Digital books are already here

Amazon Kindle ebook reader screen-saverThe last few years or so has seen plenty of talk in publishing circles to the effect that the era of the digital book is imminent, but no one seems willing to accept that it’s already here.

The folk at Pan Macmillan’s Digitalist blog, however, have decided that the digital fiction future has already arrived, and that it’s time for publishers to stop sitting on their thumbs over electronic content delivery:

Beyond even games we already have the outlines of digital fiction. Projects like Inanimate Alice, the story games and ARGs, narrativised blogs and twittered fiction. All the tools and standards are now roughly in place. A wave of innovation has most likely come to a close as the “social media boom” hits the skids. We have been innovation addicts, slavishly jumping on each new trend, application and concept, moving without thinking. The dust is now settling and the landscape for digital fiction and digital books is clear.

To recap, digital books/fiction looks like this:

  • ebooks and ebook derivatives
  • “writerly” computer games
  • stories told used existing forms of social media (blogs etc)

They close with a right hook to the jaw:

Let’s not wait for the future anymore; it arrived in about 2006.

Zing! Perhaps the current tough times will be the eye of the needle that the camel of publishing has to slim down and wise up to pass through… I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. [image by tvol]

3 thoughts on “Digital books are already here”

  1. It’s here already, but big publishers aren’t embracing it because they can’t charge the margins they charge for paper books (or at least be able to justify it). It’ll happen eventually for economic reasons, but big houses will be dragged kicking and screaming.

  2. What we really need is a sub $100 ereader about the size of a trade paperback. So far, the only thing that comes close is one I just read about (sorry can’t remember the name) for $260. The Kindle is around $350. If you want a networked ereader, make the feature an add-on for say $50.

    I find it hard to believe that no one has come up with one. Why not offer a freebie for a two year subscription at $15-$25 per month – for two books? I’d jump at it. Where’s Fictionwise?

    Ebooks will continue to find slow growth until someone comes up with a cheap reader, and publishers acknowledge that most people won’t pay the same price for an ebook as they paid for the print version.

    Hope springs eternal.

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