Do you remember choose-your-own adventure stories? They were the ones so prevalent in middlegrade book series (go Goosebumps!) where you got to pick if the heroine was going to jump the fence into the carnival (turn to page 15), or if she was going to play it safe and head home (turn to the next page).
Books with a choose-your-own-adventure structure allowed their readers a level of control not normally associated with the one-way communicative style of reading. With the explosion of digital publishing, the idea of collaborative books is also gaining traction. Choose-your-own-adventure stories very well may become write your own adventures in the future, as readers are invited to contribute to ebooks on an ongoing basis.
Terry Jones writes on the innovative concept in his chapter, “Why Digital Books Will Become Writeable,” in the book A Futurist’s Manifesto by Hugh McGuire and Brian O’Leary. Terry, the founder and CTO of Fluidinfo, demonstrates how the future of digital publishing may be found in this collaborative writing and editing model of the ebook, a la Wikipedia.
Jones writes, “Such a program could easily request and display opinions, ratings, annotations and page numbers your friends are up to. It could provide definitions, translations, footnotes, extra images, links, and the like. Additional information can be independently tagged onto the same underlying objects by other applications, with the ‘book’ being rebuilt or updated dynamically as needed.”
Crowd-sourced funding for books is already a reality. Organizations like PUBLSUSH Press, IndieGoGo, and Kickstarter have been getting a great amount of attention for their unique financial models in which fans get to vote and donate to books they support. They’ve been enjoying much success, too; Rich Burlew, author of the webcomic, “Order of the Stick,” recently raised $1.25 million for his project on Kickstarter—the only book project in the site’s history to surpass the $1 million mark.
What do you think? Are writeable ebooks the future of digital publishing? Would you buy them? And, more importantly, would you contribute to them? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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Tired of boring old two-dimensional printing? Think that printing on paper is something that should be relegated to the musty confines of your grandma’s house? Your printing ennui may soon be cured, my tech-forward friend!
3D printing has made major headway in the past few years, with several new developments occurring this month alone (solar-powered glass printing, anyone?). The technology allows for objects to be designed and printed with exact proportions in customizable form. Check out this video to see a 3D printer in action.
Prototypes of gear can be developed and accurately tested with 3D printing; Chevy recently used rapid prototyping to design their Volt extended-range car parts. Researchers anticipate that the medical industry will also heavily utilize 3D printing. Creating printed, personalized replacement organs is a projected use, along with drug therapy, according to Autodesk’s CTO, Jeff Kowalsky.
The smallest available 3D printer, developed at the Vienna University of Technology, is about the size of a milk carton and costs $1,750—but that number is expected to drop as 3D printing becomes more widespread. The design software is already available to the average Joe; Autodesk’s 123D software is available for free use on Windows machines.
3D printing enthusiasts hope that the technology will bring in a new tide of American creativity, causing professionals at Forbes to predict that the industry will revive manufacturing in this country.
“This has the potential to remake the economics of manufacturing from a large-scale industry back to an artisan model of small design shops with access to 3D printers,” wrote Forbes’ Rich Karlgaard.
And one of the first found uses for this revolutionary technology? Copyright infringement, of course! Fans have already utilized 3D printing technology to recreate movie props and costumes. Techland reported that Paramount recently delivered a Cease and Desist letter to a superfan hoping to print 3D Super 8 cubes only eighteen hours after he posted the design on the Web.
But will 3D printing have a place in the publishing world? The popularization of the technology might be a great way to add interactivity to books—a definite plus in a society that loves to interact. Technical books used in architecture or engineering classrooms could have customizable prototypes that the students could test and alter.
Were home 3D printers to become ubiquitous, children’s books could come with printable games or puzzles, and fantasy books could be accompanied by printable props. And since 3D printing documents are fully customizable, readers could also potentially print books in their preferred trims and font sizes.
Whether or not 3D printing will have any impact on the book publishing industry is yet to be seen. Regardless, we’re pretty sure it will have an impact on our waistline—researchers at Exeter University recently perfected printed chocolate.
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Whether it's the upward trend of e-book sales, the growth of indie publishers, or the changes surrounding brick-and-mortar retailers, one thing is for certain--times they are a-changin'. Our very own Clint Greenleaf speaks to WritersCast.com about the current conditions and how things may change in the future. Read the article or listen to the broadcast here.
Are e-book trends sustainable? Will you ever part with your print books? Are authors starting to favor alternative publishing options over the traditional deal? Let us know what you think!