Jon Meacham has just published a $1.99 e-book (an “instabook,” as he calls it) entitled, “Beyond Bin Laden: America and the Future of Terror.” Assembled in about a week, the book hints at a new way forward for long-form journalism — an “Amazon Singles” approach. The contributors include:
- Jon Meacham, executive editor, Random House
- James A. Baker III, former Secretary of State
- Karen Hughes, former counselor to President George W. Bush and former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy
- Richard N. Haass, president, Council on Foreign Relations
- Bing West, author, The Wrong War, and former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs
- Andrew Exum, fellow, Center for a New American Security
- Daniel Markey, senior fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia, Council on Foreign Relations
- Evan Thomas, award-winning historian and former editor-at-large, Newsweek
Meacham has had a bumpy road in the digital news maelstrom, bouncing from Newsweek recently to Random House. He’s a Pulitzer Prize winning author and an excellent essayist and editor. He’s also good at drumming up cooperative authors, it appears. The coterie of writers he’s assembled is nothing to sneeze at, and their turnaround time is simply astonishing, as is the sale price of the book. It’s really a special issue magazine in some ways, but not quite — it’s too long.
As of this writing, it’s #319 in sales in the Kindle store.
Certainly, there are few events as galvanizing as the death of Osama Bin Laden. The issue of the New Yorker that arrived at my house today is full of stories about the dead terrorist. TIME magazine rushed two issues out last week about the event. But those are typical magazine turnarounds. Most national magazines have infrastructure in place to split editions, print editions, and inject issues into the mail on the heels of major events.
So, of course, when you have an ex-magazine executive and editor now part of a book publisher, you’re going to get an instabook when events compel coverage. And this is, to me, a significant hybridization moment — books can now be created and distributed as quickly as magazines. With magazines becoming more special-issue-oriented and niche, there’s a convergence lurking. Can book subscriptions be far behind?
I’ll be reading this new book about Bin Laden this week. My Kindle’s resting on top of my magazines.