The Amazon Android Tablet I'd Buy
Tools of Change Bologna

Where's Our Industry's GarageBand?

If you own an iPad you've absolutely got to purchase the GarageBand app.  It's the best $4.99 you'll spend this week.  I don't care if you've never played a musical instrument in your life.  You need this app.

Why am I so fascinated by GarageBand?  FIrst off, it's a blast to play with.  You'll be amazed at how good your creations sound and how far your talents can take you even if you can't tell a quarter note from a half note.  Next, I'm finding it to be an incredibly inspiring experience.

Think about how hard it's been over the years to compose music, even something simple.  In the pre-computer days you had to write it all down on blank sheet music.  Composers painstakingly wrote every note for every instrument.  Now a tool like GarageBand not only lets you record the virtual instruments you play on-screen but it also provides an enormous amount of guidance, helping you sound a lot better than you really are.

What I love most about GarageBand is that it encourages experimentation and discovery.  How will that rock guitar sound with this drumbeat?  What if I overlay this bass line with that series of chords?

Now put this in terms of authoring tools.  Most ebooks you read today began life as a manuscript written in a word processor.  Sure, we're starting to add bits of video and audio now that mobile devices (including tablets) are quickly gaining popularity.  But I feel like our authoring tools in general are still stuck in the stone age.  For the most part, we're stuck in place using the existing tools, most of which haven't evolved much in the past 10-15 years, while trying to create something richer and more interesting.

What if we had a content authoring platform as elegant and engaging as GarageBand?  Experienced authors would find new ways to tell their stories, share their how-to knowledge, etc.  But one of the great things about GarageBand is that it's a great enabler for non-musicians.  What about all those people out there who have never written their story, shared their knowledge, etc.?  Would a new, powerful authoring platform like this encourage them to explore, experiment and come up with new types of content than we ever imagined before?  I think so.


Aaron Pressman

I'd happily settle for just a Wordpress of ebook or e-magazine publishing

Kathy Sierra

This might be the best post I have seen on authoring/publishing. Ever.

Not only do I agree enthusiastically, but I think it is THE most important question in the Future of Publishing. I was somewhat disappointed that the balance of discussions at TOC is still so heavily-focused on production and delivery from the publisher perspective (and some on What The Reader Wants), when the authoring experience is the place most in need of a massive redesign, and with the greatest potential to make a difference.

Your comparison between GarageBand is an excellent one. And I remember attending heated discussions at UCLA entertainment studies (when I taught there in the mid 90's) when people were telling us why there could never be a program for making "music" the way there were so many graphical apps for non-artists.

I do not know if you saw mh TOC talk, Joe, but at the end I have a couple of ridiculous slides asking what if the authoring experience could be something that was "life-affirming" or like going to a spa ;).

If you ever want to work on this, seriously, I am with you!


I could not agree with you more! For years I've been asking why there is not more support for independents in the literary scene. We've reached a point in film and music where indies are given as much (if not more!) respect than mainstream releases - why not with novels?

Speaking of which... (nervously clears throat)... I'm a Toronto based writer who is releasing my self-published book tomorrow! I make all my books by hand, and I've been blogging about the entire production process.

Please check out and support a fellow who is, in his own weird way, trying to build a literary garage band!

Ed Renehan

Concur completely. You are spot-on.

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