This week, I watched The Social Network, and besides loving it as a film (Aaron Sorkin is my god) it fired up the entrepreneur in me. I started thinking about all the things I’d love to do if I could, especially when it came to transmedia projects. (And I started thinking about the people I’d need to work with to make some of them happen; I’m just not a graphic designer or computer programmer.)
Then, last night, I was also thinking about Realms of Fantasy. The well-known speculative fiction magazine recently announced that they would be closing their doors, being unable to keep the magazine a viable business. (And that they’d sell the magazine for $1 to anyone who thought they could save it.)
And I recalled a related tweet from Guy leCharles Gonzalez:
My thought was this. First of all, ditch the print publishing and distribution, which would be one of the major expenses. The next bit would require some investment capital — personal investment or a loan, perhaps — but have someone design and program an app. Turn the magazine into an electronic property. Ideally, there should be a mobile phone/iPad app, which would have the most functionality. This same functionality should be available through a browser as well, for computer viewing. Then, you’d have to also design some epub functionality; make sure the magazine was available on as many platforms as possible.
Next, restructure the method of getting content. A reader could buy the app for a reasonable price, and then a further yearly subscription (cheaper because of initial cost and lack of physical product) would automatically download each new issue to the app/computer/device. Alternately, one could have the app without a subscription, and download issues manually. Alternately, one could have the app, and decide to only download select stories. Pay a dollar for a story kind of thing, like iTunes. That way, if they hear about a particular story, they can just get that one story. It encourages more people to pay for content, and more people to pay for the initial app.
The app, then, would be designed to facilitate navigation through different stories, and handling stories without necessarily handling an entire issue. We’re certainly not just talking a pdf of the magazine. (And perhaps things like editorial content, interviews, etc., would be free content, with only the stories themselves requiring payment. Encourage the audience.)
And finally, there’s the big dream: stop accepting typical fiction. Encourage contributors to think beyond the text. Ask them to make each story they submit, each story that gets published on this platform, something that uses the potential of the platform. Enhancements, video clips, hyperlinks, notes, unusual formats, even entire transmedial stories, of which what appears in the magazine is only part.
What would a transmedia short story look like?
How would style and form be different between a larger transmedia project, and something short and compact, something that could be experienced in half an hour and be over?
I don’t have the investment capital or the business, programming, and publishing expertise or contacts to make this happen, but I kind of wish I did. (I also don’t know how viable it would be, ultimately. But I’d certainly like to find out.)
Anyone up for the task? I’d love to hear your ideas.