Civil War Trilogy, to which he contributed a new introduction. Four minutes into the interview, though, Meacham switched gears to talk about an "instant eBook" he'd edited titled Beyond Bin Laden: America and the Future of Terror.
"How did you edit an eBook on the future of terror and Osama bin Laden's death? It just happened on Monday!" quipped Jon Stewart. "I know, that's why it's called an instant book," Meacham replies. The book is a collection of entirely new essays written by high-level foreign relations and terrorism experts collected together with an intro by Meacham...and published five days after the event that inspired it!
Beyond Bin Laden is Random House's first instant eBook, and as best I can tell, the first significant instant eBook by any publisher. In my mind, this is an idea that could be an absolute game-changer in the publishing industry. Even if you're not totally sold on the eBook idea, the instant eBook is actually something entirely new — sort of halfway between a weekly magazine and a rushed-to-publication book. But because it's all original content written specifically for this new format, the instant eBook can actually be more flexible and limber than either. Publishers are acutely aware that the key to getting readers to pay for content is to give them something they can't find elsewhere and at a high enough quality that readers "can't live without reading." If done right, as struggling publishers are looking for new ways to package content and engage new readers, the instant eBook satisfies both of those requirements.
It's no surprise that this first instant eBook was the brainchild of the former editor of a weekly magazine — Meacham says he simply emailed each contributor and ask them to write something on very short notice. (If you're unfamiliar, that's how we magazine editors roll...giggle, giggle.) So production costs are minimal and the possibilities are endless — even for fiction. Imagine a newspaper holding a creative writing contest and publishing the winners in an instant eBook — not something they could do in the newspaper itself, and much quicker than publishing it as a collection in a magazine or book.
Beyond Bin Laden is only $1.99 and is available for Nook, Kindle and iPad. I don't even own an eReader yet, but I couldn't be more excited about this. What do you think? Is the instant eBook a potential game-changer or a gimmick?