Is publishing “dying”? On FutureBook, Vicky Hartley expresses doubt. She points to a number of great new multimedia apps on tablets that demonstrate some publishers are finding ways to use the new capabilities of tablets to reach out to readers better than ever before. Heuristic Media’s London – A City Through Time is one example, and the works of children’s book-based-app publisher Nosy Crow are another.
I’ll admit to being rather impressed by the trailer on London’s website, but I think it might be a bit premature to generalize from just a few book-related apps like this to the entire publishing industry. While interactivity might be great for non-fiction works that seek to cover a particular subject in extremely detailed scope, or for illustrated children’s works that also serve as learning tools, it’s not going to do anything for the fiction market.
But on the other hand, perhaps I’m being too specific. Hartley’s overall thesis seems to be that there are plenty of opportunities for publishing to adapt and survive to the new technological world in general. There’s no reason the opportunities for fiction publishers should necessarily look anything at all like those for non-fiction or children’s books.
Of course, the question remains whether publishers actually will take advantage of those opportunities. The bigger houses haven’t seemed that eager to do so so far. On the other hand, smaller operations like Baen and O’Reilly have been innovating for years.