Mar 12, 2010 - Publishing    2 Comments

The Future of the ePublishing

#nowplaying “Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen”  by XTC.

The song seems appropriate given today’s post.  When it comes to ePublishing I think we currently have too many cooks in the kitchen.

In the past two weeks I’ve been approached by (or asked to connect with) three separate start-ups that are all in the ePublishing space.  Each has a compelling idea and one even has a revenue model.  All are excited by the movement happening in ePublishing.  They, like me, believe that the future of publishing is digitally bound: thoughts and ideas converted to bits and bytes, streaming across the ether to land on the reader’s device-du-jour, to be consumed anytime, anywhere, in any fashion.  Unlike me, however, each of these publishers see digital as a format.  They have a plan on which devices they plan to support, tools they will need to convert manuscripts to those formats, and have started talking about the marketing strategy they will engage to make their sales on those devices.

I don’t see ePublishing as simply a format question.

I see it as a phenomenon.  And it’s been my experience that phenomenons are really difficult to successfully market to those who haven’t yet drunk the kool-aid (and mind-numbingly easy to market to those who have).

The phenomenon started back in the mid-80’s when writers and poets first began posting their work for the entertainment of their friends on local BBSes.  It continued to evolve when in the early 90’s sites like Recursive Angel and Pif Magazine sprang up in response to the ivory tower mentality of the literary journals which would only publish writers enrolled in their own University’s MFA programs.  The phenomenon continues today as dedicated writers with no name recognition, a minuscule marketing budget and more ambition than can be contained self-publish their works on blogs, online journals and in print through sites like and Amazon’s CreateSpace.

I could care less about format.  I’ll leave that question to be answered by companies like Kobo and BookieJar and Libertary and Stanza and …

The question I want to answer is this: How can technology help us return to a time when storytelling was an interactive communication with an attentive audience?  And how can we accomplish this with the lowest possible barrier to entry?

In the end, the future of ePublishing needs to be less about broadcasting and more about communication.  And format alone doesn’t solve this problem.


  • Howdy. Really good to see a nice guy with a great company muse his thoughts upon the internet space.

  • Richard – I can’t agree more that ePublishing is not just about format. Actually format is a technological barrier for publishing. There was a time when paper was almost the only and universal medium for distributing your work. Now the digital era by its inherent flexibility offers many ways and a large diversity of formats to publish contents.

    To reach a large audience the format is a key variable in the ‘ePublishing equation’. Web technology through your preferred web browser is one answer because the content is reachable by everyone and allows interaction between writers and readers. It already exists a ‘universal’ format that allows everyone to communicate over the internet and it’s… HTML. The very same language used by blogs, forums is also the underlying ePub (the eBook open standard) format.

    In current eBook formats and eReaders the online (or connected) component is missing. I believe that eReaders will evolve and become more powerful and eventually become tablets running a decent web browser (iPad is the first example). Then everyone can read eBooks in a browser base application and more importantly interactive communication.

    Browser based publishing will open the door to ongoing publishing where writers will be able to publish their work chapter by chapter (or even paragraph by paragraph) and get immediate feedback from followers or even interact in real time using chat. That’s the paradigm we are embracing at BookieJar. We support the most popular eBook format for now and we look forward to adopting new technologies to enable more connections between readers and writers. .

    Deyun Wu
    Co-founder and CEO at BookieJar

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