No matter how fast you think technology is moving, it's probably moving faster. When we started Atavist, it was to fill gaps we thought existed in digital publishing -- for a certain kind of book, and a certain kind of highly-designed digital reading experience. The speed with which others followed us into those gaps, and pushed those ideas to places that frankly we hadn't predicted at the beginning, continues to surprise us. And this year has seen changes that even last year we wouldn't have anticipated.
Technological disruption in the publishing industry has opened the doors to innovation. Here, four startups share their insights on reinventing book publishing.
We asked some of our favorite thinkers in the publishing world: "What trends will shape the industry in 2014?" Here's what they had to say.
Here's a cool twist in payment models for long-form content: Trendy online eyeglasses company Warby Parker is sponsoring an e-single at publishing startup The Atavist. Through the partnership, you can read Joshuah Bearman's "Coronado High" free on the web for a month. It's normally $2.99.
"We worked with Warby to build some really cool interactive sponsorship integration into the story design," Atavist cofounder and CEO Evan Ratliff told me. "It's a first. We're taking a piece of long-form content and letting an advertiser sponsor the ability for readers to get it for free."
Atavist, a multimedia storytelling platform which launched in January 2011, has received acclaim for its unique mix of longform journalism and an innovative content management system. In fact, the company has already received high-profile investment backing from the likes of Marc Andreessen and Google's Eric E. Schmidt. Co-founder, CEO and editor Evan Ratliff says: "We are this kind of hybrid outfit in that we're not solely focused on software or publishing. We are a media and a software company."
This media/software combo wasn't in the original plan. The initial goal was to be an innovator in the space called longform journalism, pieces of 5,000 to 30,000 words meant to be read in one sitting. "We started as an outfit that just wanted to do publishing, and a certain type of publishing: These short [pieces] between book and magazine [length]," says Ratliff — books that would be "multimedia" and "enhanced." "In order to that, we ended up developing our own publishing software to publish to multiple devices at the same time."
Two powerful entertainment moguls, Scott Rudin, the film and theater producer, and Barry Diller, the chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp, are joining together to enter the turbulent world of book publishing.
Mr. Rudin and Frances Coady, a longtime publishing executive, have formed a partnership with Mr. Diller in a new venture called Brightline. It will publish e-books and eventually physical books in a partnership with Atavist, a publisher based in Brooklyn with expertise in producing electronic books and articles.