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Print-to-eBook Ports Won't Cut It

No_sign_2And finally, #4 from this list of paradigm shifts from an earlier post...

It makes sense when you think about how we got to the current state of the ebook market.  Everyone took their print books and quickly converted them to PDFs, Mobi and other ebook formats.  In some cases, hyperlinks were added to at least give the product more of a dynamic feel.

Here's to hoping that one day in the not too distant future we'll look back at the current state and have a good laugh.  I won't go off on another rant about layered content but I definitely feel it's a model we need to strive for.  It requires an entirely different mindset during the writing and editing stages but the reader usage benefits would be enormous.

In the mean time, there's nothing wrong with continued print-to-ebook ports, but I'd like to think that as Amazon's Kindle evolves we'll be working hard to evolve the content model that feeds it.


L.L. Barkat

So, tell me, what implications might this have for me as an author? (Or, what would it mean for your authors, if that's a question that works better for you?) The layered content thing, I mean. And do you think that some authors are better suited to this kind of situation?

Btw, I thought to come back here today because I started reading New Rules of Marketing, and I noticed it's a Wiley book. Just wanted to say I'm looking forward to culling some info for a presentation I'm doing at a writer's conference!

Joe Wikert

Hi Laura. Great questions! I think it will force all of us, not just authors, to think differently about how we construct the finished product. From an author's point of view it means you'd need to think more in more modular terms, particularly if we're talking about a how-to or reference guide. Novels are different but they lend themselves to other types of layered content (e.g., hooks to more details about characters, side-stories, etc.)

Tools have to change too. Word processors like Microsoft Word are designed for the flat writing world that exists today. Layering adds dimensions though and the writing/editing tools would need to evolve with the content.

The editor takes on a different role too. They need to think about how to apply more layering techniques to the content to make the product even more usable by the reader. Perhaps the author didn't modularize things enough or didn't provide all the various connections throughout; the editor would need to step in and help out in those cases.

Taking this a step further, imagine a world where the content is malleable and readers can even help shape it after "publication". Again, this won't work for all types of content but think about the improvements that could be made to those how-to/reference guides when thousands of real-world users have helped shape the content based on their own experiences...

L.L. Barkat

Actually, I could see fan fiction perhaps playing a part in the layered content.

In a way, this is extremely exciting for those of us who have perfected The Art of the Tangent. :)

Michael Josefowicz

Reminds me that Guttenberg focused his energy trying to make hot type look like the real deal at the time - hand lettering.

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