A digital manifesto

Last summer, Baldur Bjarnason posted a series of observations about digital reading, culminating in a call to "Make eBooks worth it". He explains: 

Of course ebooks as they currently exist are fine for many people. But those who assume that this is acceptable are also assuming a stable media industry. In entering the digital arena books (e- or not) are brought into direct competition with not only other time wasters (games, video, etc.) but other forms of reading, namely the web and apps.

If the ebook ecosystem cannot support a diversity of content and interfaces, the web and apps will step in to fill the gaps.

To address the gaps, Bjarnason writes his own "digital manifesto", calling for (presented verbatim):

  • A diversity of new modes of reading.
  • A wealth of new tools for reading and writing that are impossible in print.
  • The ability to enable new modes of learning and skills development (just adding interactive quizzes is a massive bankruptcy of imagination).
  • Democratised tools of publishing. It’s still too difficult to create good looking ebooks and distribute them widely.
  • A more peer-like, less hierarchical, relationship between the reader and writer.
  • A more symmetrical relationship between reading and writing. Reading, annotations, quotes and more should feed directly into writing systems.
  • A greater variety of models for how we extract value from writing, from gift-giving (pay-what-you-want) to subscription to dynamic pricing (like automatically increasing or decreasing prices the more people buy to create either scarcity or abundance, depending on what you want).

This is a great list, one that I'd like to return in weekly installments through the balance of 2013 – before the web and apps step in to fill the gaps.

Brian O'Leary

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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