Follow the gamers, they know. Electronic Arts COO John Pleasants told VentureBeat: “If you believe all games will eventually be services — as I do — then the idea of game teams that make a game, ship it, and then do something else goes away. They will now ship and day one begins when the customer gives feedback to the live service. The way you distribute will be different. The way you charge will be different. There will be more permutations in pricing. Merchandising will be much more important. Co-marketing will be much more important. You have to have persistent identification and entitlements for a user, no matter where they are or in what game they’re playing.”
This is the prescription for book publishing. Not all books will be online services, but all books can tap Web services to connect readers to more than just the text. Think Books-as-a-Service (heck, let’s call it “BaaS” and go fishing).
Authors can accomplish much of this on the Web by themselves, but this development also represents one of the new fields where publishers can add value, if they don’t make the mistake of treating an author’s readers as their customers (“Welcome Doubleday reader….”). Instead, publisher brands will need to fade into the book community’s background while supporting the readers’ desire to connect with other readers, the author and related books and programming, the last a key area for discounting (book clubs), direct marketing and merchandising of co-marketed experiences.
For those of you who think that any association with gaming industry strategy diminishes the value of reading, you will need a hard reset before your evolution can continue. It’s a figurative suggestion, not a suggestion we turn books into games.