Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Growth of Fantasy Ebooks

I love how markets work, the facts and figures that you can find in regards to product segments, their trends, strategies and their implementation. So it's of no wonder that I have had a quick search around to see what is happening in the world of ebooks and in particular with the growth to the fantasy genera.

As a brief overview there are really only two distinct camps with regards to the ebook phenomenon. Firstly are those who see this format as a waste of effort and energy to invest in, primary amongst those is the CEO of Apple Steve Jobs who has surmised his opinion as realistically people don’t read any more and as such it’s not worth investing time into developing. An interesting side note is that the Apple iphone is now going to have a kindle application on it, so an about face or simply a prudent business decision? I would like to believe the latter rather than the former as to me, and seemingly the vast majority of people who are writing on this topic, what we need to be providing is new technologically based formats for reading thus it’s about delivering a user-friendly platform or platforms to bring people back to the written word and as such you can see this as happening and it will continue to do so as this type of work becomes more widely available. Thus with the release of kindle2 in the EU and now the kindle application on the iphone we will see an increased number of people once again picking up written works.

On the other side of the coin are of course advocates such as myself who do believe that this format has longevity, flexibility and also a future. When you look at some basic facts there is great growth in the ebook format but what I personally found exciting was that the fantasy genera is actually one of the largest if not the largest segment in the market. There are actually a few good reasons for that, one is of course the large amount of content available, of which you can get some good works and some average works, as discussed in a previous post I do believe that our choice could still be expanded with the introduction of major works to the medium. Secondly is the technically savvy nature of fantasy fans. This alone allows for a greater introduction of titles to the genera as we are more likely to be picking up ebooks to read than other social demographics.

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

When Enough Is Enough

We all love a good series of books, they are rewarding as you read them and should not only be satisfying at their end but should leave you with a passion that makes you want to talk about them with your mates. Personally I love those discussions where you and your friends have all read a series, have your own favourite characters and enjoyed particular parts of the books and relive the book and those moments when you talk about it. But the question I raise here when is enough enough and does this notion impact on fantasy ebooks?

It is a rarity to find a fantasy book that is not part of a series and this is for a range of good reasons, which include both tradition and demands from publishers but to me you do need to have a good length to a story, part of why you pick up a written work is to get immersed into the land, the characters and their plight. I really do not see that happening in just a single story, for me if I enjoy a world that has been created I want to expand my experience in the land and become a part of it and that means more than one episode. I have read a couple of what I term short books from the Forgotten Realms series put out by TSR, in the old days, but they were supplements to series for example fleshing out the history of a particular character or providing some short stories of parts of the world that I was already familiar with from reading other series, thus I already had an exposure to the storyline, without it I do not believe that these stories would have been as enjoyable.

So from a reader’s perspective I fully believe that a multi-book series is a positive aspect to my enjoyment of a writer, their world and their characters but it can be taken too far. Recently some friends and I were having an email conversation regarding a new MMO that was being developed using Robert Jordan's 'Wheel of Time’ series and one of my mates put forward this rather frank view, “I bet [the game will] never be finished just the like the series. Actually I can see it being just like the [written] series, and most other MMO's, where the first levels (and books) are awesome with atmosphere galore and then it becomes a tedious go nowhere grind fest. The author died before finishing the series possibly because after the millionth wasted subplot line his brain exploded.”

From a writers and creators perspective I love the idea of letting people become more attached to what I create, for to me it’s about creating that engagement, letting you all experience the joy, good times and fun that I have had not only in developing but also gaming in the world that I have created. It’s a chance to give something to you all. So for me it’s about the story that you create, the world that you develop, and providing it succinctly rather than draw it out. Kerry Packer was a media magnate in Australia and his network was the most successful in that country because he founded it on what was actually good media rather than drawn out rubbish, the world of writers should look to do the same.

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