It’s a metamorphosis of the media. Book publishers with ad-supported content models traditionally donned by magazine publishers. Magazine publishers broadcasting live event coverage on their Web sites, and traditional broadcast news media directing consumers to their Web sites for supplemental content.
The newest development on this front opens up a whole new can of worms. Amazon.com has crossed over into traditional media territory with its first online, video entertainment talk show. And I realized that not only is the media blurring into one behemoth information-blob, but the boundaries that separate the media from the rest of the world are even beginning to disappear.
Amazon.com officially launched its new weekly talk show—the “Amazon Fishbowl with Bill Maher”—online in May. The summer program features interviews with big names (like Stephen King, who was on the pilot episode) in film, music, literature and television.
Will it help lure the video-addicted into the world of books? Will the public buy into a program hosted by a company that’s selling the products being featured? Will the fact that says-what-he-thinks Bill Maher is involved legitimize the program? Will it begin to spawn a reality-show-like craze of retailers-turned-talk-show producers? Will Dennis Miller be hosting a fall show on Wal-Mart’s Web site? Will Catherine Zeta-Jones host a talk show aired on T-Mobile customers’ cellular phones? Or, will the “Fishbowl” just come and go without much of a fuss? Only time will tell.
Romancing the Cell
While cell phone users may have to wait for their first video talk show, they don’t have to wait for a little romance. Saucy-story king Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. has a new mobile application that pushes content out to readers via cell phones. Subscribers to Harlequin On the Go are charged $2.49 a month and receive a new chapter daily.
Mobile books, or m-books, have picked up some momentum in several foreign locales, including Australia, the UK, Japan and Germany, but Harlequin’s endeavor marks the first mainstream-market book-push in the United States.
While I can’t imagine curling up on the couch with a glass of wine and my cell phone, I have to admit that reading a chapter of a novel on a tiny screen was less annoying than I anticipated. I can imagine downloading a novel on the train or in a waiting room, where I hate to be caught without a book. (Though reading a few paragraphs is certainly different than reading a novel—can you imagine reading a book like “Anna Karenina” or “The Fountainhead” on a tiny screen?!)
Who knows, maybe you’ll soon be able to read Book Business on your cell phones. Or maybe we’ll host an online talk show interviewing publishers. Actually, that’s not a bad idea … stay tuned.