Reading from the cloud is the future, and it means that books may become fluid documents, writes Marcelino Elosua
The cloud has already changed the game. Perhaps one day it will change the ending.
As more people use the cloud for reading books, it’s possible that, in future, novels might be revised by their authors – or by its readers – and different endings released. Readers might become participants in shaping a novel. When technology permits innovation, creativity rises to the occasion.
Yet fiction has a profile disproportionate to the sector’s size: it accounts for just 20% of global book revenues. Most publications are nonfiction titles or textbooks, and of the ten most profitable publishing houses in the world, only two can be considered publishers of literature.
Given this, it is the world of non-fiction that will be transformed most by the cloud.
The clearest consequence of this, even if only for nonfiction, is that no one will want to buy and download books, not only because of the storage they take up, but because readers will always want the most up-to-date version, and the simplest solution is to read those books via a cloud website from any device, at any time and in any place.
Cloud reading brings a lot of other advantages: it’s cheaper for readers; more profitable for publishers; reduces book piracy since they are not downloadable; and facilitates contact between author/publisher and reader.
It also adds one other key benefit: multilateralism, which provides true interactivity. A platform is bilateral when the essential relationship is between the platform and the individual users, each of whom can read a book and leave a review, publicly and for the whole website. It’s really multilateral if it allows interaction with other individual users or groups and enables content to be amended or rearranged, by comments or by reorganizing it.
Multilateralism has already been adopted by my company Bluebottlebiz, the first website to have introduced it.
Marcelino Elosua is the founder and chief executive of LID Publishing, which publishes Dialogue.