Web-Hooked EBooks

According to Hugh McGuire the future of book publishing looks more like the internet than print books or even ebooks. Web-connected digital books are inevitable, and the line will vanishing between books and the Internet. Today’s savvy publishers will be tomorrow’s ebook API providers:

E-books to date have mostly been approached as digital versions of print books to be read on a variety of digital devices, with a few bells and whistles–like video… Thinking of e-books as just another way to consume a book lets the publishing business ignore the terror of a totally unknown business landscape… While you can list advantages and disadvantages of print books vs. e-books, these are all asides compared with the kind of advantages that we have come to expect of digital information properly hooked into the Internet…

Let books live properly within the Internet, along with websites, databases, blogs, Twitter, map systems, and applications… the foundation is there for the move. If you are looking at publishing with any kind of long-term business horizon, this is where you should be looking…

We are a long, long way from publishers thinking of themselves as API providers, or as the Application Programming Interface for the books they publish. But we’ve seen countless times that value grows when data is opened up (sometimes selectively) to the world. That’s really what the Internet is for and that is where book publishing is going, eventually…

The current world of e-books is a transition to a digitally connected book publishing ecosystem that won’t look anything like the book world we live in now. (Forbes.com)

I don’t need any convincing, but I found McGuire’s article straightforward and compelling. This isn’t rocket science, folks. It’s open source storytelling! And it’s one of the most exciting application of this global rhizome we call the World Wide Web. Like McGuire, I still can’t envision what the commercial underpinnings for this future of publishing looks like, I am confident that entrepreneurial minds all over the world are already scheming up efficient, reliable methods for monetizing web-enabled ebooks. Copyright issues will become increasingly complicated, but where there’s a will (and a market) there’s a way. And I’m thrilled to be able to participate!

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