2012-2010=2

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I decided to read the "Platforming Books" article by Craig Mod for our "read something from the feed aggregator" assignment and it's so long and contains so many different ideas that I really don't know where to begin, but to ask myself "How did Dr. Blakesley get involved in digital publishing?"

For some reason, it made sense in my mind that he'd always been doing this, possibly because he's so adept at navigating InDesign and his iPad and Dropbox, mostly because whenever I hear him talk about Parlor Press he's always referring to digital publishing. He's such an established individual that I assumed his publishing company was established as well.

We've been reading articles about e-books and the like for weeks now and I now have a fantastic reference book in my head (no e-book needed) of all the dates that led to digital publishing becoming a big enough thing that we were able to offer a class on it at Clemson. Somewhere in there, though, I failed to make the connection that iPads and Kindles only came out in 2010, which means that neither Dr. Blakesley nor the huge magazine and publishing companies have been doing this very long. Two years tops. I came into this class thinking I was super behind in terms of technological savvy (and probably still am) but I estimated that I was behind somewhere in the range of 6-8 years. I'm still probably several years away from getting an e-reader of any sort, but I now realize I'm only two years behind in learning about what all they're capable of doing. Knowing that is a relief and an interesting thinking point, because if iPads and Kindles were only released two years ago, then this class that we're in right now is really on the forefront of the "classes on e-publishing" wave. We're ahead of the game.

That said, reading the "Platforming Books" article makes me think that this game is being played in too big of a ballpark. The people behind the Art Space Tokyo book published the thing on every platform imaginable. And I mean every platform imaginable. They really wanted their book to be accessible in every way, through every medium. In addition to making a copy for every kind of digital device that you can read stuff off of, they published physical copies as well, at the expense of a lot of time and effort (for something that you can apparently read online for free?). Craig Mod even admits that converting the Art Space Tokyo text to all those different formats was no simple task. To abbreviate his full response, here's the most telling line: "It’s incredibly detailed and, quite frankly, petrifying."

If it's so petrifying and if I'm correct in understanding that you offer it online for free, then why bother? I don't mean you, Craig Mod, should forget the whole notion of e-publishing. But scaling back might be a good idea. This kind of technology (I just realized) has only been out for a little over two years. You don't have to conquer the digital publishing world all at once.

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Will's picture

Every Format Ever

Yes, there is an interesting balance between offering a product and creating a demand for a product. Think about Disney, they put a movie in the Vault so you have to buy the movie now or you won't be able to get it for another decade. It is much easier to transfer (legally and illegally) electronic versions of anything over long distances and to many different unique users. I think the hope is that many people will hear about the book and some will buy it and some will find it for free. Also, if they like the book, they can come back and buy the next one. It will be interesting to see how this balance continues to develop as ebooks become more popular and viable as a medium.