To test out the concept of a story and perhaps to grease the skids for a motion picture release, Amazon is taking an agile publishing approach.
Amazon’s original content division Amazon Studios is publishing Blackburn Burrow, a digital-only comic set in a small Appalachian town overrun by evil powers during the Civil War, to see how audiences react to the story. The comic is based on a screenplay that Amazon is considering making into a movie.
The comic will be available for free through the Kindle store, AmazonStudios.com and digital comic site Graphicly, among others.
“Beyond entertaining lots of comic fans, we see value in digital comics as a new way to test screenplays and learn more about fan engagement,” said Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios in a statement.
The statement went on to say that the public will be able to provide feedback to Amazon Studios as story in the episodic comic unfolds.
Amazon is taking an approach adopted by some cutting edge book publishers. Naperville, Ill.-based Sourcebooks has been a leader in what has come to be known as agile publishing: sharing the process of content creation with an audience to gain insights that will help shape the final product as well as create an audience base for an eventual release.
Sourcebooks is currently engaging in an agile publishing project with its upcoming release Entering the Shift Age by futurist David Houle. In early August, Sourcebooks made the first part of the book available to the public.
Scholastic, the large children’s and young adult book publisher and distributor, has also dabbled in agile publishing with its transmedia projects 39 Clues and Infinity Ring. For the former, which has been a hit for four years with 15 million copies of the books in print and 2 million users on its website, the Scholastic editorial team monitors reactions to characters and plot-lines on the website and uses that information to help develop future pieces of content. For the latter, which was release in Sept. 2012, the name of the series itself was chosen by reader votes.