I am continuing to build on a summary of Baldur Bjarnason's call to "make eBooks worth it". Last week, I looked at "new modes of reading". In this post, I'd like to consider what Bjarnason calls a "wealth of new tools for reading and writing that are impossible in print."
Yesterday and today, I'm listening to a range of presentations offered at Books in Browsers, the San Francisco event created by Peter Brantley and jointly planned by Brantley and Kat Meyer. A range of speakers have touched upon the kinds of tools that might extend what we currently do in print. The presenters include:
- Jason Merkoski (BookGenie451) "Books (and readers) in browsers"
- Baldur Bjarnason (Unbound), "Interactivity is what you do"
- Adam Hyde (Booksprints), "The death of the reader"
- Anna von Veh (Say Books), "Beyond the text: Writing undercover on the web"
- Mandy Brown (Editorially), "Writing and editing in the browser"
- Kate Pullinger (Bath Spa University), "Landing gear: A writer, a novel, a publisher, an API"
- Kathi Fletcher (Shuttleworth Foundation), "Textbooks in browsers: An editor for creating, adapting and sharing"
Bjarnason and von Veh touched upon an aspect of content creation and feedback that is increasingly supported in non-print environments: collaboration. Their talks, coupled with ones given by Peter Armstrong (Leanpub) and James Bridle (Booktwo), led me to ask what we need to do as an industry to grow and support a collaborative infrastructure.
In a larger-group setting, that can be a hard question to ask and answer. It does seem clear that the tools are on their way, if they are not here already. But collaboration will also require new skills and processes, as well as different philosophical and legal environments.
Developing those skills, processes and environments is an investment, one that might be made if we can divine a payoff. My filter of the moment is simple: can collaborative approaches help grow the size of the pie for reading? If so, I think we'll find a way to make those approaches a reality.