The Los Angeles Times has joined the ranks of newspapers and magazines that have begun publishing expanded versions of popular articles as e-books. Today it released a 99-cent Kindle, Nook, and iBooks e-book called A Nightmare Made Real.
The book recounts the story of Las Vegas banker Louis Gonzalez III who was accused of kidnapping and raping the mother of his child, and the investigation his defense attorney and an investigator mounted to clear his name. It incorporates material from a two-part Los Angeles Times article, as well as expanded profiles of the people involved.
It’s not clear how long the e-book is; the Kindle e-book file is 155KB, so I’m guessing it might be around 60,000 to 80,000 words. Not a “full-length” work by any means, but for that sort of in-depth reporting a 99-cent price sounds just about right.
On Publishing Perspectives, Erin L. Cox wonders if newspapers publishing e-books based on their stories might somehow “thwart” book publishers, since a lot of non-fiction titles that end up with publishers originally started out as newspaper articles the way this one did.
I’m not sure I can really see it having that big of an impact, though; most of the “Kindle Single” style e-books (including the LA Times’s entry) are too short to be published as “real” books. And given the relatively small number of these e-books being published so far, compared to the total non-fiction output of the Big Six, I suspect they don’t have anything to worry about just yet.
I agree that this kind of book is not at all comparable to “real” books. However, this is yet another reading-offer to consumers not offered by traditional publishers – and it is a format/length that suits the mobility of e-readers just perfect. So even though the impact on the Big Six is limited so far – I agree – this is another “attack” that traditional publishers have to deal with. Very interesting!
Well, a lot of current affairs books are little more than overly padded and fluffily-formatted to start with.
One (necessary) publishing format that traditional publishers have disposed of over the years is the pamphlet because it didn’t fit their economic model. Just as ebooks allow novels to grow as long as the story requires they also allow non-fiction reporting and essays to be only as long as the material requires.
Newspapers have long published special inserts and dedicated editions in times of critical events but they have been constrained by the economics of print and their self-imposed news cycle constraints. As they experiment with online and ebook publishing they’ll likelly find they’ve been leaving easy money on the table and that they should be doing more work on long-form reporting and on serially-updating news tracking via ebook/pamplets and dedicated online blogs that can then be condensed into updatable ebooks.
Newspapers have a lot of “overhead” that could be producing unique and monetizable content that isn’t being properly exploited past the daily news cycle. Eventually the ones that do figure it out will have a better chance at long term survival than the ones that choose to live or die with newsprint.