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The Digital Innovator Interviews: James Bridle on E-books, Google, and “The Long Prose Curse”

• The latest in our series of interviews with digital innovators from the UK features James Bridle — a publisher, e-book evangelist and literary entrepreneur.

• “There’s still an incredible lack of understanding about e-books,” says Bridle, “and the people who are doing the educating are Apple and Amazon, which means they are taking the market very quickly and we’re kind of letting them do that.”

Interview by Ramy Habeeb

LONDON: James Bridle is impossible to classify and if he hands you a business card, you might be surprised that it merely states his name with the instruction to “search.” He is a publisher, writer and artist based in London, UK. He founded the print-on-demand classics press Bookkake and the e-book-only imprint Artists’ eBooks, and created Bkkeepr, a tool for tracking reading and sharing bookmarks, and Quietube, an accidental anti-censorship proxy for the Middle East. He has helped to developed a range of innovative literary projects, including the Enhanced Editions e-reader, the Golden Notebook online and Granta.com. He makes things with words, books and the internet, and writes about what he does at booktwo.org.

His most recent project is a twelve-volume limited edition documenting every edit made to a single Wikipedia article, The Iraq War, during the five years between the article’s inception in December 2004 and November 2009, a total of 12,000 changes and almost 7,000 pages.

Here he talks about “the long prose curse,” Google Book Search and where the e-book industry is headed.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wZZN7a_6g8

Concerning e-books he says, “There’s still a reluctance in the industry to give them their own space. They are still subsidiary to the traditional book forms… There still an incredible lack of understanding about them and the people who are doing the educating are Apple and Amazon, which means they are taking the market very quickly and we’re kind of letting them do that.” He adds, “At the moment I don’t know how to buy and e-book from a publisher. In various parts of Europe, Sweden and Germany in particular, there are organizations that group all the e-books from publishers and I don’t know why we’re not doing that in the English-speaking world.”

Bridle will be speaking as part of the Tools of Change conference at the Frankfurt Book Fair on the topic of “Representations of the Book at the Moment.”

DISCUSS: How Could Traditional Publishers Benefit from More Experimentation?

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2 Comments

  1. Posted September 22, 2010 at 3:17 am | Permalink

    Concerning e-books he says, “There’s still a reluctance in the industry to give them their own space.

    Hell, newspapers won’t even review trade paperbacks, to a great extent. I was thrilled that my publisher (with all that’s been going on in the economy), put out my book “I SEE RUDE PEOPLE” as a $16.95 trade paperback (no hardcover at all)…until I learned that there’s still this prejudice that worthwhile books are released in hardcover first.

  2. bob
    Posted September 24, 2010 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Worthwhile books are released in hardcover first. If a publisher isn’t willing to print hardcovers that should tell you something about how much they think of your work.

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