I had occasion to mention Atavist Books in March of this year. when it launched with the novella Sleep Donation and proclaimed its intention to “revolutionize book publishing” with interactive multimedia books. At the time, I expressed my doubts that anybody actually wanted the platform it was building.
It seems that events have borne out my supposition. Saying that it’s found “the market for highly innovative enhanced full length literary e-books still heavily relies on a print component and has yet to emerge,” Atavist Books has announced it will be closing down its e-book-publishing operation as of the end of 2014, folding its assets into sibling company IAC and its magazine-publishing partner The Atavist. The Atavist, which just closed a new round of funding last week, will carry on.
I suppose I could take some small degree of satisfaction in saying “I told you so,” but I don’t, really. The only way new things get invented is for people to go out there and try them, even if other people (like me) think they’re dumb. I’ve been wrong before, plenty of times, and so has everyone else. I would have been happy to be wrong now.
We need more people out there trying new things, now more than ever. After all, whatever new gimmick eventually disrupts Amazon is going to have to come from somewhere.