Are traditional book cycles, with inception to production taking a year or more, too long for today’s instant gratification seeking consumers? Unless you’re Sarah Palin, it’s received wisdom that books actually take some time to write. According to a new publishing model debuting at Beast Books, child of The Daily Beast and new imprint of Perseus Book Group, that kind of production cycle is old news.
Citing the likelihood of missed opportunities should a title come to market too late, Tina Brown of Vanity Fair fame has decided the optimum cycle for their media-based titles is about three months—total. Authors will have one to three months to write the book and publishers will have about a month to take it to market.
Beast Books will be released first as eBooks and will only subsequently be released in paperback. For those despairing of what will happen to the news industry, this new model gallops in like a magical cowboy on a white horse: not only can journalists and freelance writers see a rent in the dark cloud of free content, but cultural critics who believe fast is synonymous with superficial might start to see some light as well.
If good books by talented writers find an audience of smart and hungry readers thanks to the power of the web, we might just be ready to let LOLCats go as the Internet’s flagship export.
It’s a model that works well only for a particular kinds of book—Michael Jackson’s Life and Times contrasted to the next Booker winner, say. That said, this model brings intelligent discourse into the market in a timely way, ensures those who are creating content get paid and combines the benefits of new tech with the venerability of the journalistic establishment. Also: Beast Books = pretty awesome name for an imprint. Unleash at will.