How does our digital garden grow? #FutureChat recap

Image - iStockphoto: Showcake
Image – iStockphoto: Showcake

Ask The FutureBook community what’s powering digital in publishing today and — of course — you get some who want to say, basically, “what digital?” And after our weekly #FutureChat session Friday, Michigan-based writer (and self-styled “Daring Novelist”) Camille LaGuire took to her blog to follow up with some commentary to the effect that, if anything, publishing is trying too hard to tech-up, while all readers want from it is the content. InThoughts on innovation and publishing from #FutureChat, she writes, emphases hers:

What modern, up-to-date consumers need from publishers is flexibility. We need to be able to consume our content in whatever way we currently like best. And more importantly, we need to be able to consume it in whatever way we will like best next week. Because that will be different. So when it comes to delivering content digitally,simple is better. No fancy formatting (don’t define the fonts and layout — let the reader choose their own defaults) interactivity via links only. The idea is that content creators should focus on content, and let the delivery be handled by the forms people are using.

We had based our #FutureChat on my Bookseller colleague Joshua Farrington’s report on early returns from The FutureBook Digital Census, full results of which will be revealed at The FutureBook Conference, #FutureBook14, on 14th November. As Farrington wrote in his article:

So far more than 1,000 respondents have completed the survey about the digital book industry, with close to 60% indicating that plain vanilla e-books are still leading the transition.

LaGuire saw this as representative of a misguided assumption on the part of publishing people that they need to do more than simply stand their content on existing technologically enabled platforms:

This week, we were discussing the fact that ebooks were still basically plain “vanilla” ebooks — just linear text. And yes, basically the same format as oral storytelling. It was noted that attempts to innovate — particularly with interactive books — have failed to catch fire. Some people see this as a sign that the reading public is behind the curve. I see it as the opposite: technology has so far bypassed the publishing industry [and] that even the general public, and laggards, are ahead of the publishing industry. Publishing’s most bleeding edge thinkers are, thus, coming up with ideas that suit the technology and world of decades ago.


By Porter Ander­son | @Porter_Anderson

The FutureBook: #FutureChat recap: How does our digital garden grow?

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