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Monday, October 22, 2012

The Shifting Landscape of Publishing

Center for Digital Media
Friday and Saturday I was at Vancouver O'Reilly's Mini TOC (Tools of Change for Publishing) at the brand new Center for Digital Media. My brain is full of new ideas. It was exhilarating to be a room with smart, visionary, and passionate people. There were speakers from the Vancouver area as well as speakers who have frequented the O’Reilly TOC in New York program.
Friday offered workshops in two streams: the "Tech Workshop" and the "Secrets to Ebook Success" day-long workshops. Saturday offered presentations followed by discussions that involved everyone in attendance.
So what were the themes? I heard a lot of discussion about discoverability, curated content, and interactive books.
The main thing I came away with an author was that electronic publishing is in its infancy. Tylor Sherman of Denim & Steel talked about how HTML5 separates content from design and I think this is the key concept that applies to publishing.
Most people seemed to feel that electronic publishing is not going to replace print but instead it will evolve into something different and become a companion to print. We need to remember that we are authors and thus, creators of content. The book, the blog, the article, the app – those are just containers for the content. Right now the technology is driving the creation and it should be the other way around. Just as Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence by Nick Bantock pushed the boundaries of print; there will be authors who create content for interactive publications and drive the technology creators to create support their ideas.
Peter Cocking, a Vancouver-based graphic designer and design teacher, talked about keeping the audience in the forefront. If you start adding interactive elements to your book just because you can are you taking away from the reading experience? Should you make a movie instead? There are places where interactive content adds value and there are instances where it detracts. A cook book is great example of where an instructional video can enhance the usability for the reader. A coffee table book delivered electronically loses the design and the smell and the experience. To quote Peter Cocking even gift giving is altered when you give ebooks "I bought you some pixels." "Oh, you really shouldn't have."
There were many other great discussions at Vancouver’s Mini-TOC but I will save those for another post and leave you with a question. Is an interactive book still a book or is it something else?


  1. I think you're right -- all of these containers will be companions to each other. It doesn't have to be either/or. It can be "in addition to."

  2. Thanks Devon for dropping by. I believe strongly that we need to get away from the either/or thinking and just focus on the best container for our content; what does our reader need?


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