Crowdsourcing seems to be the latest publishing trend, with two of the biggest giants, Amazon and Penguin launching new schemes to get readers more involved.
The two companies have within days of each other announced new projects that play on the idea of reader interaction in very different ways.
Penguin are opting for the more creative path, breaking the usual confines of publishing ownership rules by saying to readers, “Here’s all the content, do with it what you will!” Inspired by Stephen Fry’s 2010 autobiography The Fry Chronicles, which won countless awards for its innovation, Penguin are seeking to push the possibilities of interactive publishing even further.
The Fry Chronicles App 2010 – Penguin
Working alongside Creative Commons guidelines, Fry’s next memoir instalment More Fool Me, (also published by Penguin) will be accessible in multiple media formats, from text to audio. Anyone can come to it to create and publish their own mash-ups and creative interpretations. This will result in not one final end product, but a limitless number invented by imaginative fans and readers.
Amazon are taking a slightly different approach and are using crowdsourcing to find new talent, rather than change the end product like Penguin and Fry. In an X-factor style competition, Amazon are asking aspiring writers to submit their work with the promise that the best-reviewed publication will be published and sold on Amazon. As a little incentive to get people reviewing the submitted books, Amazon will give each reviewer of the winning title a free digital edition.
One downfall with this project could be the re-emergence of the Amazon hack, a trend that’s been circulating for a few years. The hack isn’t really a hack at all, it’s just a way of breaking Amazons review system and having a fun. Trolls will go onto Amazon, find the strangest or the most boring product they possibly can and give it a funny/inappropriate/passive-aggressive review.
Trolls must be considered by Amazon during the creation of this crowdsourcing competition: all it takes is one post on a forum (home of the trolls) and they could be playing into their hands, and end up publishing a very strange book indeed.
Is crowdsourcing the future?
Indie publishers have been crowdsourcing for a while now; it’s nothing new, but now the big dogs are in on the game it will be interesting to see how crowdsourcing will develop. It seems a natural route to go down; giving consumers more control will inevitably make them happy and help publishers learn about the latest trends and consumers needs.
Keep an eye on both Penguin and Amazon’s projects, get involved yourself and let us know what you think by tweeting us or commenting below. We’ll make sure to get in on the action too and share our experiences.