Unwrapping Yuletide Fanfiction

Step into the captivating universe of Yuletide, a fanfiction extravaganza that, among many, marks the rhythm of fan-created narratives throughout the year. In a calendar adorned with events like AUgust being dedicated to Alternate Universes, Tropetember focusing on tropes, and diverse fan weeks spotlighting specific fandoms and characters, Yuletide stands as a testament to the creative expression within fan communities. As an annual exchange event, Yuletide invites participants to craft and exchange stories, offering a unique platform for the celebration of diverse and often overlooked fandoms.

Characteristics of Yuletide Fanfiction

Yuletide, an annual fanfiction exchange, follows a process that begins with a nominations stage in September or October, where participants submit their preferred fandoms and characters. Sign-ups follow, lasting approximately one week, during which participants list the fandoms they are willing to write for and those they desire stories from, along with specific characters. The matching process employs an algorithm, pairing each writer with a requester based on common fandoms. Participants commit to writing one story for the fandom they offered and receiving one in return from a secret author who shares their requested fandoms. Additional stories, often inspired by other request letters, are encouraged.

The challenge unfolds over several months, with participants writing a minimum of 1,000-word stories that must include the characters from the recipient’s request. While participants can provide optional details in their requests, such as preferred relationships or story types, these are not mandatory for authors to follow. The process culminates on December 25th, with participants receiving at least one story in a fandom they requested, featuring the characters they specified. Yuletide also incorporates a Yuletide Madness sub-collection, allowing participants to write and share extra stories, and the New Year’s Resolution challenge, which opens after the author reveal, allowing unfilled requests from the main challenge to be addressed.

Yuletide Fandoms

At the core of Yuletide’s charm are the diverse and often unconventional fandoms that take center stage during its annual festivities. This year’s requests exemplify the celebration of the obscure, the overlooked, and the extraordinary. One request delves into the realm of hilarity with “A Civil War Ghost” CharactersWelcome comedy sketch by comedian Brennan Lee Mulligan, a unique and rare choice that captures the essence of a comedy sketch as its source material. Another rare gem on the list is Ring of Swords by Eleanor Arnason, a work with limited fanfiction presence, making it a standout choice for those who appreciate the unconventional. Yuletide not only thrives on shedding light on these less-explored realms but also challenges traditional notions of what qualifies as a “fandom,” encompassing everything from commercials and paintings to Twitter accounts and viral YouTube videos.

Origins and Evolution

Yuletide, an annual fanfiction exchange initiated in 2003 by fan creators astolat and tzikeh, saw remarkable growth from its modest beginnings, with participant numbers soaring from 300 in its inaugural year to over 2,100 by 2009. The event showcased a diverse range of fandoms, including TV shows, anime, books, and more. Yuletide’s evolution was marked by a pivotal transition in 2009 when it shifted its posting platform to the Archive of Our Own (AO3). This move brought about both challenges and advancements, introducing new features like automatic gift notifications and improved editing capabilities while necessitating the import of the entire Yuletide archive to AO3.

The import process, managed by AO3’s Open Doors project group, faced delays but was ultimately completed in May 2014, marking a significant milestone for Yuletide’s history. The migration preserved the event’s legacy, providing a seamless experience for participants and readers on AO3. Yuletide’s journey reflects its adaptability and resilience within the dynamic landscape of fanfiction communities, ensuring its continued growth and presence as a prominent event on the Archive of Our Own.

Community and Collaboration

Yuletide’s unique cultural traditions add an extra layer of festive charm to the fanfiction exchange. The concept of the Yule Goat, introduced by Liviapenn in 2009 but in use at least two years prior, serves as the bearer of Yuletide presents, offering a less religiously affiliated alternative to the traditional Santa. This imaginative departure reflects the inclusive and diverse nature of Yuletide, fostering an atmosphere that transcends typical holiday traditions. The cultural exchange extends beyond the Yuletide participants, with fans often assuming the event’s universality, leading to inquiries like “What did you get for Yuletide?” becoming common, regardless of one’s involvement.

Collaboration and camaraderie play a vital role in the Yuletide experience, facilitated by the unofficial IRC chatroom established since 2004 and the later addition of a Discord server in 2017. These spaces become lively hubs in the weeks leading up to the Yuletide deadline, serving as platforms for participants to encourage each other, share in the collective hysteria and humor, and navigate the pressures of impending deadlines.

The collaborative spirit extends to the signup process, where fans pair up writers and fics through a sorting algorithm. “Dear Santa” letters help writers unfamiliar with their assigned fandoms, creating a supportive atmosphere for participants. The 24-hour period between the final submission deadline and Christmas Day also sees the creation of last-minute “treats” for giftees in Yuletide Madness, showcasing the dedication of the fanfiction community.

Challenges and Controversies

Despite its success, Yuletide has encountered its fair share of challenges, particularly in managing the logistics of hosting an extensive repository of fanfiction. The division of submissions between two sites and occasional navigation issues have posed logistical hurdles. Additionally, debates have arisen over the definition of a “rare” fandom, and concerns about resource usage on the Archive of Our Own (AO3) servers have fueled intermittent controversies.

In an effort to promote diversity and representation in Yuletide fanfiction, the Misses Claus Challenge has been introduced. This challenge aims to highlight women in Yuletide narratives by incorporating the three-pronged Bechdel test as its criteria. Stories are eligible for the challenge if they either pass the Bechdel test, involving two women engaging in a conversation unrelated to a man, or if the story features a female protagonist whose narrative centers on elements other than her relationship with a man. Participants who successfully meet these criteria are encouraged to label their stories with the “Misses Claus” tag, contributing to the broader goal of fostering inclusivity and diverse storytelling within the Yuletide community.

Preserving The Genre: Pulp Fiction in the Digital Age

“Don’t judge a book by its cover!”

Nearly everyone has heard the proverb at least once in their lives—and not without good reason. It is a little piece of wisdom meant to impart an invaluable and universal life lesson: the value of people or things should not be determined on a whim based off on first impression. After all, appearances can be deceiving and it’s what is inside that truly matters most.

But this proverb is rarely applied to actual books and their cover art. In fact, studies and polls show that readers really do often judge a book—even an eBook—by its cover. While this may lead to readers potentially misjudging a great book and missing out entirely, there are some cases where judging a book by its cover are entirely appropriate, such as good old fashioned pulp fiction paperbacks.

These paperbacks are most notable for their whacky and eye-catching cover art, meant to convert lookers to buyers as they gawked at the provocative illustrations. Illustrations including sexy women in revealing clothes, men brandishing weapons, and even graphic depictions of violence—all covers arguably not commonplace today, but also much too detailed to translate well to a thumbnail image. But this doesn’t mean that pulp is incompatible with the digital age.


America’s pulp fiction period officially began in 1860 and fizzled out in 1955 after enjoying a couple decades of particularly heightened popularity around the time of the Great Depression. Industrialization brought the emergence printing technology that would vastly change the relationship between the average American, much more literate than before, and books forever.

The printing industry sought to capitalize on growing literacy rates and committed to making books more affordable by printing on wood-pulp paper instead of the rag paper which was in popular use at the time. Unfortunately, while wood-pulp paper was cheaper than its rag paper counterpart, it was definitely not as stable due to its acidity and cellulose composition. However, the instability of the paper was not an issue at the height of pulp’s popularity. Wood-pulp paper was incredibly cheap, meaning paperbacks could be purchased by middle-class Americans for mere pocket change, often just $0.25. They were meant for voracious reading, quick turn-and-burns as opposed to something designed to show off on a bookshelf.

Authors also benefitted from the pulp era. The period marks a significant time of innovation in literature and made way for the introduction of genre fiction never before seen on newsstands before—genres like hardboiled detective, western romance, and even science fiction. The era even lays claim to some prolific names in literature, such as sci-fi legends HP Lovecraft and L. Ron Hubbard, as well as detective story legends Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett.

While not scandalous by today’s standards, Pulps came under heavy criticism in American society for their contents, which frequently included crime, sex, and violence, among other exploitative themes. However, Pulp consumers couldn’t be deterred—amidst a bleak social landscape and the lurking Depression, readers simply craved escapist fiction. It is a craving that is on the rise again today, as evidenced by the increase in adult fiction sales year-over-year. The interest in adult fiction combined with our tendency to be nostalgic seems to suggest that modern society could see the return of Pulp, which even found itself trending on Twitter earlier this year.  

But in the digital age, does the Pulp-curious reader have the option of an authentic experience, or will they have to settle for a watered down and sterilized version of Pulp? Thankfully, there are some options—even with cover art fully intact.


Unfortunately, the use of wood-pulp paper has made the digitization and preservation of these books a daunting task. Unlike the process of scanning a typical book to .PDF, the groups that dedicate themselves to this mission are often faced with unique challenges posed by the wood-pulp due to its composition and age. Often, there are creases that need to be flattened, tears that need to be mended, or even multiple fragments that need to be put back together as a whole.

Thankfully, the Library of Congress, began a preservation initiative for their digital archive, which contains more than 14,000 different pulp titles. Initially, the Library began the task of digitizing by moving the paper-printed pulps to microfilm, or tiny little photographs. The issue with microfilm however, is its inability to properly preserve color intensity and image detail.

The Library recognizes the limitations of microfilm preservation and quickly resolved to split preservation duties between two divisions: the Collections Conservation Section, which is responsible for preserving the covers, and the Preservation Reformatting Division, which is responsible for the text.

Along with the Library, there are private organizations that dedicate themselves to digitizing these delightfully weird pieces of American literary history. Websites such as Radio Archives offer the pulp-curious reader not only digitized copies of pulps, but PDF, Mobi, and ePub formats, fully bringing pulp into the digital world and onto our eReaders—and just in time.  

Digital Publishing: Making Your Work More You

Digital publishing contains a broad field of topics, platforms, and, most of all, people. With the internet being more accessible than ever, the density of creators and writers makes it difficult for aspiring authors to be recognizable. Names, titles, and paragraphs tend to blur together which makes the path to a successful digital publishing career challenging.

It won’t be your name that needs to stand out or a fancy title but the writing itself. It needs to be clean, grasping, and sprinkled with hints of your personality. The only way to make people recognize you or prefer you over the millions of other writers is to get a firm grasp of how you can make what you write a part of who you are.

Trying to get a digital publisher and reader’s attention isn’t impossible. Here are some pointers, tricks, and tips on how to better your odds of publication and success.

Your name doesn’t matter.

This sounds harsh, but most readers won’t read your name until they are finished with the article. The same practice goes for hiring paid writers on digital forums. Typically during the hiring process, the hiring manager will black out names and go strictly off of what is written. With this in mind, you need to write everything digitally as if the reader will never know your name.

When writing, think about what will make you stand out. These things can range from humor to writing mechanics, or general personal style. Do you write more professionally or more to entertain? These are questions you need to consider before turning in a resume with a work attached. Since this is digital, these hiring agents will likely not see you in person until they offer an interview. So what can you do with your writing alone, with no name or face, that will make a publisher want to publish your works or a consumer enjoy you over others?

The opportunities to stand out are endless with your digital content. Try starting an article with a story or hook. It also never hurts to research the digital company and see the topics they are speaking about as of late. You could even write an article written in their format.

Try these practices the next time you apply or publish online. Your name is important but, without a face, it doesn’t hold weight in a digital space.

What do you like to write about?

A great way to build a following and be recognizable is to figure out what you are passionate about in writing. Do you want to publish digital books, write articles on history or art, or create and add to science journals? This is not to say you can’t love and write about many different interests, but rather find a category you feel you can add the most information and insight to.

Your name might not be the first thing they look at but after a few articles with your name on the same general subject, it will begin to stick. You will begin to be recognizable based on a personalized subject you enjoy. Take something you love and make it into the art you write. Embodying your individuality is what publishers are looking for. The trendiest things might get the most initial clicks, but if your personality isn’t in it, you’ll just be another article and writer of a million others.

Don’t just write about anything and everything others are focusing on. If you do find the topic interesting, find your own spin or idea that others haven’t thought of. Be original with your ideas and what you find interesting. A good rule of thumb: If you don’t like it, likely they won’t either.

Practice does really make perfect.

Being knowledgeable and skilled will make you stand out more than anything stated above. Grammar, style, and a flowing structure are detrimental in personalizing your work, and to perfect this, practice is needed.

Publishers likely receive hundreds of applications and fifty percent of what is sent is likely lacking in these departments. Be the star that shines through. It doesn’t just make you insanely more credible on the subject you are discussing, but it also shows professionalism and respect. Showing so much attention to these finer details shows the digital publisher you care about what you are writing. It shows you take this field of work seriously at a time when it is still growing its legs.

Digital publishers want people would care. Be the person who personalized their work in the most respectful way possible: with dignity.

You’ve Got This!

Breaking through in digital publishing isn’t an easy task. It takes a lot of time, effort, and heart to really personalize and stand out. The best thing to remember is to write what you love, sprinkle in bits of personality, and respect it enough to be credible. Through these principles, no one will be able to read it without thinking of you. Best of luck!

Substack: Academia Transformed

Substack is taking the world of academia by storm. In the past couple of years, writers like Rayne Fisher-Quann, Zeynep Tufekci, and others have utilized the platform to publish think-pieces, essays, and articles that have since been instrumental in academic and journalistic discussions. The website, despite having its share of copycats and naysayers, continues to grow. With this growth has come a sense of respectability, especially in terms of its forward-thinking members whose essays and articles have begun to be cited and included in academic discussions.


Substack’s homepage refers to itself as a “subscription network for independent writers and creators.” Launched in 2017, the website was designed to be a platform for writers to post their work and garner a subscription-based, newsletter-style audience of readers. Since then, the site has flourished and evolved into something that has drawn in creators of all kinds. Substack supports the work of writers in a vast range of fields and topics, with its home tab listing categories such as Culture, Technology, Business, Travel, and many more. Its subscription feature allows writers to select which posts they want to be publicly accessible and which they want to make available only to paying subscribers, who contribute a monthly fee for this access.

Online Academia

The internet has a reputation for making worlds once-exclusive accessible to millions, and academia is no exception. The academic field is one with a history often considered pretentious and stuffy, only accessible to a select few and rather narrow-minded in its culture. An article by Armaan Verma for The Daily Gamecock states the following: “Whether it be paywalls, complex or even downright incomprehensible papers, or even historical bias towards upper class men, academia has always found a way to make itself less accessible to the common person.” However, the article shifts to posit that academia can be made more “relevant” through the internet. With the resources the internet provides, academia has the opportunity to widen itself and develop a more expansive and well-rounded culture. Substack and its diverse platform of writers seems to be a promising addition to this effort.

Substack Academics

The following are examples of the writers whose works have been part of wider academic discussions over the past few years.

Rayne Fisher-Quann is a Canadian writer and cultural commentator. Her works on feminism, politics, sociology, and other topics on her Substack account internet princess have received acclaim in contemporary academic and commentative circles. She has spoken at universities like McGill and currently has a following of over 70,000 subscribers on Substack. Some of her influential pieces are the following: “standing on the shoulders of complex female characters” (about the glorification and romanticization of depression in young womanhood through the example of aesthetics and fictional female characters), who’s afraid of amber heard? (a think-piece concerning society’s treatment of Amber Heard and other woman who weren’t “perfect victims”), and the pain gap (a breakdown of the dynamics of toxic relationships and how women suffer).

Zeynep Tufekci is a Turkish sociologist and professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has an online news publication known as Insight on Substack, where she posts articles, essays, and think-pieces. She is also the author of the book Twitter and Tear Gas. She is a contributing writer to the New York Times and The Atlantic. Some of her influential pieces are the following: “Long Covid, The Long History Version” (about “complex chronic conditions and post-viral syndromes”) and “On the Alex Jones Verdict: The Very, Very Lucrative World of Lying” (about the Alex Jones trial and its societal implications).

Brian Klaas is an American political scientist and global politics professor at University College. He is also a contributing writer to The Atlantic. His Substack account is The Garden of Forking Paths, where he posts articles and essays about various educational topics for his audience of over 20,000 subscribers. Some of his influential pieces are the following: “The Biggest Hidden Bias in Politics” (about the American political system and its main failings), “It’s the Guns.” (about gun violence and gun control), and “The Evolution of Modern Dogs” (about the evolution of dog breeding and its societal implications).


The internet is a great equalizer. Since the dawn of its existence, online publications have revolutionized the fields of journalism, publishing, and academia. The new influence of Substack in online journalism and publishing in general sets a promising foundation for an era of academia that is more diverse and more informed. Perhaps, as it continues to grow, the platform will establish itself as a giant of reputable publications and educated opinion-pieces.

Issuu – What Is It?

Issuu may be the newest major innovation in digital publishing. The platform has grown immensely since its establishment in 2006, especially within the last decade after moving its headquarters to Palo Alto in California. Issuu began as a start-up in Denmark before becoming, by its own claim, the industry-leading digital publishing platform. The platform has other offices in Denmark, Portugal, and Germany as well. 

In September of 2021, Issuu received $31M from Capital IP as financing. Capital IP is an “investment firm focused exclusively on providing innovative financing solutions to emerging and transformative technology companies.” Capital IP believes Issuu is worth investing in which, if their growth in digital sales or monthly page views mean anything, is definitely the case. The platform boasts, as of 2021, over four billion page views monthly. In 2020, Issuu’s growth in digital sales equals 840% growth, primarily due to independent creators. 

Issuu is a digital publishing platform available for free to anyone wishing to publish their content digitally in an accessible, easy way. Medium, when describing Issuu, indicates that they are most widely known for their digitally published magazines. However, Issuu offers a variety of services for its users to take advantage of. These include digitally publishing articles, flipbooks, social media posts, videos, and gifs. They also offer numerous features to aid in the digital publishing process such as adding links, embedding publications, collaboration technology, statistics, etc. 

Not every feature Issuu provides is available for free, however. The platform offers different plans depending on the company or individual’s needs. The free plan offers the ability to digitally publish articles, gifs, videos, and flip books. It also provides features such as using provided flipbook templates, sharing your unique content through links or by ordering print copies, creating a public profile page where you can manage your stacks (like bookshelves) and others can see all your content in a single place, seeing 30-day statistics, uploading files from other websites such as Canva, etc. That is a lot of features available with the basic, free plan, but of course paid plans will provide even further aid to those wishing to publish digitally. 

Besides the free plan, Issuu offers three paid plans: Starter, Premium, and Optimum. These plans offer different amalgamations of features on them such as further customization options, further content creation options, more options for customer support, etc. However, collaborative technology allows Issuu to offer two plans specifically for teams. The plans vary in features that companies can take utilize such as multiple workspaces and seats for employees, a dedicated customer success manager, custom training, and some others. 

Issuu’s free plan provides a great opportunity for nonprofits or new companies to create content to be digitally published at a low cost (free). Nonprofits often deal with the problems of few staff and limited funds so the free option of digital publishing for their content to be advertised and distributed is a great option. Nonprofits can also benefit from Issuu’s paid plans if they’d like some of their content to be monetized for fundraising purposes. Also, a nonprofit organization can benefit from Issuu’s paid team plans which would allow multiple people from the nonprofit to work on their publication simultaneously.

An aspect of Issuu that is discussed on multiple sites is their user-friendliness. Many first-time users of the website found the site easy to navigate, utilize, and export from. Ease-of-use is extremely important for a digital publishing website claiming to allow customers the ability to digitally publish their content themselves through its technology. Issuu’s relevance as a digital publishing platform has become greater in more recent years as technology advanced and reliance on the Internet with its many benefits increased. With Issuu’s relevance being greater, more users will likely seek to use the platform as the concept of digital publishing grows wider, meaning the platform’s user-friendliness will be even more essential as individuals with little-to-no training in digital publishing will be using the site. 

Issuu may be a new name to many as digital publishing as a concept is relatively novel as well. However, Issuu as a platform for digital publishing will likely become larger as many seek to publish their content digitally. The site fills a gap in terms of accessibility. Digital publishing as a concept gives the impression that publishing one’s own content would be easier than taking a traditional publishing route, but many are still left unsure of how to go about publishing content digitally. Issuu provides an easy platform to publish content digitally whether it be videos, newsletters, magazines, gifs, or flip books. Hopefully, this article succeeds in providing an overview of Issuu and how it can be utilized by many.

The Closure of Okada Books

               After ten short years the digital publishing platform Okada Books is shutting down. The platform was founded in 2013 by Okechukwu Ofili and showed substantial success, offering numerous readers access to free online books, and giving many African authors the opportunity to publish. However, it is facing insurmountable struggles and cannot continue to operate, many citing a low reading culture and economic downturn as the reason for the failure.


In November of 2021, Itai Makone published an article discussing the breakdown of what the reading culture is like in Africa. ”In South Africa, for instance, a study showed that 78% of primary school grade 4 pupils cannot read for comprehension in any language,” she said. If the book is not of an academic nature, it is less relevant to a population that will always prioritize bread and butter needs first. This is completely understandable but also delivers the exact reason that advancements in the digital publishing world are doomed to failure. If a culture does not embrace the positive ramifications of literature diversity, then there is no way of guaranteeing the flourishment of such platforms as Okada Books.

She also goes on to point out that the digital environment presents a potentially positive opportunity but the prospect of leisure reading falls to the bottom in favor of other easier digital entertainment. Very few consumers will devote the time, money, or resources to reading for leisure if they can barely read. And access to videos, music, and games is far more gratifying. To a culture that relies heavily on making practical decisions, reading seems like a luxury. They reject the advancement because “There are costs associated with digitalization; these are subscribing and buying online books, purchasing mobile data and internet connectivity challenges.”


In the statement posted on social media the founder of Okada Books reassures his consumers, “We explored various avenues to keep our virtual bookshelves alive.” Unfortunately, they were unable to find a way to continue to offer the digital publishing services that gave many African authors their start into the world of literature.

Just as the rest of the world is suffering from a roller coaster of economic struggles, the African country faces not only a precarious position with regards to finance, but they are still working diligently to advance their selves and develop the areas that are much more rural. According to The World Bank in Africa, “Rising conflict and violence across the region exerts a dampening effect on economic activity, with climate shocks poised to exacerbate this fragility. About 462 million people in the region are still living in extreme poverty in 2023.”

Stretching of financial resources will always have a tremendous impact upon products that could be labeled as leisure or even non-essential. That way of operating will almost always guarantee that services like the ones Okada Books offers will never be fulfilled by alternative means, like government grants or incentives. To make a complex matter simple, books are not as important as lives.


From the perspective of readers from countries that rely heavily on digitally published texts for information and pleasure, the concept of a digital publishing platform closing down as if it were a brick-and-mortar store is a hard thing to imagine. For as long as the internet has been around, it is fairly common for people to caution others to be mindful about what they put on the internet because it is forever. Clearly, that is not always the case since that is exactly what is not happening for Okada Books.

It is a harsh reminder that something as simple as accessibility to books is not the reality of so many other places. They have not reached a point in development where they can offer easy access to internet, they do not have the capability to ensure text is readily available, and lack of funding will still impact companies that have little overhead costs to consider.

Many would argue that if the company just considered basing itself out of another country, then it would have been able to flourish. But nothing is as simple as it seems. In the case of Okada Books, they were trying to offer individuals a place to grow past the expectations of an underdeveloped country and encourage growth in their reading culture. The core purpose of the sight would not have been achieved if they compromised on where they chose to represent.


The closure of Okada Books is a significant event that will largely impact the Nigerian population of Africa, but their mission is not lost on the individuals who recognize how reading and writing will improve lives. Access to text through digital publishing platforms will remain a model that others will demand and even fight for as they grow and evolve. Countries like Africa will face challenges that other countries will never understand but that does not mean that they are not striving to do better.

How Much Do You Pay for Textbooks?

The Education Data Initiative—an organization of researchers dedicated to collecting data and statistics about the US education system—stated that the typical college student spends an average of $105.37 per textbook. The undergraduates spend up to $600 per year on class materials. If you’re a postsecondary student, you could expect to spend twice that amount. The Education Data Initiative also has some other eye-opening statistics on the cost of student’s textbooks:

  • Between 1977 and 2015, the cost of textbooks increased 1,041%
  • Textbook prices are rising roughly 3 times the rate of inflation
  • 25% of students reported they worked extra hours to pay for their books and materials
  • 66% of college students skipped buying or renting course materials because they were too expensive 
  • 11% skipped meals in order to afford books and course materials
  • 90% of professors say textbooks and course materials cost their students too much

Student spending on textbooks and course materials has declined as much as 48% over the last ten years. While some students may take advantage of scholarships or other financial aid programs to help cover the cost of books, others turn to digital publishing, such as eBooks or open-source websites, to help mitigate the expense. Inside Higher Education performed a survey of 2,400 undergraduate students in April of 2023. This research organization provides sources of data, analyses, and information on higher education in the United States. Of those surveyed, 59% claimed to use free sources. Open-source libraries like Open Library and Project Gutenberg offer students free access to millions of digital book titles, including textbooks. However, around 11% of the students surveyed admitted to using digitally pirated sources.

The current global market for digital publishing of textbooks represents $15.74 billion in revenue for 2023 and the market is expected to increase by 17% to $29.56 billion by 2027. With such a large profit margin, publishers could face a hefty loss in revenue if more students turn to pirating their titles.

In response to the risk of more students turning to piracy, four of the top ten major textbook publishers have taken legal action. Pearson, McGraw Hill, Cenage, and MacMillan Learning are joining together to bring a lawsuit against one of the most prolific publishers of pirated titles—Library Genesis—for copywrite infringement. The lawsuit claims that over 20,000 titles have been illegally uploaded by the “shadow library.” LibGen is one of the most popular sources for college students to find free versions of textbooks, journals, and articles with over six million titles in their index. The representative for the publishers in the lawsuit, Matt Oppenheim stated, “LibGen’s massive infringement completely undermines the incentive for creation and the rights of authors, who earn no royalties for the millions of books LibGen illegally distributes,” and called the LibGen website a “thieves’ den of stolen books.”   

While the official lawsuit, Cenage Learning Inc v Library Genesis, makes a solid case against LibGen, the suit also acknowledges that shutting down the site will present with some tough challenges. Pirate sites are notorious for reappearing after a legal battle has shut them down. They purchase new domains and use proxies and mirrors to curtail legal tracking. The creators go through extensive efforts to hide their identities and IP addresses to avoid detection, making legal action evasive. Other pirate host sites have been successfully sued in the past, and LibGen has also faced previous legal troubles. Sued by publisher Elsevier in 2017, a judge ruled in favor of the publishing company, awarding a $15 million payout and demanding that LibGen turn over their domain. However, representatives from the pirate site never appeared in court, and LibGen opened a new domain and is still operational.

The cost of higher education is continuing to rise, and students are in growing need to cut costs where they can. Illegal sources for book titles are not condoned, and students have other means available to help ease the cost of textbooks. Scholarship programs, financial aid, and grants are some of the resources students can use for help. However, as long as the need exists, pirate sites will continue to pop up and fill the gap between students and publisher prices.

Unlocking Value: The Rise of Tiered Micro-Subscription Models in the Digital Content Landscape

Many platforms are moving away from the well-known traditional paywalls to smaller, more affordable subscription options, after analyzing the impact on revenue streams, reader loyalty, and the overall sustainability of digital publications. One emerging trend on the horizon is the adoption of tiered micro-subscription models which would provide users with diverse options for accessing digital content while simultaneously adding considerable value.

Understanding Tiered Pricing Models:
Tiered pricing models are a strategic approach to subscription services, where offerings are segmented into different tiers or levels, each accompanied by distinct features and benefits. Baremetrics quite plainly explains tiered pricing as, “a SaaS pricing model in which cost is based on the tier of service chosen by your customer. The cost of each tier (think: a plan and package) is incremental, determined by factors such as features and usage limits included in any given plan.”

The concept contrasts with traditional one-size-fits-all subscription models, allowing publishers to cater to a broader audience with varying preferences and budget considerations. Tiered pricing also offers publishers the ability to upsell different service levels for added revenue.

As highlighted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce , this approach enables businesses to offer customers choices that align with their specific needs and willingness to pay. The tiered structure typically consists of basic, standard, and premium levels, with each tier providing an escalating set of features and/ services.

A Digital Publishing Platform’s Tiered Micro-Subscription Models in Motion:
To illustrate the concept in practice, let’s consider a digital publishing platform that adopts tiered micro-subscription models. The basic tier might grant users access to a limited set of articles, serving as an entry point for those seeking essential content. As users progress to higher tiers, they unlock additional benefits, creating a more personalized and engaging experience.

Premium tiers could include features such as ad-free reading, early access to content, exclusive interviews with industry experts, and interactive multimedia elements. These added values not only enhance the user experience but also incentivize subscribers to opt for higher tiers, contributing to increased revenue for the publisher.

One real-time instance of this is the well-known AdWeek. In an article titled, “How HBR Becomes More Valuable in Time of Economic Distress” Mr. Mark Stenberg provides an engaging summary of Harvard Business Review and their tiered subscription offering. However, there is no way to have access to the full article without first selecting one of the three subscription plans as follows:
“Monthly Digital: $20.00 Billed Every 4 Weeks
Annual Digital: $17.00 Per Month /$199.00 Annually (Save More)
Annual Digital and Print: $21.00 Per Month/ $249.00 Annually”

Insights from NetSuite’s Article on Subscription-Based Pricing Models:
Netsuite further emphasizes the importance of understanding customer preferences and behaviors in designing subscription models. Netsuite suggests that incorporating tiered pricing aligns with the diverse expectations of consumers, allowing publishers to tailor offerings and increase customer satisfaction. Furthermore, the article highlights the potential for upselling and cross-selling opportunities within a tiered model. Publishers can strategically position their premium tiers as providing exceptional value, enticing users to upgrade their subscriptions for a more enriched content experience.

Putting It All Together:
The adoption of tiered micro-subscription models represents a forward-thinking strategy for digital content publishers to adapt to the evolving landscape. By offering diverse tiers with added value, publishers can attract a wider audience, cater to individual preferences, and foster stronger customer loyalty. As we move forward in the digital age, the tiered pricing model is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of subscription-based services, delivering value and customization to consumers while ensuring sustainable revenue streams for publishers.

The Partnership of StreetLib and Bowker: Publication in One Place

In a press release from StreetLib announcing the collaboration, Bowker General Manager Beat Barblan stated, “We’re excited to team with StreetLib and make their global distribution platform available through Bowker.” Being the only official ISBN (International Standard Book Number) agency for the U.S. and its territories, Bowker is where a U.S. author has to go if she needs to purchase ISBNs.

Why You Might Want an ISBN

Technically, e-books do not require ISBNs, but any author determines if she needs one or not by how she wants to structure her career and how she wants to publish her book. Some individual vendors do not require ISBNs, and some third-party aggregators offer free ISBNs, but there are some downsides to consider The publisher is the owner of the ISBN, meaning a free ISBN from Draft2Digital will not transfer to another aggregator, forcing you to get a new ISBN if you want to switch to another company like IngramSpark. This could result in multiple book listings on a single vendor, putting you in the position of competing against yourself and losing reviews of your book.

If you want to publish on a global scale, it will be important to have an ISBN because some countries don’t allow the publication of a book that does not have one, or they charge higher taxes on books without ISBNs. An ISBN is also necessary to ensure your book is in the Books In Print database. Publishers, retailers, and libraries use this database to find your book. Your book doesn’t sell if no one can find it. If you also plan to publish different editions of your book, then investing in ISBNs is a good decision.

When an author in the U.S. determines she needs ISBNs, she must visit the Bowker website. This is where the partnership really proves its value. “With the addition of StreetLib, Bowker Identifier Services becomes a one-stop solution that publishers can use to obtain virtually all the products and services required to get a book published, discovered, and sold,” says the Library Technology Guide. Authors will no longer have to go elsewhere to publish and distribute their books.

Along with its global reach, StreetLib offers comprehensive analytics, a commission-based payment system, and a simplified process for uploading either a single book or multiple books to its platform. Sovan Mandal, a senior writer at Good Ereader, says, “By combining Bowker’s established presence in author services with StreetLib’s innovative global distribution platform, the collaboration is poised to redefine the landscape of independent publishing.”

The Importance of Analytics

 Technopedia defines analytics as “the scientific process of discovering and communicating the meaningful patterns which can be found in data.” Analytics is an essential tool for an independent author, and by having partners with retailers and subscription services, StreetLib offers a complete picture of the interest in a book instead of just looking at retail sales. All of the information is in one place on a robust dashboard that explains the various analytics, which can be filtered by vendor, genre, and even language. Having everything in one place simplifies the process of using analytics to direct your career.

StreetLib also estimates daily sales, and this information provides authors more control over the best pricing schemes for their book and shows the success of any promotional campaign they might run. All of these real-time numbers give authors more control over their careers in a comprehensive format that doesn’t require the time it takes to compile the numbers from multiple vendors.

Why Choose StreetLib?

If you’ve already set up your book with a third-party aggregator like Draft2Digital or IngramSpark, switching to StreetLib just because they’ve partnered with Bowker might be unnecessary. An author must make this decision for herself after looking at all the available information about the different platforms.

Unlike other aggregators, StreetLib offers the ability to upload multiple books simultaneously. They also have access to over fifty distribution partners, including Scribd subscription services and Overdrive library access, compared to Draft2Digital, which only has fourteen partners. StreetLib simplifies the uploading of e-books by offering a “concierge” service to set up and upload your book. They also offer book formatting with an online editor that is free up to 5 MB. 

E-books are very profitable for independent publishers, with a market share of over 16 billion USD in 2023, that is expected to continue rising. Because they have been in the business of distributing e-books since 2006,  StreetLib comes with plenty of experience to back up what they say they are capable of doing. Their global reach makes them particularly appealing to independent authors and publishers. Some recent findings for World Book Day show the popularity of various genres worldwide. StreetLib’s access to over 250 global e-book outlets, including retailers, subscription services, and libraries, increases the likelihood that your book will find its ideal reader.

Like other third-party aggregators, StreetLib has no setup fees, and their commission rate of 10% for e-books and 20% for audiobooks is on par with other companies. Since their specialty is e-books and audiobooks, their only offering for physical books is Print On Demand, which is something to consider if you want to offer more than e-books at different vendors.

Through this partnership with StreetLib, Bowker has captured a ready-made market by ensuring that any author who comes to them for ISBNs doesn’t need to click away from their website because all she needs is now in a single place.

Exploring the World of On-Demand StoryCraft

The emergence of on-demand freelance platforms has brought about a significant upheaval in the storytelling industry. These platforms are becoming more than just intermediaries; they are becoming potent tools that democratize access to narrative services on a global scale. Using meticulous planning and a relentless pursuit of excellence, authors and clients collaborate to create stories that are dynamic examples of group creation. The future of storytelling is emerging as a dynamic and inclusive experience, paving the way for a revolution in narrative construction as varied perspectives come together on these platforms.

On-Demand Storytelling Platforms

The rise of platforms like Fiverr marks a significant shift in how stories are created and consumed. These platforms, acting as dynamic marketplaces for writers, surpass their role as mere facilitators of creative exchanges; they emerge as powerful instruments propelling the democratization of access to storytelling services. This democratization, enhanced by the global connectivity facilitated by platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, PeoplePerHour, and Truelancer, has fundamentally transformed the conception and realization of narratives.

The accessibility offered by these platforms goes beyond traditional limitations, facilitating connections and collaborations between writers and clients from diverse backgrounds worldwide. Whether hailing from Mexico, Denmark, Estonia, or any corner of the globe, both sellers and buyers can engage, breaking down geographical constraints and fostering an exchange of cultural perspectives. This global interconnectivity transforms storytelling into a collaborative endeavor where diverse voices converge, giving rise to narratives inspired by a mosaic of cultures, languages, and lived experiences.

The democratic nature of these platforms goes beyond geographical inclusivity to address accessibility on multiple fronts. By providing a level playing field for writers of varying expertise and backgrounds, these platforms empower storytellers who might not have had traditional avenues to showcase their skills. This democratization of opportunities ensures that a spectrum of voices contributes to the evolving narrative landscape.

The creative process revolves around writer-client interactions in the complex dance of on-demand narrative. Examining these connections’ dynamics is more than just working together; it’s a complex conversation in which knowing the expectations and preferences of the customer is crucial. See “How to Make Money on Fiverr, According to 5 Freelance Writers” for helpful advice on navigating the freelancing world and optimizing profits on sites such as Fiverr. These firsthand accounts illuminate effective tactics and serve as a priceless tool for writers seeking to establish rapport, satisfy clients, and improve their expertise in the field of on-demand storytelling.

The Collaborative Nature of On-Demand Storytelling

In on-demand storytelling, clients and writers engage in a thorough process of collective brainstorming. This involves a deep exploration of every aspect of the narrative, from character characteristics to the backgrounds of fictional worlds. Clients provide detailed outlines that encapsulate the essence of their envisioned story, covering details like the color of characters’ hair to the story of how they lost their parents.

This collaborative venture goes beyond traditional storytelling dynamics. Clients present intricate outlines resembling blueprints, serving as a roadmap for the narrative journey. The process involves a dynamic exchange of questions and clarifications to articulate the vision precisely. Clients, as the architects of their stories, strive for perfection, ensuring every aspect aligns with their intended narrative.

What sets this collaborative narrative creation apart is the unprecedented involvement of clients in shaping their envisioned story. They have the freedom to introduce changes, add details, and influence the narrative direction based on evolving preferences. This level of client engagement marks a departure from traditional storytelling, creating a symbiotic dance where the client’s vision comes to life with meticulous care.

On-demand storytelling platforms have ushered in a new era where collaboration is elevated. The intricate dance between clients and writers, fueled by detailed outlines and a commitment to perfection, results in narratives that are living manifestations of collaborative creativity. This paradigm shift acknowledges the significance of the client’s narrative vision, making each storytelling venture a truly bespoke and engaging experience.

Adding to the significance of this collaborative approach, a noteworthy 76% of consumers affirm their inclination towards personalized brands, as revealed by McKinsey. This profound impact of tailored storytelling extends far beyond mere purchasing decisions, seeping into realms of recommendations and fostering enduring relationships for repeat business. This shift underscores the compelling need for narratives that resonate intimately with the audience, making on-demand platforms pivotal in shaping the future of storytelling.

Diversity in Client Requests

The kaleidoscope of storylines that emerges from the tapestry of client requests on these dynamic platforms reflects the vast diversity of the worldwide community they represent. These platforms provide writers with a wide range of storytelling requirements covering the whole gamut of human experience. The world of on-demand storytelling is vast and eclectic, ranging from moving narratives of actual events that clients themselves have gone through to creative endeavors where clients imagine themselves being seamlessly integrated into their favorite TV shows, unleashing their own sense of havoc in their favorite fictional worlds.

Beyond the confines of the traditional narrative, this variety presents both opportunities and problems. Writers could be asked to create tales that dive into well-known characters from different universes, with clients requesting stories that take these characters in novel and surprising directions. Fanfiction’s terrain continues to grow, incorporating crossovers between characters from different fictional universes, such as the colorful Anime worlds of One Piece and Dragon Ball Z, to the melodrama world of The Vampire Diaries, or the thrilling adventures of Kim Possible. The fact that clients aren’t restricted to pre-existing universes speaks volumes about the limitless inventiveness spurred by their brilliant imaginations. They also commission the development of whole new worlds, which are painstakingly planned out with their own magic systems and subtleties.

Within this broad and varied field, on-demand narrative serves as a medium for the realization of hopes and ambitions, with writers deftly navigating the complexities of their clients’ goals. The art of the storyteller becomes a flexible collection of tools that adjusts to the needs of customers who want stories that go beyond the typical and explore worlds that are limited to their imaginations.

Overcoming Challenges

On-demand storytelling is a collaborative and diversified field that offers a unique set of complex issues in the digital marketplace between customers and suppliers, despite its tremendous rewards. Language boundaries present a significant challenge for writers operating in this complicated environment, possibly impeding the smooth translation of cultural quirks and customer expectations.

As writers attempt to properly connect their creative vision with the details given by customers, misinterpreting their demands becomes a fine line to tread. Another issue is estimating the word count and the amount of time needed to finish the story; this requires finding a careful balance between fulfilling the client’s deadlines and producing a thorough narrative.

Adding to this multifaceted landscape is the nuanced nature of communication. An interesting phenomenon comes to light where women often feel compelled to include exclamation points in their messages to avoid appearing rude, a concern less prevalent for men who can provide concise responses without similar apprehension. This highlights the subtleties woven into the fabric of digital interactions, where gendered expectations impact communication styles in the on-demand storytelling arena.

There’s also the possibility of disgruntled customers requesting cancellations heightens the dynamics of buyer-seller relationships. There’s then a delicate dance to play, with writers having to choose between politely accepting cancellations or negotiating and trying to find a solution. Potential fallout includes the potential for unfavorable evaluations, which would complicate the digital partnership even more and highlight how important it is to live up to customer expectations.

The Future

The popularity of on-demand storytelling services portends a revolution in the craft of narrative writing. These platforms are developing into centers for cutting-edge narrative strategies as they move beyond conventional markets. Fueled by a variety of customer requests, writers are likely to try out novel frameworks and immersive experiences. These platforms are setting the standard for collaboration in the entertainment industry. Filmmaking, gaming, and other industries may follow suit, changing the way viewers engage with media.

The wide range of requests from clients serves as a spark for more inclusive stories, which affects storytelling in television, movies, and books. A new wave of voices may emerge as a result of the democratization of narrative skills, changing the composition of the storytelling community and bringing new viewpoints to creative ecosystems. The teamwork method increases audience participation and may serve as an example for future storytelling that emphasizes group experiences.