ENTRIES TAGGED "ReadSocial"
They all contribute to the personal experience of the shared space
Here’s something about the user experience of online communities that you’ve probably never considered: everyone in an online community is having a unique, individualized experience, even though they’re all doing it together. Think about that for a second. Your activity feed is not my activity feed, it has different places, people, and pages appearing in it. Some of the posts in your feed may also appear for me, depending on our collective preferences. But most of the time I’ll only see a small portion of the things you see, and then share those with my own subset of friends. It’s like riding the subway. It’s a personal experience in a shared space: a million small interactions that can be meaningful, or totally forgettable.
Today's closed models will give way to tomorrow's open platforms
If I had to summarize the future of publishing in just one word, I’d say “open.” We’re living in a very closed publishing world today. Retailers use tools like digital rights management (DRM) to lock content, and DRM also tends to lock customers into a platform. Content itself is still largely developed in a closed model, with authors writing on their word processor of choice and editors typically not seeing the content until it’s almost complete. Then we have all the platforms that are closed from one another; have you ever tried reading a mobi ﬁle from Amazon in an EPUB reader, for example?
Given these examples of our closed industry, why do I think the future will be different? It has to do with some of the early indicators I’m seeing through start-ups and other trends. My TOC colleagues and I are in the enviable position of getting to cross paths with some of the most forward-thinking people in our industry. We share many of these encounters via our website as well as at our in-person events. I’d like to share some of the more interesting ones that are currently on my radar, including a few featured at TOC Frankfurt last week.
The serial publishing social opportunity is huge, but not if it's done exclusively
The Kindle Serials program was one of the more interesting aspects of Amazon’s big press event a couple of weeks ago. We’ve done a few serial publishing experiments at O’Reilly (e.g., Every Book Is a Startup and Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto) and we’ve confirmed that this approach can help authors and publishers connect with readers more than they might through a traditional book.
I also think a serial publishing model could be just what it takes to bring more of a social element to reading. Since the book comes out in segments customers will be reading it at the same time. Depending on how much time passes between installments there will be plenty of opportunities for readers to talk about the story so far and speculate on what will happen next. Amazon is well positioned to capture that conversation as they note at the end of the Serials description:
…and discuss episodes with other readers in the Kindle forums.
This works best during the writing/installment phase since synchronous reading across the entire audience pretty much ends once the whole work is available. It’s like weekly TV shows. There’s a nice rhythm where the audience shares laughs from a comedy or speculates what will happen next in a drama. Serial publishing can bring that same phenomenon to ebooks.
What I don’t like about this model though is the content exclusivity aspect of it. As Laura Hazard Owen notes in The serious business of Kindle Serials, some authors are rejecting Amazon’s exclusivity requirement. Good for them. The last thing we need is to see is even higher walls around the Kindle platform.
The Kindle Remorse article I wrote earlier talked about how consumers probably don’t even realize they’re gradually locking themselves into a platform. That’s because Kindle Serials is just the next brick in Amazon’s walled garden.
The social engagement needs to extend much further than any one retailer’s platform. That’s why a service like ReadSocial has always been so appealing to me; it’s open and offered through an API that any content provider can leverage.
Amazon feels it’s in their best interest to create a closed model that also features exclusive content. That’s why I was disappointed (but not surprised) when they forced Findings to shut down their Kindle Highlights sharing feature. I’m hoping that more authors will take the same stance that Byliner did and say no to Amazon’s exclusivity requirements for Kindle Serials. We need more open digital content platforms and fewer closed, closely-guarded ones.