The Atlantic has an interesting story about Citia, a non-fiction publisher who is trying some new things with non-fiction e-book formatting. The idea is to break out of the one-long-scroll e-book paradigm and present a non-fiction work in a way more representative of how the structure of ideas is put together. It presents the book as a series of mini-chapters in the form of cards, allowing better access  to the ideas within the work.

For example, the premiere book in Citia’s library, What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly, is segmented into various, smaller stand-alone yet interconnected mini-chapters. “Kelly writes that what technology wants is for this app to realize its ideal, most ‘convivial’ form,” says Linda M. Holliday, the founder and CEO of Semi-Linear. “So we’ve tried to build an e-book that’s optimized for digital life. We’ve done away with the endless unspooling text of PDF-based e-books and replaced it with discrete stacks of cards, organized according to concept. The result is a very detailed synopsis of a book—one that always offers users the option to buy the full-length original in any format.”

Elsewhere in the article, Holliday talks about doing a good job representing in 20,000 words the content of a 125,000-word book, though “Nothing replace the level of nuance and detail” in the original. So, essentially, this seems to be a digital version of Cliff’s or study notes for the original work. Which I suppose might be good if you’re going for a study guide to a textbook, but I’m not sure why I’d want to pay $10 for this if I was interested in reading the content of the actual book. I’d rather get the whole book.


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