Shaking off the Limitations of Paper

I’m not going to hide it, I follow every word Seth Godin says. To me his perspective on publishing since the launch of The Domino Project is revolutionary. If you don’t know about the project, go discover – both it and Seth.

However Seth speaks mainly from the perspective of non-fiction – it is the world he operates in. Me? I’m a fan, but of fiction. His words still apply.

The title of this post, ‘shaking off the limitations of paper’, is inspired by Seth’s recent post and it is one that I have also considered.

We writers, do our art with the form in mind: should we? Form, is now evolving. We have the choice to be physical and printed, or invisible and digital. With ‘digital’, we are not limited by print costs, tomb size (is it too heavy to carry around?) or is it flimsy and not worth the money? Currently, I, like you, weigh up the price value with the size value: 200 pages for £25 is steep; 200 pages for £2.99 is cheap. Digital still has that attachment and association in our heads. I believe writers still think with print in mind.

I am taught to write that 200-300 page novel is ‘about right’. 1000 pages is too much.

This is a limitation of my peers and guides – the story is the most important thing, the size and weight is now irrelevant, the pricing to match that operational cost is not part of the production equation either.

In traditional publishing, 1200 pages may mean a trilogy is required – because of print costs and shelf space. Digital doesn’t have that issue.

If The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, for example, was only digital – there is no need to split the book into 3. You may argue that the split is as much a financial marketing decision, than a physical manufacturing marketing decision, and I agree, but I believe in time, the constraints of ‘size’ big or small will disappear – and self publishing authors will lead that change.


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