In related news, we’d just like to mention to our friends in L.A. and NYC that we are all very tidy houseguests, and that July is a great month for hosting visitors.
I was both fascinated and terrified by this article – “Your Ebook is Reading You”, which appeared in the Wall Street Journal and was picked up by a few other publishing news outlets. In this new age of ereaders and ebooks, publishers and ebook retailers are gaining more information than ever before on the reading habits of their customers. Massive amounts of data, including the amount of time it takes readers to get through a certain number of pages, which passages they’ve highlighted, and whether they immediately purchased the sequel or not can all be mined from ereaders and ereading apps. From the article:
“Barnes & Noble, which accounts for 25% to 30% of the e-book market through its Nook e-reader, has recently started studying customers' digital reading behavior. Data collected from Nooks reveals, for example, how far readers get in particular books, how quickly they read and how readers of particular genres engage with books. Jim Hilt, the company's vice president of e-books, says the company is starting to share their insights with publishers to help them create books that better hold people's attention.”
Of course, Google, Amazon, Kobo, and many other publishers/retailers are also getting in on this game. Coliloquy, a small publishing company, has even released interactive ebooks where readers can choose which aspects they enjoy the most (for example, which love interest they’d like the hero/heroine to be with). That data is then sent to an author, who uses it to inform the rest of the series.
John Green also writes, in an interview with USA Today this week:
“There is a lot of talk in publishing these days that we need to become more like the Internet: We need to make books for short attention spans with bells and whistles — books, in short, that are as much like Angry Birds as possible. But I think that's a terrible idea.”
Creepy stuff, and I have to admit that there’s a part of me that feels that same “death of literature” outcry rising up – you know, the one that I openly mocked the last time I wrote an Odds & Ends post (payback is a bitch, Catie!).
"This is nothing new. [It's] simply being reinvented by the internet... The Pickwick Papers was published serially and people would respond to the chapters by letter. That's why Sam Weller became such a big part of the book."
Great literature will always be produced, but I do wonder if this (among other things) will further encourage authors to self-publish or go with smaller publishers. It will be exciting to see how this massive shift in publishing plays out over the next decade.
Angry Robot will also soon be experimenting with a new business plan to help support indie book sellers: customers who purchase a print copy of an Angry Robot book from an indie seller will be able to download the ebook for free.
And some other examples that creativity and great literature are not dead:
Kristin Cashore gives a wonderful interview over at The New York Times – I personally loved how many questions she refused to answer (but what’s up with that crazy illustration of her face?!).
Tamora Pierce loves and reviews Seraphina by Rachel Hartman over at omnivoracious.
And just because it’s awesome, here’s a very comprehensive list of non-European fantasy written by women from The Mad Hatter’s Bookshelf and Book Review.
Have a great weekend!