The Beginning of the Road: Adventures in Digital Publishing

The following conversation with Lerner Digital master of ceremonies Adriano Fruzzetti may or may not have taken place yesterday.

Amy: So, Adriano, looks like after this week I won’t be doing your blog posts anymore. I’m about to get too important.

Adriano: Haha, nice one. Hey, check this out [REI]. One-stop shopping for your kitten’s adventure gear. How ’bout that tiny machete, eh?

Amy: First of all, you would never say “eh” in real life, so I’m clearly losing my edge in the Adriano-impersonation department. Secondly, I am not April Fooling you. This is really the end.

Adriano: WHAT? No. You don’t mean that.

Amy: Alas, I do. But before I leave to take up the editorial mantle, I’d like to thank you for everything you’ve taught me about digital publishing. Including…

If it ain’t broke, you’re not looking hard enough. Somewhere in that iBook is a page that doesn’t load, a Fun Tab link that’s misspelled, a text highlight color that blends in with the background. Seek out the errors with the doggedness of a Special Ops agent, and you shall be rewarded with…uh…better text highlight colors. I mean, QUALITY PRODUCTS. Behind the intimidating glamour of the most state-of-the-art gadgetry is good old-fashioned hard work–still the secret ingredient to success.

The thrill. The missions. The single-word playback.

Nothing is impossible. April 1st was a challenging day for digital publishing news junkies; it was hard to tell what was real and what had been made up as a joke. In this realm, the truth is often stranger than the most inventive sham memoir. If your instinct says “No way!” there’s at least a fifty percent chance that, well, “Way.” Which is part of what makes digital publishing so exciting. Demonstration: one of these links is a bit of April Foolery. Can you guess which one it is?

Teachers say, “Let’s just record all our lessons ahead of time and then play them in class.” [School Library Journal]
Introducing: the first organic eReader [The Digital Reader]
Digital publishing is about to be conquered by…the French. [PBS MediaShift]

It’s okay to be wrong. We’re all going to encounter new ideas, new tech, new methods that will explode everything we thought we knew about this industry. (Put another way: We’re all going to look back at blog posts we wrote a few months ago and cringe at how off-base we were.) The book business, especially the digital side of it, is a learning process for everyone, and our mistakes can enlighten and inspire us as much as anything we get right on the first try.

As Thomas Edison would say: “I found 100 ways not to make an eBook.
But I also found lots of ways to make an AWESOME eBook. SHAZAM.

We’re just getting started. Each week, the contents of this post have been no less a surprise to me than to you readers out there. I never knew ahead of time what I would discover, but I did know there would always be something new happening. This industry is an ongoing adventure–an open-ended story, if you will. I have no idea what’s next for digital publishing, and I can’t wait to find out.

We’re on a journey of discovery!
A journey that never ends! Even when dysentery strikes.

…So thanks, Adriano, for letting me hijack your blog posts and join this adventure.

Adriano: Well, you were no Me. But you did your best, buddy. Therefore I will not sic my machete-wielding kitten on you. For now.

And I leave you with a final web link: a French commercial that reminds us, in a universal language, that paper is not dead yet despite the many digital wonders at our fingertips [Vimeo].

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