Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Books Unbound

From the Orange County Register, "Word for Word" February 18th, 2007:

UC Irvine professor Ramesh Jain has spent years studying what he calls "organic books," which change and evolve online.

"At one time, books were static objects, bound and frozen in time," Jain said. "Now an organic book is a living document."

In the future, Jain said people will be able to view electronic books in their own preferred formats and interact with them in a way impossible with a printed text.

At DPPstore, we are seeing digital reading change the way people read right now, not just in the imagined future. Digital publishing is creating the opportunity for authors and readers to choose new ways to write and to read. Authors have greater access to their audience, and they can write work of any length or brevity and still have a simple means of distributing that work to their readers. Readers in turn, have greater choice of what to read, as blogs, community groups, and online forums turn the experience of reading into a group, rather than an individual activity.

Some examples of the evolution of the book within the DPPstore community:

Coming soon to the DPPstore is an eBook that will allow the reader to choose their path through the story, much like the “choose your adventure” books that I read as a kid. Ross Buzzell’s, “X=Conspiracy,” is a Sci-Fi tale full of twists giving the reader the opportunity to participate in uncovering the story by making choices to shape the eventual outcome.

Another exciting development for digital reading is one innovative reading system in development (currently available in Beta). OSoft's dotReader will soon incorporate a feature that will allow public sharing of reader markup – or notes, so you can comment on the book you are reading and share your insights with all of the other people reading that book, and read their remarks as well. This is one more thrust in the direction of creating books as living organisms - subject to evolution, just as we all are.

Digital publishing and distribution also allows for infinite repackaging of material to best suit the diverse needs and wants of readers. For example, C.A. Scott's Racing History is available by the episode, for $4.95 each or by the volume for $24.95 (*note - our authors and publishers set their own pricing models). We could even serve a book by the page for pennies a page if authors chose to sell their work that way. Since there are minimal costs for production and distribution within the digital model, producing alternate cuts of a given book would be almost trivial - giving readers the choice of how to buy and how to read.

eBooks are currently opening up worlds of opportunity to increase the diversity of available reading material and opening wide access to the reading public for authors who have had limited exposure in the past. Authors can reach out from their laptop in their living room and reach readers all over the world! The future of the book is unfolding now.

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