Friday, May 22, 2009

New Technology and the Future of Publishing

Since the internet exploded in the 90s, many facets of our lives have changed, from how we find information to how we shop. Writers have noticed the shift in the publishing industry, especially in the last ten years. As technology advances, and as the Web's instant-everything extinguishes the concept of convenience, we find ourselves on the cutting edge of entertainment and information exchange. We had ebooks, either downloaded or burned to CD and shipped to us. Then we saw the rise of Print on Demand, which made it possible to order a single book that would be printed, bound, and shipped without wasting further paper or ink resources. Epublishers became more savvy, ebook readers became acceptable.

Somewhere along the way, we started seeing mobile phone books, stories delivered straight to mobile phones for consumption anywhere, anytime.

What's next?

How about podcast novels? Podcast novels are serialized books in audible form. Much like downloading an audiobook to your iPod, podcast novels allow authors to self-publish their work and make it accessible anywhere.

I first learned about podcast novels from author Kimi Alexandre, whose podcast novel Guardians is set to release the chapter one podcast today. Take a listen to the promo and see what you think:

We've already seen traditional publishers gather around the ebook bandwagon, and though it took a few years of kicking tires and inspecting the cargo area, it seems they're happy enough to jump on board and take the bandwagon for a spin. Will serial podcast novels be the next technology they decide to pursue? It wouldn't be a great departure from the audio books they already publish, but does their business model allow them to go in this direction?

Clearly, the open-ended future rights clauses becoming more common in boilerplate contracts means the publishers are prepared to produce books in more formats and deliver in less traditional ways. Whether they choose to pursue all the avenues opening with each new jump in technology, whether they choose to alter their antiquated business model and step into the twenty-first century, it's an exciting time in our industry.


L. Diane Wolfe said...

And to think twenty years ago, our only access to books was through traditional means such as bookstores!

L. Diane Wolfe

Audra Harders said...

Are we sacrificing the skill of reading for easy and accessible?

Yes, I'm one resistant to change : ) Well, not exactly resistant, but still prefer purchasing bound pages with ink type.

If the wave of the future is ebooks, mobile phone books, and podcasts, I'm all for the medium that requires us to READ.

Personally, I love listening to podcasts as I walk the dog each night, definitely helps me multi task : )

But if turning the printed page into audio sound bytes is the wave of the future, I'd have to say anticipated excitement would not be my choice of reaction.

BUT, KL, that's one perspective of a generation that has had to grudgingly adapt to voice and text messaging, too.

Don't give up on us. We'll come around : )

KL Grady said...

Yes, it's amazing how far we've wandered from the libraries and bookstores of the past. We've gotten lost along the way a few times, and I'm sure we'll be lost again. In the meantime, traditional books won't die anytime soon. Like Audra (and my mother and grandmother and sister), many folks still prefer a dead tree in hand. ;)

I don't feel any different about podcast books than I do about audiobooks. It's the same thing in my mind, only the accessibility and format (full novel vs serial release) are slightly different. Cell phone books? Eh. I'd have to read one to make a judgment, but my first thought is how tiresome it would be. I hate reading text messages on my tiny screen - I can't imagine scrolling through three screens of words to finish one sentence.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying the ease of my eReader and all the books I can read anytime I want. I'll like it even more when I use it to lug all my books to school next month. ;) There's an overweight luggage charge saved.

Tiffany James said...


I found your post so interesting! It's amazing what's happening these days.

I agree with Audra in that I'll never fully convert! :0) I love holding a book in my hands, and I love to make my faves truly my own by highlighting, underlining and circling words and passages. Sometimes I drive my siblibgs and friends crazy, because they'll ask to borrow a book only to find the margins full of my thoughts, connections and tidbits. :0) What can I say? I'm obsessive about reading and writing!

I do think this is an interesting way to build a platform and an audience as well as do some marketing for yourself.

Thanks for the heads up!

Tiffany James

Donnell said...

Oh my gosh, KL. you do have a way with words... dead tree in hand. I see your point and I admire your technological savviness (sp). Okay, I'm also going to be the dinosaur and talk about eye sight. Staring at a computer screen, text messaging my kids, reeling from all this *learning* when I can pick up a book and prop my feet back and enjoy... those are the advantages to reading I miss.

But, I'm doing it... I'm ready for Kindle and other programs that I can read. But on the phone.... those tiny little screens LOL.

I truly consider this blog and you a blessing. You give us options to consider and conscious choices to make. I know NY is kicking the tires on these new technologies. They better be. Too many consumers are demanding it. Thanks for the thoughtful post!

Donnell said...

KL, one more comment and then back to work. I loved the IPOD. Do you know the expense. The music in the background, the professional narrator? Just curious. The Guardian sounds like an awesome book!

Nancy said...

KL, thank you for the look at yet another new (or new-to-book-application) technology.

I'll also admit to being more in love with holding a book than listening to one or reading one on a Kindle or Sony or other device. Then again, I don't own an electronc reader yet, and I might go bonkers for one.

I never think of a dead tree when I hold a book - I'm holding adventure. And, yes, I hope I'm holding adventure on recycled paper.

I do support publishers getting our work out there in whatever forms the public demands, but it will be a sad day if physical books are no more.

Nancy Haddcok

Kimi said...

Hi guys! I'm so sorry it took me so long to get over here to comment. I hope someone will see the comments since I'm late to the party. I just got back from Balticon where I released Guardians.

First let me took me a while to even accept the concept of writing a podcast novel vs doing it traditionally. There are some very handy benefits though from doing it the way I am. I still have ever intention of putting out a book version once the podcast is over.

As someone who's doing this I'm finding that in some instances you have to write a little differently for audio then you can for print. Because of this there will be a few subtle differences in the print version.

Donnell asked about the cost. (Thanks for the compliment...I hope you continue to enjoy it). Right now...I have very few expenses. I am the narrator and main character. Many of us in the podcasting community help each other so we don't have to pay for other voice actors. We're a little incestuous that way. Plus there is always someone new trying to break into the voice over biz who is more then happy to have it on their resume.

I do occasionally have to pay for music but there are also places you can get free sound effects and background music. Some of the indie artists even give you permission at times if you ask.

My biggest cost was investment. A good microphone, the software to edit the audio, a library of bg music and sound effects. The rest of it is just my time and dedication.

I understand how you guys feel about paper copies and I agree. I love having books to turn the pages off. I don't often like reading e-versions especially pdfs on the computer.

I like the concept of the podcasts because it's a different experience. :)

Feel free to ask me anything you like if you have other questions.

Donnell said...

Kimi, I did see your post yesterday and wanted to give some time to comment. Wow. How's that? Seriously, listening to the professional output you put into Guardians I thought it must have cost mucho dollars. This is the sound equivalent of setting up a reading blog with all the bells and whistles, and yet the end result is amazing. Best selling authors have their work come out in Books on tape on a regular basis. To know that this technology is available for lesser known authors -- I can just see the advantages for the blind, for people on the run, for people who like to combine the exercise routines, and more. Simply amazing. You're not only a great writer, you're an entrepreneur. Well done, Kimi!-

Kimi said...


Wow thank you for the compliment. That means a lot to me! :)

Podcast novels are a great advantage for lesser known authors. You build a brand and a community and when it's said and done you take that to an agent and hand them proof that you can sell. More times then you can count...all those people who downloaded it for free via podcast or pdf...want to support the author and will buy paper copies. I've seen people by 5 paper copies just to support the author. Not that that will always happen...but you get the picture. :)

I am always around to answer questions for anyone who has them about this medium. Just email me.