesting news, commentary and tweets related to publishing, keep in touch via our RSS feed, follow us on Twitter, join your publishing colleagues in our LinkedIn group, and connect with the broader DBW Network.


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