Networked Books

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What is a networked book?

Go to Webliography of Networked Books

Term coined by The Institute for the Future of the Book in describing the new wave of online publishing.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Boundless Possibilities (9/11/2006) As 'networked' books start to appear, consumers, publishers and authors get a glimpse of publishing to come "Networked" books -- those written, edited, published and read online -- have been the coming thing since the early days of the Internet. Now a few such books have arrived that, while still taking shape, suggest a clearer view of the possibilities that lie ahead.

In a fairly radical turn, one major publisher has made a networked book available free online at the same time the book is being sold in stores. Other publishers have posted networked titles that invite visitors to read the book and post comments. One author has posted a draft of his book; the final version, he says, will reflect suggestions from his Web readers.

At their core, networked books invite readers online to comment on a written text, and more readers to comment on those comments. Wikipedia, the open-source encyclopedia, is the ultimate networked book. Along the way, some who participate may decide to offer up chapters translated into other languages, while still others launch Web sites where they foster discussion groups centered on essays inspired by the original text.

In that sense, networked books are part of the community-building phenomenon occurring all over the Web. And they reflect a critical issue being debated among publishers and authors alike: Does the widespread distribution of essentially free content help or hinder sales?

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