« Discussion

Which Transmedia Practices are Best Suited to Traditional Publishing?

story book

By Edward Nawotka

Transmedia is more than a fad and is becoming an popular storytelling option for content creators. Many believe that book publishing can no longer operate in a silo and must conceive of new stories with transmedia practices in mind right from scratch.

At SXSW Interactive several panels offered ideas of how publishers can extension of traditional storytelling — either in print, audio, or online. This can range from launching Facebook and Twitter profiles for fictional characters, to creating entire alternate online storylines, films or, as discussed in today’s feature story, alternate reality games.

Each new platform requires specific skill sets. It often takes the sometimes slow-moving publishing industry years to incorporate innovations that have been adopted by other media industries. And once you start producing films and games you’re moving away from the core competencies of traditional publishing.

Building skill sets that can produce multiplatform transform stories will take time. So, which transmedia practices are best suited for traditional publishing to adopt now or in the near future?

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  1. Posted March 16, 2011 at 5:29 am | Permalink

    Seriously, what kind of vague BS is this?

  2. Posted March 16, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    No, I believe this is an important question, but probably way ahead of its time: traditional publishing is by definition “traditional” – meaning conservative and with a tendency to look back and not forward to the future. Therefore, these ARGs (a very unfortunate sounding word…) are clearly not going to be for them.

    Also, a good ARG (hum, can’t get used to this word…) will require an author capable of extending his book plot into the world of virtual games – not a given, by any means, even though fiction writers are notoriously imaginative people. But ARGs require different skills they may not have, and demands time and attention from them that they may not wish to give (authors are always busy writing their next novel, right?)

    So, I think it’ll take a very long time before we see traditional publishers going argh….

  3. Posted March 16, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    This comes across vague because it’s taking an incredibly shallow approach to a pretty complex approach regarding storytelling and entertainment.

    But it’s important to note that while transmedia storytelling (the short answer is telling a story or a set of stories in a shared world across multiple platforms and mediums) will increase in popularity, it will not fully replace mono-media content (e.g., I just want to read a book and not also play the game or watch the TV show).

    Though I agree with Claude, I believe the publishers who embrace the world-building approach to content that transmedia storytelling requires will edge out their competition in the long run. The best transmedia storytelling allows audiences to dig as shallow or as deep as they like into a storyworld, and it makes that storyworld accessible for the audiences by reaching out to them (think mobile).

    This provides additional revenue streams, marketing opportunities, and the ability to reach audiences in other mediums (I may not want to read the book, but I will play the video game).

    And, to be honest, we’re still figuring out what transmedia storytelling is, where the boundaries lie, and what the best models are for engagement. It’s a fun time to be in this space, both for creators and audiences.

  4. david
    Posted March 17, 2011 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    Show me a transmedia bestseller, and i’ll show you a publisher. oh wait . . .

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