Appification of Books? Closing the gap between blogs and books.

Today was one of those days, where I received a short email from a company and a stream of ideas came rushing to my head! Did you ever have one of those moments?

Let’s start from the beginning: Being a long-term blogger (been blogging about 5 years now on different topics) I do get a good amount of books sent to me to review on my blog. Though this is the first time, someone (finally!) offered to send me an ELECTRONIC version of a book (I don’t even know if there’s a printed version out there). And the content format will be slightly different, the authors will include some facts, opinions and ideas for the future – all rolled into one. But the length will be less than a regular book.

Then I re-visited an idea I had a year or two ago: That sometimes I just don’t bother reading long books until the end (if it’s not good, why bother?) – so I’m more careful when choosing a book with 400+ pages. But when it’s a medium-sized book, maybe 100-200 pages, I wouldn’t mind taking a chance. They’re usually just a few bucks (or Euros) and it would take a few hours or a few days to read. Often you can order it online, it arrives a minute later – instant gratification, baby!

Software

But: Isn’t this similar to what we’re seeing in software? We’re spending less and less on huge software, we’re not going to stores anymore to buy the big boxes which includes a few DVDs and a few papers and instructions – sometimes the software costs 30 dollars, sometimes 500 dollars. And sometimes we find out afterwards it’s not even compatible with our device. But instead, we’re buying specialized apps that do a few things really well – this could be “find friends near my current location” or “tweet this” or even just a fun game of “cut the rope”. We don’t analyze the game in-depth before we buy it, because the software doesn’t cost 500 dollars anymore, but rather we take a chance by spending 2 or 4 dollars on a software which is instantly delivered and which you can directly play… uhm, I meant WORK with on your device.

When thinking about it, I’ve only read a few books that were 500+ pages long in the last few years. One was where a guy inherited 1 trillion dollars out of nowhere and now his whole life revolves around: “What should I spend it on? What can I do with this, when even the interest on it is more than I can spend?” Another book was about a story where suddenly we ran out of oil and the whole financial system (and most of the infrastructure, in fact) collapses. Those stories got me hooked (admittedly, these are not textbooks). But I also started 4-5 other long books which I never bothered finishing. But I did buy many books that focused on a few concepts that I wanted to read about and that were less than 150 pages long. E.g. on simplifying your lifestyle / minimalism, making your webpage better, website laws & regulations, how to consume more sustainably. Some were free, some cost 2 to 15 dollars. But most were still in the price range where it wouldn’t hurt me too much in case the book was awful.

What’s in store

Perhaps in the current online-networked world it’s a bit more difficult to focus on a long book. Or perhaps we just don’t want to take a big chance and spend 40 bucks on a book we end up disliking (or worse, feel indifferent about). I think there will be a place for these longer books – but I also think shorter books or very, very long blog texts will get more market share. And with the technology available, it shouldn’t be too hard to rather split a long text-book into 5 smaller books and link to each other. So instead of writing a big book on “Becoming a better photographer” which cost 40 dollars, you would have small books such as “Camera settings and working with your lens”, “Composing an image” and “Post-Production Photography” which cost 15 dollars and link them to each other. So if a person has one book, they can easily purchase another book if they want to go deeper into a specific subject.

What do you think? Will the appification of books go into the mainstream? What kind of books / texts do you buy these days?

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