(This is a reprint of a blog post that first appeared on the Futurebook website.)
Our first project, Frankenstein is being built using our “inklebook” platform, designed to let non-technical writers make interactive content with the minimum of struggle. One of the question that’s come up a lot since we started showing it to people is – if your technology is aimed at writers, why do you need publishers? Why don’t you work with the writers directly?
It’s true. We could do that. But first and foremost, we’re a software and design company. We make things. By working in partnership with a publisher, we get to focus on what we’re good at and know we’ve got a lion in our corner.
Publishers can bring so much to the table. The most obvious thing is connections – with writers, with journalists, but also with the audience themselves. Publishers have a sense of what people are reading, and what they want to read next. With Frankenstein, we brought the look, the mechanics and the means to the table, and Profile brought the writers, the setting and the tone. By working in partnership, we’ve woven the two together into something that’s bigger than the sum of its parts.
There’s something else, too: publishers bring context.We’re a new company, making a new kind of story to a reasonably new platform. In all that newness, readers might feel a bit at sea. But having a publisher attached sets the release in position among other releases. It becomes part of a meaningful portfolio. We’re no longer floating alone, but part of a fleet. Profile publish intelligent books: serious but accessible fiction. They make beautiful, distinctive covers. All that value gets transferred over to Frankenstein. It becomes part of the project’s DNA, but also part of the project’s skin. Without Profile, Frankenstein would not be Frankenstein.
The job of a publisher has always been to nurture content and bring it to market. The second part of that is maybe easier now (though maybe not): but the first part is still hard, and takes time, and effort, and expertise. Making things is a risky business, and publishers are there to help.