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Are Mobile Phone Books The Future Of Publishing?

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Not very many people I know use their smartphones for reading — though there are apps for the Kindle, Nook, and iBooks marketplaces that you can download for your phone, the screen usually feels to small, and it’s harder to get engulfed into a story the same way you might with a larger eReader device. But what if you could find content that’s specifically designed to be read on a mobile device? Would it even be worth reading in the first place?

That’s exactly what Jeff Gillis of Potboiler LLC has done with his new series, Get Fisk. A former Google employee who worked closely with Adwords and Google Analytics, Gillis wants to popularize “serialized novellas” that have been carefully constructed to be highly addictive and perfect for long public transit commutes. In an interview with last December, he outlined the process by which his team created the content:

We tested all content with a beta audience and then refined it until it would test as well as bestsellers that are on the market now.

For example, a group of beta readers read text from our stories, and also text from a current bestseller in the same genre. We then asked them which one they liked better and why.

We would analyze the results and refine our content and test it in a similar manner again until it tested better than the bestseller. That gave us the confidence to put time and energy into the work.

If you’re interested in reading more of Gillis’ thoughts on publishing and marketing, you can check out part 1 and part 2 of the interview.

It’s a shrewd idea, definitely. But could this type of highly-crafted marketing strategy remove some of the artistry from writing? Lauren Herstik at seems worried that it might; she describes the prose of Get Fisk as ” an early draft screenplay dialed to a middle-grade reading level with a light smattering of soft-core sex scenes.” Which doesn’t sound great, sure, but if people are reading and enjoying it, does it matter how literary or “worthwhile” the story might be?

Personally, I think I’d be more likely to buy into Get Fisk if Gillis weren’t so brutally honest about the meticulous marketing strategies and analytics methods he uses, because it sort of makes the end result feel disengenous. But maybe if I were stuck on a train on the way to work and needed something to read, I’d think differently!

What do you think? Is Gillis a publishing genius, or is he simply using technology to game the current online publishing system? Let us know in the comments below!

Victoria McNally

Victoria is the content writer for the BookWorks blog. A recent graduate of NYU, she lives in New York and writes about pop culture whenever and wherever she can.

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One Response to “ “Are Mobile Phone Books The Future Of Publishing?”

  1. Widdershins says:

    I think it’s a case of throwing things against a wall and seeing what sticks.

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