11 thoughts on “The iPad, Transmedia, and the Future of Publishers

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  2. Robert Pratten

    Excellent article.
    The problem with existing publishers and other established media companies is loss aversion. Even though existing revenues are dwindling, no clear-cut future model yet exists and hence they have the attitude of “better the revenues we know than the ones we don’t”.

    The world has only just scratched the surface of the potential for transmedia and it has HUGE opportunities for authors and publishers. Why? Because what the medium needs is good stories, told well across multiple platforms. See yourself as a connector of readers to authors rather than a provider of printed materials.

    The crisis of faith in the industry has created far too much techno-fetish. This is evident in the many quirky, ill-fitting interactive/cross-media experiments that fail to place the reader’s enjoyment/engagement and lifestyle choices at the heart of the experience.

    As a transmedia producer now working with an established writer, I don’t see myself as a gatekeeper but as the agent and publisher rolled into one. I recommend that you follow the development of our transmedia experience, LowLifes (http://lowlifes.ning.com) as it evolves over the coming months. You’ll see that we have a true focus on story, on how the story is consumed and have an innovative business model that benefits from piracy rather than runs from it. I have already posted a couple of blog posts explaining my approach and I’d be delighted to discuss and debate with anyone. If we find the right model then everyone can benefit – the author, the reader and the players that enhance that relationship.

    I think that salvation for publishing will come from outside the industry because inside you can’t see the wood for the trees.


    1. Guy LeCharles Gonzalez Post author

      “agent and publisher rolled into one”

      That’s exactly how I see Transmedia Producer evolving over the next year or two, competing with both for the best projects and being able to offer a much more compelling vision to an author that’s larger than a book. I attended DIY Days NYC this past weekend and it really helped me get a handle on what transmedia could mean for authors: http://bit.ly/a4ANyQ

      Thanks for the link to LowLifes; I’ll check it out!

    2. Alison Norrington

      This is a really interesting post and it’s fabulous that the PGA have recognised transmedia as a skill intrinsic to expanding storyworlds. (although I have been approached and asked why golfers would be interested in transmedia!)

      It could be true that ‘salvation for publishing will come from outside the industry, because inside you can’t see the wood for the trees’, as there is caution and scepticism about transmedia within publishing, however there are also many publishers excited about experimentation and keen to expand storyworlds too.

      For me, it isn’t so much about the iPad, the Kindle, Kobo, Stanza or e-readers, as ‘one-size-fits-all’ won’t work when looking at something as personal as a reading experience. It isn’t so much about focussing on the device, as the platform – and how that platform can enhance and drive the story focus. There will always be relentless arguments about the future of publishing and dedicated ‘serious readers’ will always complain about new technologies or shifting sands. There will also be legions of readers who want bite-sized chunks of story, options to watch video content supported by text and perhaps even to tweet about it as a participant afterwards. They’re the ones that will love transmedia novels!

      In terms of truly combining text, video and audio it seems the iPad could change the way we acquire, consume and interact with digital content and it’s interesting that Guy found that some of the apps ‘demonstrated the real potential for delivering a truly engaging, innovative reading experience’ which will be where publishers will see the golden opportunity and create the space for transmedia novels to jump in.
      ‘Next to its screen size and capacity, herein is perhaps the biggest benefit of the iPad as an eReading device − its ability to purchase and download eBooks from any retailer’ which brings up the subject of accessibility. In our multi-tasking, fast-moving, short attention span lives, content that is accessible will be easier to discover as word-of-mouse will help to spread snippets virally.

      As far as the Producers Guild of America’s latest announcement is concerned, it must be remembered that any transmedia property will only work if it’s supported by an architecture of strategy which has to be rooted deep within genre and audience demographics. Like Guy, I also prefer the definition of transmedia that focuses on storyworld first and feel that a truly credible transmedia project will herald storyworld as its primary focus. Without that focus, it shifts from a viable transmedia rollout to one of those ‘cross-media marketing initiatives and/or brand extensions’.

      Transmedia novelists are still organically growing and a new breed of reader (one that embraces the ‘truly engaging, innovative reading experience’ will require a new breed of writer and publisher too. Transmedia publishing won’t replace publishing as we know it, but will offer options to those who want them. Advertising agencies are harnessing ‘story’ and fragmenting brand presence through social media means, infiltrating and embedding logos and brands within these stories. For transmedia novelists (and publishers) to retain creative control will require more than a repurposing of content. This might give a ‘taste’ of what transmedia can ‘do’, but for it to work on all levels it must be intrinsically built in and not bolted on. There’s no doubt that publishing a transmedia fiction book will need meticulous planning, genre awareness and an ear-to-the-ground for audience behaviours. No reader wants to feel like they’re being sold to. As consumers we are hardened to embedded logos and brand names in magazines and movies, but reading is an extremely personal activity and to begin carelessly placing ‘gimmicks’ within a novel takes something from it. Here we are – back to strategy!

      Transmedia Producers will be the new ‘gatekeepers’ in the same way that publishers will be. Publishers are exposed to potentially fabulous storyworlds on a daily basis and if writers can begin to think transmedially without it being gimmicky, i.e., so that it is relevant to the story and the platform, then transmedia publishing can begin to lift off.

      Not every storyworld will fit as a transmedia novel but as accessibility opens doors and presents new options, so these transmedia elements will bring new readers and modes of fragmentation. For me, transmedia opens the gates for enhanced experiences, deeper levels of immersion and a host of options for those lean-back and lean-forward moments. In a nutshell, to receive your stories in the way that you want them!

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