A more open and graphic approach to ebooks from the Guardian
The Guardian Shorts range of ebooks has got a competition running at the moment asking for user submissions into the range. According to the blog post that launched it, the aim of the ‘Protest!’ essay writing competition is as follows:
“There are lots of writing competitions out there of course. What makes our one different? Well, we want to properly take that idea of user-generated content and integrate it into our publishing programme. The winning entry will be published in the Guardian Shorts series of ebooks. It will have all the same marketing and promotion as any other title, and we will split the revenue 50/50 with the author.
In a way, book publishing has always been about UGC – publishers receive pitches from independent writers, and then work with them. We are simply taking this further and opening up the access for anybody who wants to write within the broad brief. Publishing digitally allows us to work within shorter forms of writing that are more suited to exploring a single issue or giving a personal account of an event.”
It is an interesting move. For some time I’ve argued that traditional news publishing businesses are going to have to move more into the realm of being open commissioning houses than places with a lot of full-time employees. The power these established organisations bring is as much about having an existing audience and set of brand values as it is about being able to stump up monthly pay cheques.
The competition is being advertised in the Guardian’s print editions, using the striking new cover designs for the Guardian Shorts ebooks range.
When I worked on the project I was very much in favour of the generic colour-coded typographic led approach, which helped to drive down production costs on what is a low margin business. And I regret not making a stronger case that the sleeves should have also carried series numbers, encouraging readers to collect the set.
However, having seen the new designs for the books that I wrote or edited about the Olympics, Doctor Who, Facebook and the “Battle for the Internet”, I have to say the new graphic approach is much more striking, and I whole-heartedly approve.
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