Deb: The Book, Reimagined

Short Editions vending machine dispenses a story. Image:
I’ve become rather notorious for reading
the latest sensation, the must-read pick of the season, a good ten to fifteen
years after everyone else does. I could try to convince you that I do this on
purpose, in order to savor the story after the furor has diminished, in order
to make my own judgments, but that would be a lie. I’m simply slow to get
around to the buzz books.

The most recent on my late-to-the-party
list is Margaret’s Atwood’s The Blind
, hailed as “the first great novel of the new millennium,” which
proves exactly how later I came to it. Atwood is brilliant—you already know
that. In The Blind Assassin, she
reimages the novel by embedding a story within a story within a story. She intersperses
period-style news clippings, seeding many of them at the beginning, the result
being that it’s only after thirty-plus pages that we attach to a narrator and a

Could you or I get away with opening a
book that way? Not likely. When she penned The
Blind Assassin
, Atwood already had proven herself in the industry. She had
(and has) a substantial following, and therefore publishers are willing to
trust her to her readers. She also proved her chops with traditional
storylines, as in The Handmaid’s Tale,
perhaps her most well-known title, proving the adage that you need to know the
rules in order to break them.

As authors reimagine the book, so do publishers.
In a two-part series recently published in the IBPA Independent, I explored the
ways in which new technologies are nudging us to think differently about these
packages we call books. E-books are old news, my friends. Vending machines now dispense
short stories. Response-friendly formats on platforms such as Wattpad and
Medium are playing a larger role in digital publishing. Mobile devices allow
stories to be told in nonlinear ways.

By reimagining the book, authors and
publishers enjoy opportunities to collaborate in exciting ways. Peter Brantley of
the University of California, Davis, predicts that in the future, e-books and
other digital publications will function as well-designed websites; after all,
he points out, the Kindle is actually a small, thin linux computer. Who knew?

platforms such as Leanpub, Gumroad, and Patreon, authors can satisfy
fans with serial versions of their work—and fans can participate in the
development, encouraging and energizing authors. Meanwhile, working groups of
publishers continue to refine digital publishing standards.
the writer, all of this translates to possibility.
“When more authors and publishers realize and
leverage the exhilarating freedom of digital publishing, we’ll see wilder
experiments, startling moments of brilliance, and mass audiences where no one
ever expected to find them,” says publishing expert Josh Brody.
Co-founder of 49 Writers and founder
of the author co-op Running Fox Books, Deb Vanasse is the author of seventeen
books. Among her most recent are Write Your Best Book, a practical guide to
writing books that rise above the rest, and What Every Author Should Know, a comprehensive
guide to book publishing and promotion, as well as Wealth Woman: Kate Carmack
and the Klondike Race for Gold. Visit
to read the full content of “Updates
from the Digital Frontier”
and “Breaking Out
of the Box

1 thought on “Deb: The Book, Reimagined”

  1. Vending machine stories – best thing I've heard all week. Whatever else is happening in this goofy world, if the thirst for story is bringing them to hyper-accessible vending machine delivery, well, there is hope for this world yet.

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