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November 11, 2011


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Jim Kukral

Absolutely David, and I couldn't be happier about it. Forget the "traditional" vs. self-publishing argument... what we should really be concentrating on is what you said: What are "books" becoming?

It can only be a good thing, this change. I've been working hard to stay at the front of this new paradigm now that I'm unleashed from my "big six" contract.

I wonder though, how prolific authors such as yourself will be able to really make moves forward while still fighting the unchanging world of legacy publishing? It doesn't appear to me they're willing to adopt at all?

David Meerman Scott

Hey Jim, Exactly! It is about staying on top of the possibilities. I work with Wiley and they are very ever to embrace new book models. It is exciting.


I also like the convenience of being able to keep all your notes and thoughts in a more organized format using either the Kindle or iPad app.

Having my complete library at hand especially when I want to share something or reference is priceless.

It also helps me save space at home.

David Meerman Scott

Good points Raul. Thanks!


I had never thought about books that way. As a college student, I can see an enormous benefit to learning in that way. Bringing in outside sources and different types of media to supplement a curriculum will be awesome, and I hope these changes come sooner rather than later!

Jason Falls

I'm a bit concerned, though, that the interactivity and self-publishing angle that seems to be the anticipated trend will limit the voices a bit. If someone has to not only write a strong book, but then add interactivity and "bells and whistles" to it in order for it to compete, I think there's a danger many voices may be silenced. I'm not ready to jump on the bandwagon and say that traditional publishing is dead. Lots of people still go to bookstores and buy books. No, not in the volume or manner in which they did in the 1980s, but there is still merit in the carbon-based form of literature, regardless of genre.

I see interactivity and virtual publishing as great opportunity for voices that might not have the sales potential or panache to get a traditional publisher to get behind their book, but I also see a digital land grab that could very well have a counter-intuitive effect and leave lots of really smart people on the sidelines.

I guess time will tell.

David Meerman Scott

Hey Jason - I wouldn't say traditional publishing is dead (Heck I subscribe to the print Boston Globe!) I don't see it as either / or but instead see it as both / and.

There is interesting potential for the new sort of publishing books and consuming them, but print is not going away.

Jim Kukral

Hey Jason,

I don't see it as a limit. That's what gatekeepers did. This is opportunity. Whether people choose to compete is up to them, but they certainly only have themselves to blame for not giving it a go. The tools and technology are cheaper than ever, and easier to use, so there really is no excuse.

Still, you're right, some people just won't want to put in the work to compete. That's great news for those of us who will.

Kristen Simmons

Very interesting dialogue. I have been excited about this evolution, especially since my work is in the area of the customer experience, and this yields more opportunities for an author to provide different EXPERIENCES for the reader.

But, while I'm more of a non-fiction / business book reader, I wonder about fiction, and what this means there. I always thought one of the beautiful things about reading a novel (versus, say, watching a movie) was how the reader would envision the characters the way they made sense in her own mind.

Also, as someone who's easily distracted by opportunities to engage and learn, I fear how long it will take me to "read a book" as the interactivity grows!

michael weiss

But do people want to "read" websites? What I mean is that links and interactivity can be distracting - like a website - and readers may not absorb the content or meaning. Maybe we should not ask people to read these new books but rather to interact or play with them?


I was just talking with someone at a party last night who does textbooks for schools. They are moving big time to Tablets and they are looking at exactly this kind of interactive "book" and even incorporating games in the books or linked to from the books, for drilling, etc. Even games integrated into the text books that are multi-player so the kids in the class can work together. I think you're dead on!


While I like the printed book for its portability, this advantage has disappeared with Kindle and such. I like this new interactivity and ability to link beyond. Seems to blur the lines between linear and purposeful books and in-the-moment blogs.

I used to prefer blogs because they were more up-to-date, but they often left me wanting when I attempted to explore in depth.
Now, I can get the best of both.

With linking a book can be relevant longer.

Leslea Tash

Totally excited for this! I can't wait to start playing with fire!


David, what tool(s) are you using to create these interactive books on either the iPad or Kindle Fire?


Jason Falls wrote, "If someone has to not only write a strong book, but then add interactivity and "bells and whistles" to it in order for it to compete, I think there's a danger many voices may be silenced."

Jason, there are contractors who can be hired to research the links and other goodies (and then consult with the author to ensure that the extras are appropriate). Just as with traditional print, it can take a team to put together an e-book.

David Meerman Scott

I was at a speaking gig all day yesterday and missed this discussion. THanks for keeping it going.

Kristen - You're right. I think fiction would be different. Not sure how you could make it interactive other than possibly linking to sights and sounds and music and whatnot from the novel to make the scenes come alive.

michael - the links are all optional. Just like this post and these comments, I can choose to follow a link or just keep reading.

Neicolec - absolutely!!

BobGuzeman - and it is possible to update the book itself and the links in it when the book is electronic. With paper, that is only possible upon new editions.

Sean Carpenter

It really is going to take the three phases of adult learning and put it into one form. I'm reminded of the old axiom:

Tell me and I'll forget.
Show me and I may remember.
Involve me and I'll understand.

Imagine a student reading about a concept, formula or idea and then being able to click on an embedded video (or link to YouTube) where the instructor/author demonstrates how to solve the problem.

Really cool.

Not to mention how much lighter my children's back packs will become when they just need to carry home one iPad or eReader instead of 4 or 5 mammoth text books.

Great stuff David.


Hi...great comments with strong focus on books that we typically are "learning" things from such as biographies, business books, history books, etc. But do these additives enhance the experience of fiction reading? Does Withering Heights need hot links? Does it need links to a dictionary or to Cliff notes/ plot summaries? Or do we need to link the ebook version to Netflix so we can watch a specific scene to see how a film maker captured it? Heck, I struggled through some of the 'classics', then watched the movie, and then returned to the book, altered but at least I returned. I guess the question is this. What is the future reading experience for fiction?


I can see the potential and the new life this interactivity will bring in books we learn from as mentioned by marc. Speaking for myself here, and with regards to the fiction books, given the option to choose between a hard copy and an interactive e-book I would go for the hard copy any time of day.

A way I would think this could work in fiction is through author/editor notes that would appear on demand or in a higher degree of interactivity a click on a word, say a specific date related to a historical event, would bring a menu allowing the reader to choose from a list of sources describing the said event, or even creating a personalised appendix at the end of the book or reading session.

Thanks for reading through my comment.


I can agree 100% with what your saying here. Our lives are being driven by technology. To me reading a book digitally has its pros and cons. I like the fact that they are easier on the eyes, also very lightweight compared to some books out there. One thing that I don't care for is when you are reading a book you can tell how much you have left to read. You get a sense of completion once you start to get down to the last few pages. Yet with a kindle you don't really get that i'm almost done feeling.

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