Relasing early and iterating often

E-books changing the face of literature, the developments transferable from print to digital seem limitless.

In The Telegraph, Jo-Jo Moyes reports the sales trends of e-books and how the platform’s mass yet edgy appeal is making reading sexy again. The outrageously clear resolution, ergonomic casing and generically trendy look of the latest tablets now have an influence on the author’s work.

E-books may be changing the way we read – and even write. I’m not the only women’s commercial fiction author experiencing an upsurge in the number of male readers. Freed from the trauma of publicly reading a book with a “girlie” cover, men are widening their choices. And one told me that his wife now feels free to read thriller writer Lee Child on her e-reader.

A wider audience is not the only aspect to take into consideration when publishing an e-book, Jo-Jo Moyes also gives evidence of Amazon’s free 10% sample changing the narrative arc of a book. Authors are reportedly inserting a cliffhanger right before the reader is prompted to buy now.

In The Atlantic, Alan Jacobs explores the possibilities of Amazon’s e-book releases further, elaborating how the Kindle’s memory function of knowing where the reader dropped off can provide valuable information to editors and publishers.

Here’s the value: if a significant percentage of readers are running out of steam at the same point in a book, then perhaps the text needs to be sent back to the author for tweaking… Unhappy readers of the first edition can be informed that there’s a freely downloadable New and Improved Version, which may induce them to give the book another try.

Will Alan Jacobs’ relsease early, iterate often theory transfer from software to books? In a way, digital publisher Coliloquay is already doing it.

Andrew Losowsky in The Huffington Post explains how Coliloquy leverages Amazon’s e-reader data to recreate choose your own adventure style fiction titles.

What most people haven’t realized is that the technology works two ways — as you make a choice in the story, Coliloquy’s books read you back. They send anonymized data about your decision, as well as about how often you have read a particular chapter, and which characters you have followed the most. They are the first third-party publisher to receive such data from Amazon. They surely won’t be the last.

Imaage courtesy of kodomut CC BY 2.0

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This is the future of the book, but not the one you were expecting.