A New Genre Is Born: Instant eBooks

2011, as I predicted in January (natch), has indeed become the year the publishing industry was turned inside out. This week, Random House coined a new term, and a new genre, with the announcement that it is publishing the world's first instant book.
“It was conceived last Monday and we bought it on Friday. It’s an experiment and it’s very exciting," said Random House senior editor, Drummond Moir.
The book, if you haven't guessed it already, is about the death of Osama bin Laden. Why create an instant ebook? It's topical, so it might make money.
More importantly, the birth of this new genre could be big news for traditional publishers and serious writers. After all, until now the toast of the ebook world has really been indie writers suddenly making careers after being spurned by traditional publishers. But topical "instant books" seem a lot less likely to be taken on by indie writers, both because they are nonfiction and because they require the ability to write on a killer deadline with supreme accuracy. (We used to call that journalism). Traditional publishers have the resources, and access to expert writers, to pull of instant books. So let the competition begin. 
The book, which comes out next Monday, will be a collection of essays by experts in the field. Price: $1.99. Included are essays from Karen Hughes, Bing West, Richard Haas, Andrew Exum, and Jon Meacham, ex-Newsweek editor and best-selling author who is now executive editor at Random House in October. Random House has no plans to publish in a physical edition. 


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