The End of Book Publishing As We Know It

A few days ago, I watched a video demo of the “SI Tablet” (see video below), a new eBook device developed by Time, Inc. and The Wonderfactory. It demonstrates how a touch screen, portability, and the convergence of text, audio, and video can create unprecedented opportunities for content providers. Frankly, it is the most compelling media device I have seen yet.

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According to the video, Time will launch this device in 2010. As a result, the future is arriving faster than most of us thought—or at least I thought. With the advent of the Apple iPad at hand, the eBook space is going to heat up significantly this next year.

After watching the video several times, I have come to a few tentative conclusions about the future of book publishing. Don’t hold me to this. I may change my mind next month. But for now at least, here is what I see as I peer into the future:

  1. The line between newspapers, magazines, and books is about to become blurred. In the old world of analog (non-digital) publishing, several things differentiated these media from one another:
    • The delivery format—newsprint, glossy paper, or bound books
    • The length of time it took to go from concept to market—daily, weekly, monthly, or several months
    • The number of content contributors involved—one author (or two) or many writers
    • The way the contributors were compensated—royalties, staff salaries, or work-made-for-hire arrangements
    • The financial model—advertising, subscription, or outright purchase

    The SI Tablet and other devices like it will create a new kind of multimedia content that is shaped more by the capabilities of the device and the convergence of technologies than the traditional formats.

  2. Publishers will need to envision multimedia content from the beginning. Once consumers get used to this kind of rich media, they will not be content to read text alone. They certainly won’t pay a premium price for it. They will expect hyperlinks, audio, video, and other multimedia bells and whistles. As a result, content providers will need to envision these elements at the ideation stage, rather than adding them as an afterthought. In this sense, magazine publishers and web content developers will have an advantage. They are already doing this.
  3. Consumer expectations are going to skyrocket. Yes, some die-hard book fans will hang on until the bitter end. But the tastes of the masses are going to shift. I am old enough to remember the transition from black and white television to color. Once it happened, there was no going back. Everyone wanted a color TV. The same thing happened with stereo music, surround sound, and every other media innovation. It is going to get more and more challenging to wow the customer.
  4. The cost of producing digital books will get more expensive. If all publishers are doing is porting text-based content from an analog format to a digital one, they really haven’t added much value other than convenience and portability. In fact, they have arguably reduced their costs, because they don’t have to manufacture or distribute a physical product. But this is not where it’s going to stay. To stay competitive, publishers will need to add audio, video, and other design elements that are going to add to the production cost.
  5. Digital content creation and distribution will become our primary focus. Physical books will become an afterthought. I don’t know when the tipping point will occur, but I believe it will happen in the next few years. You can’t create a media rich experience like the SI Tablet is capable of delivering without thinking about content in an entirely different way. Some people will always want printed books, just as some people enjoy candles today. But we will eventually think of these as “souvenirs” (to quote Tim O’Reilly) or decorative artifacts for our home or office. Most people will consume content digitally.
  6. People will be reading more than ever. This is the really good news, I think. These new technologies promise to create reading experiences (if we can call them that) that are more sensual, more imaginative, and more compelling than simple text alone can provide. I believe people are already reading more than ever. They are simply consuming their information in different ways. This will only accelerate as the devices become more sophisticated. As a result, I expect to see reading increase in the future.

If you prefer business-as-usual, these are scary times. The media landscape is changing dramatically. It’s happened to music, then newspapers and magazines, and now even television and film. To quote Jeff Bezos, “The book publishing industry is perhaps the last bastion of analog technology.” But it’s even happening here.

But I have honestly never been more excited about the future of publishing than I am right now. There will be winners and losers, but these are exciting times. We have unprecedented opportunities as publishers to deliver content that connects with more readers in more powerful ways than ever before. I can’t wait to see what 2010 brings.

Question: What about you? What changes do you think these kinds of devices will have on the publishing industry?
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  • http://twitter.com/adamrshields @adamrshields

    Just not sure I agree that this is the future. There are some books that it would make sense to do something like this. But most books just should tell a good story…if the story is lacking the extra content really won't help much.

    I also just am not sure that the Apple tablet or this or some of the others that are focused on multifunction devices are really going to be all that good for reading. Eink is wonderful for reading. But if LCD or OLED or other screen types are just ok for reading then it is a downgrade.
    My recent post Lowell Snow’s Prayer Guide

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I suppose the line will fall out roughly between fiction and non-fiction. Since we publish mostly non-fiction at Thomas Nelson, it will likely be of more interest to us.

      However, I could even see fiction books profiting from this. We'll see. Ultimately, these are just tools. It's up to the creator to use them—or not.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/PaulSteinbrueck PaulSteinbrueck

        I was thinking the same thing. I don't see a lot of use for multimedia in fiction, but there is great potential in non-fiction.

        I remember reading Francis Chan's book Crazy Love & he's got a video on http://crazylovebook.com that introduces each chapter. How cool would it be of those videos were embedded with the book in an eReader?
        My recent post Funny Video: If Church Online Were “In Person”

        • Patty

          What about an interactive version of any of the Brown books which have quite a few details that it would be visually stimulating to see (the puzzles, symbols, maps) as you are reading? What a hoot that would be!

    • http://www.rootsrain.com Jeff

      As far as I understand from reports about Apple's tablet, it will have an OLED screen and an eInk screen behind that. It's not 100% certain, but Apple doesn't leave huge gaps like that in their product decisions, so I'm thinking it'll happen. Which will mean it's a great device for both computing and reading. (Hopefully.)

    • Esther

      I disagree with this. Case in point: Look at the TV shows that are "hits" now. If you are a hip hop or punk rock star you are instant TV show star. Whether you have talent or not, if it gets hard, just burst out in song.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Yes, I definitely think it will have to be adapted based on the content. It's like being a painter—all these color are available, but you don't have to use them in every painting. Some genre's will be better with richer media; some not.

    Regardless, it is exciting to have the option to create richer media experiences.

  • Juan

    Hi Mike – The Publishers cos that announced to hold the releases of the ebooks versions got it all wrong by trying to hold the prices of the ebook versions. They cannot precent it from happening, it happened at the Movie and Music industries, I am looking forward to buying my first ebook reader, I usually buy 2-3 hard copy books a month, I am excited about what is coming from the ebook standpoint. The puclishers will not have a wait to hold me moving into the ebook version, if they do not have the ebook version then I will knock the door of their closest competitor…

  • Rick

    I agree. My boys read more than I ever did at their ages. The difference is where and how they read (cell phone, website, game console, online game site, etc.). For them it really is a totally different experience. As cheesy as some of the digital content currently is, the recent augmented reality edition of Esquire for example, I think an interactive device like the SI tablet will peak peoples' interests.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I agree. Can you imagine what this space will be like in five years? This is only just the beginning.

    • Drew

      Your kids "read" an online game site? You call that "reading"?

  • http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/shortword/ Randall Short

    Thanks for the post. Very interesting predictions! It's one thing for people making the eBooks to say it. It means a lot more coming from you, I think.

    I'm curious to hear what you and others think about academic publishing. How much do you think your points here will apply?
    My recent post An Online Carnival for Biblical Studies

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I think it totally applies to academic publishing. Imagine a world where students don't have to lug around backpacks full of books. Or where the professor can assemble their own textbooks out of “content components.”

      • http://twitter.com/shortNtweet @shortNtweet

        Yes, I completely agree about that part, especially in the textbook market. Even academic Luddites should welcome anything that gets students to actually engage with the material. Can you imagine inserting comment/discussion threads like this one right into a textbook? There's an idea. All this would encourage students to do more reading, as you say.

        I was thinking more about expectations by other scholars, graduate students, and other readers for multimedia components in scholarly publications. I can see, for instance, the insertion of mini videos throughout a work of the sort that you can find at bigthink.com. I think that even scholars who say that the text alone is enough would, in fact, appreciate and enjoy video overviews, elaborations, even footnotes–essentially mini-lectures–at several points along the way. And I'm sure that there are a lot of other multimedia components an author could add that brings value and not just glitz. I guess one of my questions is whether people will eventually expect dissertation-type writing to come wrapped in a format that would make Ken Burns smile.

  • http://twitter.com/davidteems @davidteems

    I admit I've been reluctant. I love books. I love the smell of a used bookstore, that yellow smell of age. I even remember how to write with a pencil. But, being a musician and an author, the new technologies offer possibilities that are too delicious to ignore. Technology catching up with culture itself. Convergence. Segregation, a thing of the past. Not just literature. Not just music. Nor film. But a real fusion of disparate genetic stuff. A little Ellis Island of technology. Okay, too much caffeine. But it is very cool to dream again. All restraints are coming off.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      That was my reaction. The video ignited something in me that went “Wow! Think of the possibilities!”

  • http://twitter.com/ltbaxter @ltbaxter

    Wow! Amazing video, and I like your analysis Michael. This seems to make it that much more important for Amazon and others to get away from proprietary format (which you also mentioned on a recent post). This video really dims enthusiasm for a Kindle, because when (not if) I buy something like what is shown, I can't be locked out of a significant library I own.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/PaulSteinbrueck PaulSteinbrueck

    Michael, thanks for the post. A few thoughts…

    >>1. The line between newspapers, magazines, and books is about to become blurred.

    Not only that but the line is blurring between these media, TV, and web. If the public comes to expect video with their reading material, then the future of media is partnerships (or mergers) like the one between CNN and SI (TV and print) and those that have been forming between local TV stations, newspapers, & their websites.

    I would think the place media companies like SI would start with functionality like this is on their websites. They already could include in their website all the functionality & multimedia depicted in the demo video except instead of a touch screen people would use their mouse. Why force people to buy a tablet to experience the magazine this way?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Yea, I have thought about that, too. I think there is something appealing—at least to me—about carrying a smaller, thinner, tablet device. I am esepcially eager to see what Apple will offer up. If I could do what the SI Tablet does, plus email, and 90% of what I do on my laptop—now that would be cool.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/PaulSteinbrueck PaulSteinbrueck

        I agree that having a smaller e-reader is appealing for a number of reasons. It seems like the iTunes/iPod model might work best for print as well. Download everything to your computer and then port stuff over to your portable device. Having standards that will allow people to read/experience material on multiple devices and the ability to transfer between devices is huge, IMO.
        My recent post Funny Video: If Church Online Were “In Person”

  • http://twitter.com/cthomasdavis @cthomasdavis

    Mike, how do you think this will affect those of us who are authors? How do we need to think different in this new environment? What kinds of shifts should we make now in order to be successful? Thanks!
    My recent post Ethiopian Cultural Dance

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/MikeHolmes MikeHolmes

      Yeah Mike,

      I would love to hear your thoughts on this question?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I still think that the most important thing will be a compelling story line. That's the good news. If you can come up with that—or, in the case of non-fiction, solve real problems, you will always have a market. However, I think these new technologies will give you a broader palette to create from.

      I think authors will have to ask, what is the best way to get my message across. Text is just one option.

  • http://twitter.com/unicorntreebks @unicorntreebks

    I'm sorry but people wont read more than ever – people will scan more than ever!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Personally, I don't think it's either/or. People will scan more, but I am betting they read more, too.

  • http://benandjacq.tumblr.com Ben of BenandJacq

    The thing that will hold back ebooks in the market is DRM. I won’t buy a book without the assurance that I can read it in 30 years. And there will be a product that I like more than the current readers in 10 years. Companies like amazon are going to have to trust that the number os honest customers outweighsthe crooks.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I agree. I hate DRM. The sooner it goes away the better.

    • http://twitter.com/allie912 @allie912

      I think the days of being assured of anything being the same in 30 years has past. Think of your 8 tracks, your VHS and audio tapes. All replaced with something newer, and better which will be replaced, in turn, by the next generation.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/PaulSteinbrueck PaulSteinbrueck

    BTW, if you want to see a good example of a magazine that's already being published with a lot of the functionality & multimedia depicted in the demo video but on the web rather than on an eReader, check out http://www.catalystleadershipdigital.com
    My recent post Funny Video: If Church Online Were “In Person”

    • David – Germany

      Yes, know this one, but I'm not sure, if it's a good example. have you really read a Catalyst-issue? If I want to read text on the web, I prefer easier to read media, like blogs, if I want to read a magazine I prefer paper and if I want to watch a video on the web, it's clips not really long interviews. Well, just my thoughts.

  • Colleen Coble

    Interesting post, Mike! It doesn't look like something I would buy though. I wouldn't want to read novels with links and stuff in them. I like to become the character when I read a novel. I like to envision what she looks like in my head, to hear her voice there. Having it laid out for me would interrupt the experience. But novel readers are a different breed. :-)

    To tell the truth, if someone sends me a link that has a video in it, I seldom watch it. It takes too much time! I'd much rather just skim the information rather than spend the time getting through a video. I think the younger generation loves the videos though so I can see them spending time doing this. Very cool product! For an article or book that is information driven, I can see it having an impact. It would be a total distraction for novels though. :-(

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I tend to agree. I think the ideal device will have to accommodate both kinds of readers. If you don't want the enhanced version, you ought to be able to read the straight text version.

  • http://it-starts-with-me.blogspot.com PatriciaW

    Major Wow! I'm a HUGE SI fan and would love to have my magazine that way. I can see other magazines in this same type of format. Of course, that begs the question of whether each will require it's own, proprietary device or software. Should be interesting to see how that plays out.

    What's the impact for books? I can see those little video trailers turning into nearly full-fledged movies. But what if you're a reader who doesn't care to have the characters embodied before your eyes? I guess there will be a way to see the "text only" version of a book. Going beyond that, I can see advertisers ponying up to buy space for ads/links to related to content. And certainly video trailers for the "coming soon" books usually included in the back pages.

    Cool!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I think we will see platforms, much like blogging software today. There will be certain common elements, but individual customization of themes.

      I also think that readers will need the choice to read straight text or the enhanced version.

  • http://twitter.com/nmabry @nmabry

    This is exciting and depressing at the same time. I'm a lover of technology, so that aspect of this concept makes me drool. My depression is a fear that when that people will become so expectant of immersive experiences that there is a loss of imagination.

    I got my first ebook reader this week (Kindle2). What I've already begun to love is how it delivers print so effectively. It is very easy on the eyes to read.

    These new devices are going to struggle in early acceptance due to price, battery life, and variety of content. Furthermore, you're now going to have to wear headphones when you read, which is just awkward (presently).

    I don't see these devices really affecting print much more in the immediate sense. It will take a generation of iPhone users to complete the paradigm shift. Maybe by the time my 6yo graduates.

  • http://www.raisetheeup.com/blog Michael Holmes

    Mike, I love the article…but I will say this: the title is misleading. We both know this isn’t “the end of book publishing” but rather a different phase of it. A great phase might I add. It’s not the end of “book publishing” but the end of book publishers that refuse to adapt and change. This is a GREAT OPPORTUNITY for companies (like yours) that see this coming and make the necessary changes to adapt.

    just my thoughts

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Michael. Note that I said “The End of Book Publishing As We Know It.” That last phrase is the key. I still stand by the title.

  • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

    I believe authors are already seeing the shift and bending to it, but don't quite have everything integrated yet. Imagine combining book trailers, blogs, interviews, and film footage that illustrates your point in one medium. We do them in a scattered way now, but this technology allows for it all to be in one place.

    As a fiction writer, though, I do think it's important to allow a reader their imagination. Fiction still needs to have a story world without suggestion. Film and a novel are two different mediums, so giving the reader film clips of the setting would interrupt their creative process.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I agree with that, Mary. It will be interesting to see if there are ways to “enhance” a fiction work without being intrusive. Perhaps something like the annotated versions of Lord of the Rings that provide maps, character backgrounds, etc. Regardless, I still want to be able to use my imagination.

      • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

        Agreed. I do like the idea of maps and other enhancements.

  • Bill

    How does this development parallel other “entertainment/information” media advancements? Your point of “envision multimedia content from beginning” reminds me of what Star Wars did for movie promotion and product tie in. Any thoughts?

    The movie experience has not changed much over the years…you still sit in a theater and watch the movie. It’s the peripheral, behind the scenes, and after-market areas (i.e. action figures, fx budgets, DVDs) that have changed greatly. I personally am not convinced it is going to be totally revolutionary to the book.

  • http://ronlane.wordpress.com Ron

    With all the competition coming to market, I think it is an exciting time for the consumer. Getting Apple involved in anything is a good deal, just look at what they have done with the iPhone.

    I think that more readers will go to electronic devices. I will be as soon as my Nook ships to me (should be in before Christmas).

    I am not sure that these devices will bring in more people that did not read before. There may be some, but I'm not sure that it will be significant in 2010.

    Now you get more and more features attached along with the prices dropping under the $200 mark and I could be wrong.

  • http://anndouglas.typepad.com/blogs/ Ann Douglas

    "Publishers will need to envision multimedia content from the beginning."

    The author should continue to be the one with the creative vision — taking the creative lead — for most book projects. The publisher can then work with the author to introduce the multimedia elements that the author envisions.

    If the multimedia elements are publisher-driven, they could feel at-odds with the author's vision for the book.

    My recent post @anndouglas

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

    The video is so cool. It completely amazes me how quickly technology is advancing.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      So true. This space is moving faster than I thought it would. Wow!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/markclement markclement

    michael, i'm curious to hear your thoughts on how this affects the world of self-publishing and also the future versions of the bible. the possibilities seem endless.
    My recent post The End Of Publishing As We Know It

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/markclement markclement

    michael, i'm curious to hear your thoughts on how this affects the world of self-publishing and also the future versions of the bible. the possibilities seem endless.
    My recent post The End Of Publishing As We Know It

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I think you can see how it will affect the Bible at Logos.com. They have essentially built this already. It is really amazing. The only thing they don't have is a dedicated reader.

      With regard to self-publishing, I am sure the tools will be there for authors as well—just like blogs are today.

  • http://amysorrells.wordpress.com Amy Sorrells

    Thanks for these challenging thoughts. As someone who writes, blogs, and designs, this is the most enticing post I've read about the impending E-book Reformation. Although I'm with Mary DeMuth on how this will impact fiction, I'm encouraged as a non-fiction writer, since my most recent proposal includes many interactive ideas which dovetail right into the aspects you describe. Frankly, I have a hard time imagining my manuscript without interactive capabilities/offerings. These are exciting times, although I fully admit (even cling) to my love for tangible, paper, hard and soft cover books–and I stand by the column I wrote lamenting these changes. I do love candles, after all. Although most of the candles in my home sit next to a lamp. Or on top of a TV cabinet. Or near an electrical outlet of some kind. (((Sigh.)))
    My recent post This week’s column

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  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Peter_P Peter_P

    I saw that video last week and was VERY impressed with it.

    As with anything though, it's all about the application and use of the technology.

    Consumers will buy the devices IF the content being published for it is:

    1) At the right price
    2) Of high enough quality
    3) Using the full range of features of the device.

    Very quickly some industry standards are going to have to be set up. I'm going to want to get the same content and publications as my friends even though we all have different tablet devices.

    If magazines, books etc are published to work specifically on certain devices, the market is going to become fragmented and will not grow as quickly as it should.

    We may get a blu-ray/HD-DVD scenario happening again.
    My recent post Does the Cost of the Gift Matter? – Guest post by Kathy Richards (Katdish)

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  • http://intensedebate.com/people/klreed189 Kyle Reed

    Just like the Music Industry had to adapt to the iPod and MP3's I think publishing has to now adapt to the digital age.

    I am interested to see how Thomas Nelson is going to be adapting and changing.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Me, too! o.0

  • http://leftrightorg.wordpress.com/ Brittany

    Do you have some data to support #6? The information I've seen shows that the % of readers out there is actually decreasing, not increasing (http://www.nationalcommissiononadultliteracy.org/

    You're correct in saying that consumer's expectations for content delivery will shift (e.g. from printed form to digital form) but I would be careful in comparing this shift directly to that which we've seen in television (e.g. black and white to color) and music (e.g. stereos to iPods). Listening to music and watching television do not require that the end user have a learned skill. Reading does.

    Whether the content is delivered via an e-reader, blog, magazine, or printed book, if the % of consumers than can much less will read continues to dwindle we're all in trouble. Unless. Unless, we go about creating more readers in addition to a greater digital experience. The approach will need to be two pronged.

    Like I said, this is just based on the data I've seen. I'd love to know if you're seeing information to the contrary.
    My recent post What’s your problem?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Unfortunately, I don't have a source for that statement. I have seen some research on this but can't put my hands on it. If anyone else knows, I'd love to see it!

      Thanks for your thoughts.

  • http://www.twitter.com/danieldecker Daniel Decker

    Wow, that SI tablet looks amazing. More so than just the integration of multiple types of content (text, dynamic, audio, video, etc) is the interactive nature it appears to hold. To me, that is a major part of what this digital revolution will bring to publishing. Not just the ability to consumer content digitally but the ability to interact with it (the content) and with others (like-minded people) as well as the content provider in unique ways. I’m sure that interactivity will also involve clever advertiser interaction as well, in some mediums. What concerns me most about all this is the flood of unique devices for various content providers. Amazon = Kindle. BN = Nook. SI = Tablet. And others… the consumer is unlikely to buy a unique device for each medium. I’m sure as the technology advances the ability for one consumer device will arise that can bridge the functionality and the content.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I agree. I think we are going to need one device. My guess is that an Apple tablet running some version of Mac OS X will provide that. A bigger version of the iPhone, if you will.

  • http://twitter.com/JeffLoper @JeffLoper

    Great post, Mike. I love where publishing is at right now and where it's going. It's incredibly exciting. I personally think that publishing has a lot to learn from the video game industry. The video game industry is incredibly capable of creating a totally immersive experiences that incorporate reading, video, audio, web, fan interaction, and, of course, game playing. While the last of which is not a focus of ours, it could definitely be an included component. I envision reading a book, being able to link out to a cinematic recreation of what you just read, or perhaps it's just integrated into the story, hearing intense audio as you read a heart-pounding segment, answering thought provoking questions that take you to the next part of the book, being able to get additional content from the web, and easily linking out from the book to share the experience with your communities. And all these ideas are just the beginning. Can't wait to explore more.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I think the game industry is a good parallel. In fact, we used this very analogy today in a meeting with our publishers about the future of eBooks. I share your enthusiasm. This is all going to get very interesting.

  • http://www.mymuneca.org James

    I can see a fiction story come to life with this type of medium. A few well placed animated scenes can really set the tone for the whole story, its an exciting thought.

    And for non-fiction and self-help, which I write, showing examples instead of trying to explain these is really an exciting concept, cant wait!!

  • Miko Bustamante

    I think ti's an awesome device for displaying magazines. How does it exactly follow that it means the death of BOOK publishing? How can reading a book that has nothing but TEXT be as cool as reading the Sports Illustrated magazine in the video?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      That's precisely why books will have to morph. Also, I am not arguing for the death of book publishing but rather book publishing as we know it. Thanks.

  • http://www.emergingintofaith.com Dr. David Frisbie

    We'll be living in a "both-and" world for quite some time. Too many of us love books; we may do more of our shopping on-line but what we're buying has cover art, pages, and binding. The arrival of an actual "book" in the actual mail is an event that is treasured in North America and beyond.

    Meanwhile early adopters will keep adapting to technology that changes before it arrives. Best of luck to them. A few dozen tech formats from now, I'll still be picking up a Walker Percy novel and settling into an armchair near the fireplace. When I finish Percy, I'm halfway through an Annie Dillard that is just as compelling as it was a decade ago.

    Tiny type on tiny screens is definitely compelling to some — Forgive me if I wish they'd just quit reading and drive!!

    My recent post Enchanted Evening

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Consider this fact: in November Amazon sold 48 Kindle books for every 100 physical books they sold. I think the shift is happening more quickly than most of us thought it would.

      This doesn't mean that physical books will go away entirely. I love them, too. I suspect that we will have to develop both for some time.

  • http://www.dailyreflectionsforsingleparents.blogspot.com/ Scoti Domeij

    Oh wow! Being able to express ideas through words, graphic design, photography, detailed content, and video is a creatives dream come true. Sometimes it's frustrating to confine creativity to words. My muse just exploded into overdrive.
    My recent post Finding Balance

  • Andy

    The first premise in fiction writing is, show, don’t tell. The novel world is like the radio drama of 60 years ago—it all takes place in the theatre of the mind. I, for one, would not want to give that up. Adding animation would make novels more like television—telling, not showing; doing your thinking for you—turning your brain into mush.

    Where these devices would excel (aside from magazines) is for how-to manuals, software manuals, etc, where a picture or video really would be worth a thousand words. Apart from that, though, I fear they will do more to contribute to short attention spans and the general dumbing-down of society.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/halhunter halhunter

    For me as for many people, the sticking point in the emerging media debate is continuing access to owned content. The books I bought 40 years ago are still as useful and accessible as they were when brand new ( a couple coffee stains aside). But, in just the past couple years I finally threw out some 8 inch floppies- the contents (probably but not certainly) still on them but the reader drives for them long since in a dump.

    I think we may soon see a "cloud" model emerging. My owned content will reside in the cloud, and my access is through a constantly evolving set of communication channels and end point equipment. Of course, this means I become dependent on those who own/control the cloud and the channels, but I am not ready to put on a tinfoil hat and rails against that.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I suspect you are right. Our industry must figure out the DRM issue and develop a common format. Consumers are going to demand that. I have already slowed down my purchase of Kindle books, because I don't like the idea of being locked into a device that will soon be obsolete.

  • Jason E

    I realize that your company publishes mostly nonfiction, but it would be interesting to get your vision on how a device like this would mix with fiction. Someone at TN must be thinking about it.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Yes, we have been thinking about it.

      We definitely don't want to rob the reader of the imaginative experience. But I think we could enhance that through maps, hyperlinks to character profiles, backstory detail, etc.

  • http://homemakermd.com Homemaker, MD

    Wow, that's something else!
    My recent post The results of a slight case of insomnia

  • http://www.mymuneca.org James

    Having a whole book in video is just that.. a video, but I think being able to get a glimpse of the authors vision behind the story line would be awesome and dont see how that can contribute any further to the dumbing down of society. Actually, I'm not even sure what that really means. Back to the original question, the publishing world will embrace this (will have no choice) as the cost structure will come way down and the availability and distribution of the material will be plentiful, allowing just about anyone to compete in what used to be a very exclusive industry. Anyway, I'm all for it, and now have an idea for my christmas gift!

  • http://yourethepoint.com @jeremymoore

    wow, this is amazing, just removed the nook from my christmas list! I'll wait…
    My recent post The emotional power of video

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  • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff

    Very fascinating. Michael, I'm wondering how you personally feel about this? Certainly, I appreciate that as a publisher and businessman that you're adapting with the times. In fact, I find that quite admirable. You're certainly an innovative thinker and wanting to be on the cutting edge of how technology and the publishing business converge.

    However, I can only imagine that reading a physical book carries with it also some emotional attachment for you. Maybe I'm wrong, but would you grieve the loss of printed, hardbound books for the sheer aesthetic/emotional experience of reading one (i.e. the smell, feel, etc.)?

    I think I might (but I'm also incredibly utilitarian and pragmatic, and the idea of an entire library in one small package is attractive, I must admit).
    My recent post Are Spiritual Disciplines Boring?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I'm really utilitarian, too. While I love having books around me, I hate spending time trying to find one I read a few years ago—not to mention finding a passage I read. I also like being able to travel with my library in my hand.

  • http://twitter.com/hitech @hitech

    Great article and very timely. One thing that I think is also happening is the componeitization of content, so essentially why do I as a consumer purchase an entire new york times "digital newspaper edition" when I am only interested in the "Technology/Financial" related news etc. I think the new medium provides an opportunity to be able to "sell" pieces of content much easily than in their current form (for instance i can't just purchase the technology section of NYT etc.).

    Another benefit of the digital media, is the easy access to cross-sell and other forms of revenue. For instance, while I might just pay 10cents for the technology section of NYT, if I get referred to a eBook (which has a digital excerpt written in that edition), NYT would get the referral fees in addition to the 10cents. So essentially there are tons of new monetization capabilities available due to this easy "hyperlinking" of the digital publishing content, which were not available before. This should offset largely the additional costs required perhaps.

    • http://twitter.com/JeffLoper @JeffLoper

      Totally agree with you @hitech. I think books will exist in multiple formats. It will no longer be just the book. There will be the full-tilt experience with all the bells and whistles available on an eBook device, but then there will be other options available on devices like smart phones, other eBooks like the Kindle, the audiobook, the traditional book, and other formats yet to be dreamed of. Each of these would offer their own unique take on the product and what it offers, as well as additional revenue possibilities.

  • Debra Porter Twardowski

    I remember the authors and publishers who were railing against Epublishing a mere 10 years ago. I sold an Ebook in 1999 and I was an "outcast" amongst other writers. Publishers would not give me any credit for the sale and other published authors held their noses. Also, the national writing organization I belonged to still (to this day) differentiates between the two. We were not real writers unless we sold to a paper publisher. Even trade paperbacks were not considered "real" writing. The drama left a sour taste in my passion to write. There are still battle lines drawn. Who will win?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I refer to these kinds of organizations as “guilds.” They are designed to protect the status quo and the positions of those inside the guild. Like the Berlin wall, technology will bring these barriers down.

  • Cheryl Pickett

    One issue that hasn't really been touched on yet is that of the consumer's willingness to buy in digital format. Obviously with music, software and the like, we've seen much more sharing than one could do passing around a single book among friends.

    Also, YouTube videos, blogs and a large part of informative content is now completely free. When books start mimicking these formats, it will be interesting to see how publishers will convince people to buy and not expect it all to be free. Movies have managed to survive, maybe there are examples and lessons to be learned there.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I think Apple has done a great job convincing consumers that it's more convenient and safer to buy songs at $.99 or even $1.29 than pirate the music and risk getting a virus or some porn file. The trick is going to be finding the right price.

  • http://www.publishedauthors.net/robsargeant Rob Sargeant

    Digital book publishing like this will require a production team, similar to what's used now to produce films and TV shows. Much more of a team effort. For authors thinking outside of the box. Should be interesting.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Exactly. We were talking about this very thing today in a meeting with our publishers. This is going to become more than editing text.

  • http://www.eastlondonadventurersclub.com r. michael

    I can see these as a huge success for university students. Having all their required reading on a single device is great, not to mention there should also be a cost savings in purchasing the e-version of a textbook. As with any new electronic gadget, it will certainly have its place in the world.
    As a mystery writer I have to agree with the fiction comments above, with regard to the well written story stimulating the reader's imagination. I read to escape and relax, and I like formulating the look of the characters and scenes in my mind, without the aid of rich content. I write hoping to do the same for my readers.
    Will I own an eReader? Absolutely. Will I tote it to the beach wondering what affect sand and water might have on it? Probably not. And what about the sound of it hitting the floor wake when I doze off in bed and it slips off my lap? Priceless.

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  • http://intensedebate.com/people/wackozacko wackozacko

    Something jumped out at me reading this article which no one has commented on. What about spoken text? I'm a member of the 'younger' generation and if I were to be presented with such media rich content, I wouldn't want to stop browsing the photo's to read the text. Especially if I could have it read for me.
    Just a thought, but I think including some good spoken text software would greatly improve this form of media rich presentation.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/patriciazell patriciazell

      Right now I am dealing with juniors and seniors in high school who do not want to read a book–they want it to be read to them. If we're not careful, too much technology will rob us of a necessary skill.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/patriciazell patriciazell

    I imagine the state of our economy will play a big part in whether this technology takes off. Many people already are paying an arm and a leg just to "read" and to communicate. Frankly, many people don't need any more "must have" technological devices–they struggle with just keeping a roof over their heads and food on their tables.
    I don't think the delivery method of the written word is the problem. The real issue is the sheer amount of "stuff" that wants our attention. Look at the explosion of magazines, books, cable broadcasting, and web sites–is it any wonder that some of them are going out of business? There are just not enough consumers to support them all.
    Just like fashion, physical books may go out of style for a time, but the pendulem will probably swing back. Look at the resurgence of the record players–after all the I-pods, cds, and play lists, record players are showing up in catalogs again.
    My recent post #21 UNDERSTANDING CHRIST: HIS IDENTITY

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  • http://www.argyleandapricots.com/site/ Danny Z

    I am not in the publishing industry but have $.02. All things media are changing so quickly, much like the tech sector. This puts publishers in a difficult spot, do you hold the line and continue business as usual understanding that the company could become extinct? Do you invest in R&D or develop the latest product, delivery system, methodology, etc with the potential that the investment does not hit the markets needs? It seems like creating a more flexible and adaptable company would be key to surviving a major shift like this. Reducing the companies assets, outsourcing more non core functions, partnering with hardware and software providers for content delivery would be strategies to consider. I think it is an exciting time to be in the publishing industry as you figure out how to continue creating value for the reader and the writer.

    My recent post Should Serving God Make You Miserable?

  • http://terripatrick.wordpress.com/ terri

    Micheal,
    These are exciting times!

    I have no idea how these new devices will impact the business of publishing. I’ve been a business consultant, with a background in accounting, and a technical writer, so to me, the world of publishing doesn’t compute because it’s too esoteric and operates out-of-time.

    Consider, an editor/publisher buys today, something an author wrote last year, that won’t be published until next year (or more) in hopes the reading public will buy it – then.

    What I do know – since my tech writing work was done at the cutting edge of high tech – these devices will reshape the way information is presented and consumed. Publishing is a global business that really isn’t sure about what product is going to appeal to the masses, so puts out lots of books.

    I’m a simple girl. I like a good story and a good meal with my family.

    I am totally into digital media but am also very discerning about what I read and how easily I click off a website. There are changes ahead, but technology is not more important than story. Branding may be the thing, for another decade or two, but what will evolve is story, and only if well written and well presented.

    Readers can already absorb more than printed words on a page, while good music plays in the background, and graphics explode, it’s called movies. But the other side of the picture is taking a pause, going into a meditative state during prayer and exercise. Silencing the noise to hear the voice of spirit, and good words on the page.

    Publishing is also a global business. How available will these new devices be in countries that have massive populations but still don’t have running water. Yet, they have libraries.

    The history of books is just beginning, the potential for story is constantly evolving.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/JenniferLKing JenniferLKing

    What excites me is the possibility of enriched reading and learning, on a completely different level than has ever been known before. Being a bit on the technology background side as a writer, I see endless opportunities to reach readers in a new way– even starting with something as simple as linking to a publisher's and author's webpages, and other web presences. And fiction– well, embedding new props will be tricky to give the reader his imagination room to go, but again, the possiblities are endless.

    Alongside new reading technology, I think I'll always enjoy a case full of books, even if they are "artifacts", but thank you, Michael, for helping to lead the curve, and engage others in something new.

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  • nicola

    Hi Mike, Thanks for the heads up video and your excellent predictions for the future of book publishing. As a published genre author and electronic publisher, I say bring it on. Why just read text when you can have a multimedia experience? It's something I've experimented with in a free online thriller at http://www.UnnaturalStates.com. Just don't call it a book; it's a Quillr.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      That's a clever title. Great!

  • http://twitter.com/sandycathcart @sandycathcart

    It definitely looks like the dawning of a new age…as a photographer I witnessed the turning from film to digital over ONE Christmas season. I'm still dealing with the adjusting to the changes but overall the switch has helped me more than hindered.

    The important thing as writers is to nurture our imaginations.

    I'm both excited and frightened of the new changes coming to the publishing industry, but I'm mostly hopeful. My imagination is going wild with ideas for both my nonfiction and fiction writing.

    That said…I believe the coming change will not be as abrupt or complete as it was for the film-to-digital change. Straight text will still be a needed commodity, even if we add all the bells and whistles to it.

    As a reader, I still like to read a book first, listen to it on tape second, and then watch the movie. Electronic book. Fine. I can adjust. But give me the option of straight text along with the choice of all the bells and whistles.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Yep. I think the straight text should be an option, too. The good news is that should be easy technically.

  • John

    I might be wrong, but I doubt that I'll ever buy one of these.

    Devices like this do some things well, but they're mostly for technophiles not bibliophiles. Sure you can carry hundreds of books and/or magazines on an electronic device. That's great. But who wants to curl up by the fireplace with an electronic device? These devices (which will become obsolete every year or two…the Kindle is already in its third release) will probably never completely replace ink and paper.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Kindle is actually in its second release. Kindle owners are Amazon's heaviest book buyers. The experience is so easy. All you have to do is think of the book or hear one recommended and you can download it in a few seconds.

      I don't expect books to ever disappear altogether. Just like we still have candles. ;-)

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  • http://www.michaelnozbe.com MichaelNozbe

    I'm still not sure if that's the case and if 2010 will bring so much change… however due to the fact that the content is "in the cloud" this could really start happening…

    I've read my last books on my iPhone and now I also started purchasing audio-books… there will be lots of new ways of digesting content and it'll be really exciting to see what the consumers will eventually choose as their "dominant" way of "reading"… or there will be no dominant way? Just a set of really powerful alternatives?
    My recent post Open ID is for geeks… Facebook and Twitter are not… and win!

  • Shane Kennard

    Michael, great to see someone "get it" from the "hard copy" world. What Time is working on is HUGE. Makes me excited to see what Apple has in store. You have to think it is every bit of good as that.
    My recent post Giving To Church Planting

  • http://anam-cara.typepad.com Shelia

    As a rabid reader (yes I purposely used rabid rather than avid) :), I love anything that will put more books into my hands. I think of some obscure titles I have tried to locate of late and wonder if this will eventually make those easier, and less costly, to obtain.

    Like David, I am an old soul who will always have a sentimental attachment to the feel, the smell, the crinkle of pages. I will always want beautiful books lying about the house seducing me to stop and linger for a bit. But the possibility of reading about a great artwork, an exotic location, or a marvelous musical composition, then clicking through a link to visit said work or locale is immensely appealing to me.

  • http://www.bee-magic.com barbara

    I just keep thinking of the trees. All those trees that won't need to be cut down to make paper.
    I too love to hold a real book and turn its pages but I'm willing to sacrifice that experience to help the planet.
    This shift reminds me of microwave ovens when they first came out. That technology was so new it changed everything. It took a few years though and even now you'll still find the occasional person who doesn't have one. Notice how no one takes microwave cooking classes anymore? It's ingrained into our culture now.
    I still think books will be around but this technology is not going to go away.

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  • http://schesnut.wordpress.com/ Steve

    I like it, but still anticipating the Apple Tablet. The latest rumor is what – March maybe? I like what you said on another post about the preferred sizing, something between the size of the iPhone and the kindle. I've been saying the same, and I bet many others feel the same.
    My recent post Proverbs, Clichés, and One-Liners

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  • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff

    Very interesting ongoing discussion here. Frankly, I feel behind the curve. Is one reader better than another – if so, which one and why?
    My recent post Would You Grieve the Loss of Physical Books?

  • Dave

    Michael:

    It looks like a big iPhone which is what a larger iPhone could easily do today!

    So – the big question is – when is Apple going to make the iTablet or iScreen that looks like this demo ? If Apple doesn't do it….somebody else will and it could be a popular NetBook combined with a reader on steroids !

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  • http://intensedebate.com/people/ejdavis ejdavis

    Kindle, Nook, or SI Tablet …

    I am an avid reader. I read about 5 books a week, usually from cover to cover.

    I am dual-careered. In psychotherapy, my work evolves with advances in brain research and scientific books are critical. I am also a User Experience (UX) designer and am always canvassing the digital information architecture of websites, software, mobile applications, and gadgets to watch human factor trends. (I do read an occasional inspirational book for my own nourishment, hence my admiration of publishers like Thomas Nelson and Zondervan.)

    Books going digital is a great delight! I am hoping a digital reader will aid in keeping my skillsets cutting edge but I'm not sure how I feel about a digital reader and the more "limbic", or emotional reading I do.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/ejdavis ejdavis

    I will be watching early 2010 to see which reader emerges out front. I will also read with interest the customer ratings. The prettier graphic user interface doesn't always get the best return-on-investment. Which early design features are going to separate the leading reader from the pack? Will there be a difference in user psychological demographics and will publishers need a multi-neural strategy? Will the leading digital reader be passive … or will it be 'engaging'?
    Ahh … the possibilities!
    Simple wireframe diagrams and fancy html + css won't cut it. The key will be to see if Thomas Nelson can transition out of static digital design to more interactive (engaging) book design! You will have to add superstar digital designers to your list of superstar authors!
    I know you can do it! Now, ready, set … go!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/dianne.koehler Dianne Koehler

    As a member of a library community it seems there is no place for this technology as it is very anti-sharing. I would love to see books, esp non-fiction/reference and magazines available in digital. we could have so many more available for people to browse. we could keep the older issues to refer back to and enjoy. Perhaps the cloud computing community will enable this.

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  • http://antonya-delacruz.webs.com/ Antonya

    I hope the love for holding a physical book in your hand never dies. It's an experience that can never be replaced by technology. Books don't have batteries run out, they smell amazing, and they're wonderful to look at as they fill up your shelves and represent the different adventures you have gone on.

    As great as technology is is, books are a tradition that should be carried on through out time. They have been our "ultimate discourse" for centuries and what honor would we be doing them by replacing them with plastic and chips?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      You could replace "book" with candle and make the same argument.

      I don't think books will ever completely go away for the same reason that candles will never go completely away. However, I do believe that physical books will be largely replaced by digital ones—probably in the next few years.

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  • http://www.shennen.com Shennen

    I have a problem with Number 6, People will be reading more than ever.
    It doesn't matter how much people read, what matters is how much people comprehend what has been written. Putting bells and whistles on the words won't make you more readily grasp the concepts; if anything, it could distract your concentration.

    I see a difference between communication tools and educational content. I have IMs, texts, and emails blasting away at me all day long that I have to read. This reading falls under communication. I see little to no intellectual value in all this reading. Give me a book – that doesn't need batteries – and a quiet place and I can learn something.
    My recent post Mom's Choice Award – GOLD

  • Jonathan

    Very interesting

  • Jeff

    Great insight, thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/christinet6d @christinet6d

    I kinda sorta agree. Yes, media consumption habits are changing. But the industry isn't "dead". It is evolving to meet customers needs. (Or at least it should be.)

    Let's also remember that no matter how many Kindles Amazon tells us that they've sold, these technologies are still novelties for the majority of the reading public. When faced with a $300+ purchase (device + content) or a $14.95 purchase (paper + content), many people are still choosing the cheapest, most familiar technology, i.e. bound pages.

    The biggest challenge for media will be how to develop a business model that supports the need of both digital and paper customers. As long as you've got customers in both camps, you can't abandon either out right. Because paper isn't going anywhere soon, and digital is clearly here to stay.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Just to be clear: I didn't say the industry is dead. I said that book publishing as we know it is near death.

      Also, Amazon claims that in November two-third to one-half of their book sales were Kindle versions. This number shocked me and indicates that we are well past the early adopter phase.

      Thanks for commenting.

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  • http://www.stephenbrewster.me brewster

    I would think more content will be consumed because it will be easier to touch. I will be able to buy a book from my phone/tablet and can do so on impulse. I wont have the time to talk myself out of it on the way to the bookstore. Marketing becomes more important than ever.
    My recent post Preparing For “The Next”

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  • Andrew Tribute

    This is a very interesting video but hardly the first on this subject. I remember a video on the future newspaper produced by Atex in the 1980s that showed many similar concepts. Time were a big Atex customer and obviously got many of there ideas back then. It is also interesting to put what was shown into context. What we are seeing is not really an e-Reader. This is another version of the Tablet PC that Microsoft introduced a few years back. It will have a limited battery life because it is driving a largish conventional LED screen. We will not see color on e-Readers using low power consumption screens for probably three years. This Time device will also be relatively heavy compared with Kindle like devices. The video shows what is possible but unfortunately not what will be deliverable in a practical format for some time. The Apple Tablet will almost certainly be similar with an LED color screen. The real future will be when E-Ink or Plastic Logic bring color screens to market. Probably the first implementation of the Time tablet will be as software for a PC.

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  • http://www.examiner.com/x-32254-Orlando-Writing-Examiner Tim Baker

    While I agree that there are drastic changes on the horizon, I don't think they'll be here as soon as some people think.
    When the compact disc was introduced in the late eighties people swore that vinyl was dead. To a degree this was true, but the LP died a very slow death and still enjoys popularity among some purists who enjoy the imperfections associated with it.
    I can't say that I agree with your comparison of "black & white to color" because that was an improvement to an existing medium, not a completely new technology.
    Naturally it is inevitable that digital technology will completely replace analog technology but in my opinion it will not be complete for many years. Probably about the same amount of time it takes for the analog generation to become a non-factor.
    Even when the automobile was invented the horse and carriage hung on until the die-hards…died off.

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  • Mick Grady

    This is an interesting perspective and I agree with almost all of it. Back in the day when Flash came along, everyone thought the Internet and general media would change. Everyone would use Flash or those types of delivery mechanisms to deliver Rich Content. Many websites used Flash to develop Rich Content sites and when the web crawlers had difficulty decoding the content developers pushed things in a different direction. Today Flash is used everywhere but there are not many pure Flash sites.

    I’ve always wondered about the movie industry and how they seem to consistently change the story line. Take Lord of the Rings. The trilogy is pretty much in sync with the books, but there is a depth that the movies omitted. Perhaps it’s the time and expense to create a movie that follows the book or that instead of three movies there would be twelve.

    Here is the conflict in my thinking. When you read a book, albeit the old fashion way or a new reader device, you have the ability to visualize that story using your own creativity. You gain more than just reading the story, but can experience it. Seems to me that being guided so to speak by the visual, audio and animated story tellers we will lose a major reason why we read.

    The new media presentation direction we are headed reminds me of when we were teaching the kids to read. We had all the pretty artist renderings of what their interpretation of the story was and the child’s imagination was left out. When we transitioned to books without pictures every child didn’t want to read those books because there were no pictures. I have written children’s stories for the children and grandchildren in my life. None of them have pictures, mainly because I cannot draw, but primarily because I want them to create in their mind what that story looks like.

    I guess my question is, are now going to create the images of Huckleberry Finn and every other great book written or to be written and leave behind the imagination of our youth, just to accommodate new technology?

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  • http://teresadamario.com Teresa

    This is a very impressive product. Yes, it's possible to see changes in publishing, but I"m not sure I agree with everything you mention.

    For book readers, I don't see the interactive capability as all that exciting. When I read, I dont' want anything interrupting me. It's rare that I'll ever put a book down so I can go look up more "interactive" activities. Book reading is a solitary thing, and I can't see novel publishers hiring actors to act out the scenes, so I'm really not seeing much benefit there. Plus, the view screen is exceptionally bright – needed for magazines, perhaps, but a detriment to the power reader. It's why the e-ink is so popular on e-readers. I Got enough of a headache watching James Cameron's new movie. I don't want to get one when I read. Now if the new SI has the ability to turn on or off the E-ink, now THAT would make this exciting to the power reader. Turn it on for ebooks, turn it off for the magazines. But it would have to be a simple interface/touch to do that, otherwise, it won't work. Or, perhaps an auto sensor inside, if there's no interactive content, to switch to e-ink, and vice versa.

    The ability to have interactive content for mags and newspapers is great. But… I'm not a mag/newspaper reader. Would I become one with this? Maybe. Just maybe. The look from the video is pretty awesome. The interface appears to be simple enough, though I wonder about smeared touch screens, etc. (can you tell I'm not a touch screen person?)

    I'm curious as to the power requirements, and the cost. Both of those could make or break this for now. In the future perhaps,

  • Bethany Thouin

    I am constantly amazed by your "visionary" ability. This is fascinating stuff. I think that it is the end of the glory days of publishing in the traditional book format, but it is a much needed "pruning." There is so much "not great" out there.

    People will still buy great books, probably mostly fiction. A great book is still comforting, still "feels" good to put on a home shelf, is still a good conversation piece, still a great gift, still completely portable, still unable to be replaced by flashy, new formats.

    I don't like bookstores anymore because I get lost in all the hype. I'm ready for GREAT again. Let the hype be part of the new format. Give me fewer books and a publishing company with content integrity. For the love of books, I will buy what they are selling all day long!

  • Bethany Thouin

    I am constantly amazed by your "visionary" ability. This is fascinating stuff. I think that it is the end of the glory days of publishing in the traditional book format, but it is a much needed "pruning." There is so much "not great" out there.

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  • newlife4Him

    So…how is Nelson positioning itself with regards to these other electronic media content providers? How can authors/writers get in on these inter media relationships of the future?

  • Cindy Lamir

    Hi Michael, I love your analysis. I have been in educational publishing for most of my career and decided to pursue a different path a couple of years ago . I was in marketing and knew that the big educational publishers would crash and burn if: 1) they did not change the company infrastructure to meet the needs of today's market and students, 2) they did not create print and digital materials simultaneously to deliver to customers, and 3) hardware was not developed that would provide an accessible and intuitive platform for teachers to deliver digital content to their students.(like iPhone- very non-threatening and no need for classes to learn how to use) Well… it is happening, huh? Let's hope that the big educational companies figure out how to deliver what teachers and students want and need. Interesting times and so many exciting opportunities! Cindy

  • http://nickersandinkblog.blogspot.com Linda Ann Nickerson

    Great post.
    I am one of those printed word die-hards, although I write online. Recently, I have reviewed books online, and I really missed the feeling of actual pages in my hands.
    Never fear. I will eventually come around. (I remember, during my early career as a book editor for a Christian publisher, learning to edit on a computer. I addressed this development with a considerable amount of kicking and screaming – at least, figuratively speaking.)
    Congratulations on the TOP BOOK listings!

    My recent post Blowing the Curve

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  • http://twitter.com/lewismoats @lewismoats

    I love how when during the demo, at the 2:36 mark, the 'Game Alert' pops up on the screen with 'Dodgers' spelled 'Dogers'… SI misspells Los Angeles' team name? And I'm first to catch it? Ha… How did this get by?

  • http://louisbyrd.wordpress.com/ Louis Byrd

    Thomas…man I agree with you wholeheartedly. I am in the music media industry. I am very excited at the new direction content is going. I do agree it is kinda sad that physical mediums will soon be a mere thought of nostalgia, but the idea of being able to read an article on the new 2012 Ford Fusion (arbitrary ex.) and be able to look at every aspect of the car or video of how they designed, on some media device fascinates me. The only thing I do not agree with you own is the fact that users will not be willing to pay a premium…I kind of look at this new paradigm shift as public broadcast—> network cable television…People are willing to pay for things they think are of value and if the packaging is put together I believe that users would not mind pay X amount of dollars for unlimited content or bonus features Great article!!!
    My recent post Media Take Over!!!!!?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/jeremyhoover Jeremy Hoover

    I love the idea of multimedia "books." It makes sense, instead of just a text-based item, to include an audio of the writer reading part of the book or a video interview of how he/she came to the write the book. I've begun to feel that many books–fiction and non-fiction both–could be a lot shorter. Including multimedia elements is great way to add value even if the text portion itself becomes shorter. Even better would be to include a space for comments to create an ongoing discussion between author and reader.
    My recent post Sermon: Be Careful What You Pray For

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  • http://www.LizDavisBlog.com Elizabeth Davis

    Need a Thomas Nelson selection of coverz for my Nook! -Elizabeth

    Ideas: business, whimsical, inspirational
    My recent post PHP Fusion … a medical tempo that makes sense!

  • Gail

    Before you give up on books all together grab one called "Fahrenheit 451" – it will shed a whole new light on burning the pages.

  • http://www.nancyfalconi.com Nancy Falconi

    As a photographer/writer (visual story teller) I see this as an amazing development. I agree with many of Michael's comments and as a photographer I have realigned my business along the same thought process. I was recently reading "Understanding Comics – The Invisible Art" by Scott McCloud. It is an excellent book about how we deal with visual language to tell a story – I don't think one has to compete with an other text vs language, rather they can complement each other.

  • http://jesusofnazareth-alovestory.com/ Rebekah

    Dear Mr. Hyatt,

    Thank you so much for this information! This is thrilling to me as I am already combining videos and pictures with my pen. I did it a bit with my divorce memoir but am doing it daily with my blog now. I am currently searching in how to perfect my videos as all this high tech gadgetry is a bit foreign, to say the least.

    But it is so much fun to do as I love to write and love to worship and the combining of the two on my pages is awesome! Bless you for posting this! It is an encouragement to me and I will look into it further!

    Rebekah (pen name)

  • Edge

    Good article but the fact that it uses a concept device that will never exist shows the author doesn’t know too much about technology. That being said, the iPad does exist and can do all of that, so ya, times are changing.

  • http://www.johncokeefe.com John O'Keefe

    What I see happening is a shift from the Gutenberg to the Google, Authors, Editors and Publishers will need to be far more creative and dream past the current norm. They will need to envision a product that is interactive, informative and creative. Creatives will find a new home in the publishing industry, surpassing their current involvement of simply cover design. I know on a personal level I turned down two publishers for my new book because they desired complete creative control over the cover and content. Now, as I look to getting out my next book I am looking more towards the ipad market. Creatives will be the lead in this next step in publishing. Here is a short list of what I envision for my next book:

    videos instead of pictures:
    foot notes that are linked to other sources:
    Audio that will invite people into the discussion:
    QR codes that will invite people to download information to other devices:
    The ability to comment in real time from the ipad and have it displayed on a site:
    The ability to tweet a section of the book in real time;

    There are more things I plan on adding – but that is a short list :)

    What I have found is that most Publishers lack the ability to see past where they are now; they do not see the future, nor do they see the present. My hope, my prayer, is that they soon come to the realization that in a Conceptual Age creatives will change the way we do things. My worry, my fear, is that many will strive to hold to the Industrial Age and keep doing the same old, same old. But, as you said, if they do they will not survive the reality of a Conceptual Age.

    • Robert

      John, I'd really dig seeing the rest of your list there. It does make me wonder though if the load will be more on the author to key in links, etc., or a "value added" from a growing crew of editors and other facilitators. I suppose it will vary a good bit, but any one chapter could take a week's production work for proper "illustration." I'm afraid I foresee a shift here, with publishers and their growing staffs taking over more of the creative process, and the proceeds, and Writing becoming like Farming in the past century.

  • http://bretmavrich.posterous.com/ Bret Mavrich

    You know, I hope that this means there are tons more venues and exciting new markets for good writers. I like your take, that “people are reading more than ever.”

  • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff Goins

    I didn’t really buy this the first time I read it. A year later, and I totally get it. I don’t own an iPad nor a Kindle, but I downloaded the Kindle app on my iPhone and have been amazed by how much more I read now that I have a library in my pocket. It’s done in smaller doses, however, given the medium, and I think that the mobility of these devices will affect the content itself. More authors will be moving to formats that suit our mobile culture of constant interruption. Seth Godin has been writing like this (in bite-sized, blog-like chunks) for years now. I think more authors will be doing this.

  • Remarkable Peace

    I just discovered your blog recently, thanks for the work you put into it.

    I know this post is old enough to be petrified, but it was interesting to me as I’m a bit of a bibliophile myself. It would seem obvious that an electronic market is going to open more and more in the future, but I’m wondering how far that reach will go. For example, who in Haiti is going to read off of (let alone own) a Tablet? Or in most parts of Africa? Or rural China? Most of the world’s population does not live at the level where they can afford and productively use many technologies we enjoy in the States. And yet, books can go that distance, and outlast any technology we’ve come up with in the last 200 years (just look at the Dead Sea Scrolls…not that just anyone is picking them up for a browse; but they endured time and change).

    That said, Tom-Nel’s primary audience is not rural China or African villages, so in that sense I think your point is well taken. Considering TN’s target population it would seem a good idea to take the lead in investing and opening that market.

    Thanks TN, for your work in producing good books!

  • Remarkable Peace

    I just discovered your blog recently, thanks for the work you put into it.

    I know this post is old enough to be petrified, but it was interesting to me as I’m a bit of a bibliophile myself. It would seem obvious that an electronic market is going to open more and more in the future, but I’m wondering how far that reach will go. For example, who in Haiti is going to read off of (let alone own) a Tablet? Or in most parts of Africa? Or rural China? Most of the world’s population does not live at the level where they can afford and productively use many technologies we enjoy in the States. And yet, books can go that distance, and outlast any technology we’ve come up with in the last 200 years (just look at the Dead Sea Scrolls…not that just anyone is picking them up for a browse; but they endured time and change).

    That said, Tom-Nel’s primary audience is not rural China or African villages, so in that sense I think your point is well taken. Considering TN’s target population it would seem a good idea to take the lead in investing and opening that market.

    Thanks TN, for your work in producing good books!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You make a good point about places like Haiti. However, realistically, they don’t buy many print books either. Unfortunately, unless we consciously try to reach out to those lacking in resources, the digital divide is only going to make poverty worse.

  • http://twitter.com/2020VisionBook Joshua Hood

    I’m torn… the purist in me loves the feel, look, and experience of ‘real’ books… but the tech, geeky side of me loves the new technology… Hopefully we can preserve the beauty of the old, while utilizing the possibilities of the new!

    Joshua Hood
    2020visiononline.org

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  • world top tenz

    nice intersting post
      World Top Tenz

  • Swhines

    Dear Mike: Know you’re busy, man. But I’d like to meet you sometime at Starbucks or something. I’m writing full time now, and my new book is out Sept. 1, Titanic: One Newspaper, Seven Days, and the Truth That Shocked the World. I have an idea about how to add value to online books I’d like to run past you. I wonder if this idea has been tried before.

  • Web design London

     I am looking forward to buying my first ebook reader, I usually buy 2-3 hard copy books a month, I am excited about what is coming from the ebook standpoint.

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  • Macamaniac007

    It’s been interesting reading through the comments and at this stage I have the luxury of being 2 years later than when this was blog post was first written.  We can now see that the iPad (and all those other tablets, I’m an Applehead), is here to stay and has changed the publishing and reading landscape.  I read books on my iPhone, a lot.  It’s very easy to stand in the looooong lines at Walmart and catch up on, sometimes, an entire chapter in a book I’m reading.  Riding through the car wash, waiting in the line to pick up my son from school,  stuck in traffic (not moving of course), and a host of other situations has changed from just listening to the radio to consuming a whole bunch of text – and video/audio :)

  • http://www.inspiration-for-singles.com/ Jack Zavada

    It’s now 2012 and that video was dated 2010.  What happened to the SI tablet?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Honestly, I don’t know. I haven’t heard a word.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      I researched and couldn’t find any other information about it either. It looks like it was never released but did scare Steve Jobs when he saw the preview video. – http://mashable.com/2011/11/04/sports-illustrated-steve-jobs/

      Could have been a great tablet.

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  • Solidussharp

    You can change your opinion but you can’t change the facts. My pointpeople should really get into the habit of fact checking. Lots of bad advice is making content toxic to readers who are smart and know about current trends and industry reports that are shaped with lies . What are yout own thoughts or facts?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    Yep, these are all issues that must be addressed.

  • HOTCHA1

    WOW! WHAT AWESOME TECHNOLOGY! WAY COOL!