By Edward Nawotka
In today’s lead story about Neal Stephenson’s The Mongoliad, writer Michael Bhaskar asserts that the projects represents “the next business model for publishing.” The project enlisted a team of top writers, working with computer programmers and business development personnel, to create an elaborate and sophisticated ‘verse in what, ultimately, amounts to an open-ended “conversation” with readers. Unlike a book, readers help to shape the story with the authors, thus giving them an immediate stake in the story. What’s more, readers pay $10 a year subscription fee for the privilege.
Subscription models are increasingly popular in publishing, though they are often tied to a static framework — whether it’s a regular mailing of a publishers output or access to an online database of work. This is different in so far as it offers access to a dynamic range of content, which can morph and develop according to the markets demands and is itself open ended. The model is closer to that of online gaming than traditional publishing.
So, tell us, do you think that dynamic, online storytelling offers a viable long-term business model and publishers? Will it work for more conventional story lines or it is largely a phenomena for the realm of fantasy, science fiction and adventure — genres that have always done well in games? Or can publishers take lessons from The Mongoliad and the success of games that tackle more prosaic topics, such as FarmVille and The Sims, and apply them to even more story lines?
Let us know what you think in the comments.