Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Multimedium publishing and the future of the literary press (Part 3)

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Part 3: The past + The future = The present

If I may elaborate please. You've made it this far into my diatribe (Yay!). I promise that if what I'm saying does not make sense yet, it will soon. First, let's look at the past creative literature press.

Print as craft still exists. For instance, publishers using lithographic presses are around. Formats like poetry cards, and chapbooks still exist. In the more recent past we have the introduction of e-books, and audiobooks. We also have the introduction of online video book advertising. They generally suck, but they can grab the attention of someone scanning through press releases.

The future? Most likely a paperless press. Paper is a limited commodity. The present? Is a mishmash of both, but it does give us clues into where the near future of creative writing publishing will lead, and finally, how the path to more government funding for publishers and creating a system needing less assistance from government funding merge.

Wow. I don't know where to start. Let's look at the structure of the perfect multimedium publisher. Only the biggest conglomerate presses that support literary work will be this vertical:

Print – poetry cards, chapbooks (regional distribution), books
E-readers – e-books (including digital only titles), multimedia e-books (exclusively digital titles)
Audio – audiobooks, spoken-word albums
Video – book commercials, content for e-books, short films

Marketing – Physical book tours, virtual book tours, websites, publisher's smartphone/tablet app

Apps are the key to create this vertical system. In the near future the reputation of a press will be tied to the amount of people who subscribe to their app. Maybe it's a paid app that gives you the opportunity to get free e-books, and coupons for their physical products, or a free app that offers readers the chance to purchase a book first, or on sale. Either way, apps give publishers the opportunity to communicate directly with their consumers. It is only a matter of time before all publishers have a unique app for their company.

You may be asking, why are short films part of the future for presses? I see it as a natural progression of what is already going on with book promotion. The first Youtube video promos for books that I discovered were for self-published titles. It works. You can add a video link to a books' press release, it puts a face to a book. In a world that has become less about using our imagination it adds a visual element. Furthermore, even if you have 500 books in stores, and books in multiple libraries Youtube (or Vimeo) can still reach more people.

Here's the thing, as much as I enjoy the sexy nerd-girl wearing glasses, naked in her bath tub, surrounded by candles and strategically placed bubbles promoting her new book about a romantic tryst, a slightly more professional video would work better.

If you have the equipment, and you have the means, why not open additional revenue streams? Shorts can be content for e-books. The same equipment could be used to produce a documentary, content for a Youtube page that gets advertising revenue, or even short films sent to festivals.

The more revenue streams you open, the more government grant opportunities become available. Hence, this is where both paths meet.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Dane Swan

Dane Swan is a Bermuda-raised, Toronto-based internationally published poet, writer and musician. His first collection, Bending the Continuum was launched by Guernica Editions in the Spring of 2011.

Go to Dane Swan’s Author Page