Everyone in the publishing industry is accustomed to hearing the warning that other books aren’t their only competition, right?
You know the drill: Video, television, gaming, music, everything including yoga classes and financial seminars are now arrayed as competition to reading.
And this is no backyard boxing match, there’s obvious truth to these observations. Digital giveth and digital just keeps giving.
How many apps can dance on the screen of a smartphone?
Consider several specific cases now coming to light:
(1) Angry Birds maker Rovio has announced it’s landing in the YA sector next, with a “high action pirate adventure with a female twist,” a series called Storm Sisters. Our Charlotte Eyre at The Bookseller has the story, And when Bookseller editor Philip Jones marked the launch of Rovio’s books division — 29th November 2011 — with a Q&A, book-publishing v.p. Sanna Lukander told him, “We have a very close connection with our fans and we are quite anxious to bring the most delightful books to their attention locally.”
(2) At Politico, Ben Schreckinger writes, Why are so many 2016 hopefuls writing e-books? These would be “likely presidential contenders” in the States, people who would love to have Lukander’s “very close connection withour fans.” They’ve decided, as Schreckinger puts it, “that if they can’t quite ditch the genre” of the traditional pre-presidential campaign book, “they can wrap it in a shiny new digital package.” He goes on:
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush and outgoing Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley are steering away from the printed word and releasing their writings first in digital formats.
(3) At Newsweek Europe, we learn from Sheila Bounford this week here at The FutureBook in Digital publishing at the speed of news: Sheila Bounford on Newsweek Insights, that the news magazine is following along in the pattern of many media outlets, with a smartly — and quickly — produced series of news-supplemental ebooks, called Newsweek Insights, written by correspondents who are handling major stories.
Those three examples — a trio of drops in the “everybody into the pool!” ebook rush — illustrate parts of the electronically engaged media landscape not only competing with reading but actually piling on, by creating their own digital reading properties.
And that’s a subtle step beyond merely putting a reader into the position of reading vs. doing some other digitally enticing thing; it’s the digitally enticing thing arriving as reading, the Angry Birds alighting on the ebook shelf, a few red feathers floating in the air next to the Pigs’ Egg Recipe Book.
This must be how it feels to be a film studio watching Amazon collect Golden Globes for the TV series Transparent, only to learn that Seattle this year will begin production of up to a dozen, “original, prestige movies each year” for theatrical release followed by relatively quick Prime Instant Video availability.
Or maybe it’s like being a digital textbook maker and learning that, as Lisa Campbell reports at The Bookseller, “Amazon has launched Kindle Textbook Creator in the US, allowing academics to turn their textbooks into digital editions.”
Then again, maybe it’s what independent authors deal with every day. It’s uncertain how clearly some of our writers actually understand the rising fury of competition on their main medium, but the ebook is becoming — despite all those claims of a print resurgence, as Jones reminds us in his FutureBook column this week — the vehicle of choice.
Maybe it’s not for nothing that Canada’s Competition Bureau is investigating alleged anti-competitive ebook pricing among Penguin, Kobo, and Indigo (with clarifications that no conclusions of wrongdoing have been reached).
Jones’ FutureBook column summation is helpful here:
The narrative might be how digital has helped revive and reinvent print, rather than the other way round.
The shift to tablet reading, alongside the rise of subscription services, will likely change the narrative again. As Kindle’s Russ Grandinetti suggested at Digital Book World last week, stability is not on the menu. The good news seems to be that the book business is better at absorbing the shocks, than we once thought.
By Porter Anderson
The FutureBook: Authors Alighted – Angry Birds and our new Indie Preview
Read the full post at: TheBookseller.com/futurebook