As Deke and I (mostly Deke) face our exhaustion at finishing up another round of One-on-One books, it seems like it might be a good time to contemplate the future of print. And who better to have around for this discussion than our friend and Chief Curator of Safari Books Online, Mark Brokering. Mark’s job is to obtain content, like…oh, One-on-One books, for the online subscription delivery system that allows you to read any book or part thereof in the entire library, from your computer (or perhaps soon alternate electronic device.) What does this kind of service indicate for the future of books? And is there a difference between fiction and the kick-ass kind of tutorial based teaching Deke does. And before we get too ponderous, will someone mix up some cocktails?
Don’t be scared, the future is challenging, interesting, and might include reading in hover crafts. In the meantime, here’s the rundown on this week’s conversation:
Books (and other meda) aren’t really solving the real-time reference problem, because not only do we want it now, but in many cases we actually need it now because other people want our work now.
- The average length of time on Safari for someone to sit and read is 12-18 minutes. Does that mean they clearly don’t digest this material in full-length book chunks?
- What about the lost of highly crafted indexes? Is search really as good?
- If the flash-based rendering of the page is more or less animated PDF, then do we have to lay out the book anyway? Why is it still in the shape of a book?
- What will publishers do with work that is organic to rich media, i.e. it’s never lived as a book or even thought about being one?
- Do you guys like reading other people’s comments? I find them distracting and less-than-useful. Can you think of scenarios where they really help work get done?
- What’s going to happen to the great writers, who are doing just as much work and brining just as much talent to their craft regardless of the media in which it arrives?
- How do editors change their brains? How do you identify talent for new mediums?
I can’t quite explain how this episode makes me significantly dizzy and inspired at the same time. And it’s not from the gin. But take a listen, and let us know what you think about the future. Here’s the regular-quality audio file. You can stream, or for best results, right-click and choose Download or Save. Here’s the high-res version; you’ll want to download rather than stream. And don’t forget our usual plea to subscribe via iTunes.
Thanks for the inspiring and invigorating conversation Mark. Cheers.