Kingston University’s Professor of Journalism Brian Cathcart has just published a new book. It’s not his only publication, but it is his first where his words are being distributed primarily as an ebook – or as a print on demand Penguin Special.
Penguin describe their ‘Specials’ as:
“…designed to fill a gap. They are short, they are original and affordable, and they are written by some of today’s best and most exciting writers. And they are only available in digital form.
Written to be read over a long commute or a short journey, in your lunch hour or between dinner and bedtime, these brief books provide a short escape into a fictional world or a brief primer in a particular field or provide a new angle on an old subject.”
They sound a bit like the Kindle Singles concept that appeared a couple of years ago, except they come complete with gorgeous Penguin covers.
As one of the founders of the Hacked Off campaign – which is lobbying for significant reforms to create “a better press that is answerable to the public it is supposed to serve” – Cathcart applauds Penguin’s willingness to engage with a controversial topic and appreciates the potential reach of short ebooks:
“I give credit to Penguin for being prepared to publish a book that they knew would be unpopular with the press and would receive few reviews. They just knew it was the right thing to do and went ahead with it. They were also pretty light on their feet: it was a late proposal and we at Hacked Off knew it had to be out in time for the party conference season. They gave me a challenging deadline (which I met) and were then very quick to get it edited, legalled and proofed in time for a fast production turnaround.
Part of me would love to see it in bookshops, and maybe it will get there in the end, but the ebook is quick and has terrific potential reach, and a one-hour read is pretty attractive for an electronic reader. I’m old-fashioned enough to like the print-on-demand option, and have ordered a bundle to give to friends and family. The classic Penguin Special look is terrific (George Bernard Shaw, no less, wrote blue-and-white Penguin Specials) and tells people straight away that this is something serious.”