Tuesday, May 22, 2007

This FanLib thing has the fanfic folks in a tizzy. Now Making Light is putting in its two cents, too. This thread they link to on Mashable is worth reading.

Here's a quote from the press release:
"FanLib.com launches with co-promotional partners including HarperCollins, Penguin Books, Showtime Networks, Simon & Schuster, and Starz Entertainment. The launch partners are heavily featured and have customized marketing integrated on the site while providing promotion for FanLib.com."
Aside from the fact that fanfic has thrived online for years, in addition to the decades' long tradition of print fanzines, has anyone considered the reaction of the holders of the original copyrights and licenses?

"While fan fiction has existed for decades, FanLib is launching a new era by packaging it for mainstream audiences and introducing features including:Official Fan Events - FanLib works with a growing list of entertainment partners such as HarperCollins, Showtime Networks, and MSN to produce collaborative, online storytelling events.
Sharing and Content Syndication - Similar to online video sharing sites, FanLib.com members can extend the audience for their fanfics by embedding customized promos in personal web pages, blogs, and e-mails."
And yet, if this could actually work, it would make for some interesting possibilities in user generated entertainment. If the originators don't balk, which many of them tend to do. This is the fanfic equivalent, I guess, of YouTube where spoof vids are involved.

Still, it does mean the beginning of the end to an era if it does succeed, an era where fanfic was just plain fun and not attached to making money beyond the cost of paper and printing (with a few notable exceptions who shall not be named). Of course, fanfic has changed much since the internet, anyway, and no longer is an underground or fly under the radar enterprise. I can't imagine it ever being as much fun as it was back then.

Bottom line. Can FanLib succeed? Among the factors to be considered are:
  1. Is it filling a need not already filled by other sites?
  2. Can it earn enough to keep its investors happy?
  3. Can it attract the kinds of stories to build a large enough core audience and stay viable?
  4. Has the backlash from fan writers already hurt it?
  5. Can it really deliver the goods?
  6. What will happen when TOS is violated and/or contributors get C&Ds (cease and desist letters)?
In my opinion, this is far from a sure thing.

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