What She Said

Susan Ruszala over at Follow the Reader has spoken what I have been thinking lately about digital books.

…but I’m also not satisfied with the ebook being an exact replica of the printed book. Even the page concept—you know what I’d like to see? Something that calculates how much longer, at my current pace, I have before finishing the book. Or, at the end, suggestions for how I can share my thoughts with other folks who have read the book, or other books I might download next.

The content should match the medium. If you are producing a book for print, you better make the best looking, traditional text that you can.  Great cover, good blurb, excellent typesetting and all that jazz.  But if you are offering it as a digital book, heed the words above.  The needs of a digital book reader are far different from a paper book reader.  Fonts are different, presentation is different and interactivity is important, especially if the book is read on a connected device or computer.

I plan on releasing my new novel, Null_Pointer on Kindle this Summer and believe me, it will not be the same experience as the paperback version.  First of all, it will be cheaper.  Second of all, it will have links and extra content.  I will also be making the book available in free digital formats along with a slew of new content including a Writer’s Edition that will have extensive commentary on how the book was written.

Not to mention the community based web portal for the novel: http://nullpointer.ning.com, where you can interact with the author and other readers.  Again, matching the content to the medium.

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2 thoughts on “What She Said”

  1. Interesting insight there Steve, I had never thought about how the brain handles a printed book. I really hope the new mediums don’t become gimmicky like that. I think publishers will eventually come around and things will pan out in the end, but it will take time.

    I do think that small and indie presses can have a roll to play in helping steer the technology and the main stream presses into the future. It’s often much easier to try new things when you are a small entity. Once the new things are tested, the larger publishers will pick up on what appears to work.

    I don’t think the paper book will ever completely go away (Man, I hope not!), but I think how we look at the written word will eventually be more digital than physical.

  2. There’s a bunch of things that need to be added that you intuitively (yeah, right, I have a bunch of thoughts on that) get from a printed book that are lacking on an e-reader. That calculation, your brain does it automatically by how many pages are in your right hand compared to how many are in your left hand. There’s the visual, even with e-paper you interact with it differently than with ink on paper. You brain conceives of the text in a different format. But instead of doing these things, more than likely publishers will start adding gimmicks like “adventures you create yourself” or “multi-media (hey, there’s a word I haven’t heard for a long time) on the page” or (dare I say it) “color.”

    Unfortunately it’ll take a while before someone in marketing actually listens to a designer that knows their stuff and can explain how printed books are actually quite sophisticated pieces of kit. How, when you put the text on a screen, you lose many subtle clues about the text that most people don’t even consciously think about with the book.

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