Publishing: You and Stephen Fry could create the future of book consumption.

You never know! You now have the opportunity to use Fry’s work as the base for a project without restrictions; the publisher is firmly placing control in the hands of the consumer to see where it goes. Who knows? Someone out there could team Fry’s work with astounding innovation and come up with a new way of consumption. There may also be some fun remixes in the process.

As a general fan of books, you’re drawn to new ideas – things that stand out, that try something a little new and just try treat the book a little differently. Penguin has never been one to shy away from trying the unexpected in their promotion (see: do it yourself book covers), and Stephen Fry has never been one to shirk technology (he’s one of Twitter’s finest, to say the least), so this new foray into new territory seems fun.

Though, as a new Publishing Masters student, keeping on top of new trends in publishing is important, this stands out because it’s actively engaging and (maybe this is a bit sad?) kind of cool! Stephen Fry is a great person to trial this sort of promotion with, and it’ll be interesting to see what comes of it.

One of their more ambitious projects, this sees Penguin release free content from Fry’s new memoir More Fool Me and his previous Fry Chronicles. They want to encourage “creative disobedience”, tech-mash ups and general anarchy on when it comes to traditional book consumption. For years advances have sought to protect the work – you buy it, you have it, that’s it – this breaks down barriers with limitless possibilities to the most creative of consumers.

Nathan Hull, Digital Product Development  Director, sought to capitalise both on the hype of Fry’s work and his sheer presence on social media without replicating his past app successes. His rationale was, “Let’s see what people out there come up with. Let’s open source the content and see where it takes us.”

Events will occur in accordance with the release across the continents in labs and libraries, and fans are encouraged to translate the text – released thematically: friendship, mental health, etc – from English as they see fit. The challenge is to present the work in this new way and see where it can be taken, no matter how literal or abstract.

Though this is merely for fun, there will be a panel (including Stephen Fry himself) to recognize the most innovative entries with a Penguin Fry Innovation Award).

Why is it interesting though? For years, we as consumers have been given a book to read and that’s exactly what we do. Once in a while one will come along that provokes the urge to create art, reproduce it in some way, do something – but rarely is dismantling a text encouraged, if ever. This is without rules, and looks set to dismantle those stricter parameters that seem to come with consuming. Adapting to the tech world, opening it up to consumers and making it more interactive and responsive – it’s definitely completely innovative.

Original article: With Stephen Fry, Penguin Crowdsources Future of the Book | Publishing Perspectives

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