Going Digital

Ever since the first crossword puzzle was published on December 21st, 1913, paper and puzzles have been inextricably linked.

Or, at least, they were. But with the advent of the Internet and the evolution of electronic publishing, that link is more tenuous than ever.

“Technology and the opportunities for puzzle creators and solvers to interact with one another will change the ways crosswords are created.” — crossword constructor Robin Stears

Digital puzzle distribution is gaining momentum, and it’s a fascinating time to be part of the puzzle community as individual puzzle constructors and major publishers begin the transition into the electronic market.

Here at PuzzleNation Blog, we’re smack dab in the middle of the revolution. We’re online-only content, representing an online puzzle-game website, and we’ve made recent forays into the mobile market with our Classic Word Search iBook. Digital distribution is literally what PuzzleNation‘s about.

During our 5 Questions interview, Robin Stears had quite a bit to say about the push for downloadable content and digital distribution, and I thought the subject merited its own separate blog post.

Here, Robin champions the move to digital content:

I’m on a mission to change the way crossword puzzles are distributed. Digital collections are easier to share, more affordable for solvers, and most important, they create no physical waste.

While I agree that sometimes there’s nothing more satisfying than finishing the New York Times crossword in ink, and I’ve made a decent living selling puzzles to crossword puzzle books, thanks to Eileen Saunders at Penny Press, I do believe that digital, interactive crosswords are the future.

And she’s hardly alone in that assessment.

Many top-tier constructors are going straight to the fanbase with their puzzles, not only in distributing them, but in crowdfunding their newest puzzle projects through Kickstarter and Indiegogo. (We’ve written several posts about endeavors like these.)

Here, Robin explains the benefits of digital puzzle distribution:

Fans should be able to buy crosswords directly from their favorite constructors at a reasonable price, and be able to share them with their friends even after they’ve solved them — that’s impossible to do with crossword puzzle books, but not with digital puzzles.

From now on, every collection I self-publish will be in digital format, .puz and .pdf files that puzzle fans can solve, share or print as much as they want. Not having them printed and mailed saves me both time and money, so I can publish more puzzles more often for a lower price.

More opportunities to share puzzles will create more crossword puzzle fans, and more puzzle constructors, and that’s good for everyone.

The next few years will no doubt prove critical for the growing digital puzzle market as a whole. It’ll be interesting not only to see how the big print companies adapt, but to watch how individual constructors like Robin Stears lead the charge.

Thanks for visiting the PuzzleNation blog today! You can like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, check out our Classic Word Search iBook (recently featured by Apple in the Made for iBooks category!), play our games at PuzzleNation.com, or contact us here at the blog!

5 thoughts on “Going Digital

  1. Even though I have just discovered Puzzle Nation site on my computer and enjoy using it, I hope you will NOT use this media as your ONLY puzzle medium. I am 70+ years old and don’t know how much longer I will be able to be on my computer because of health issues. I will then be purchasing my puzzles only in the published versions. I also enjoy using the published versions in bed before I go to sleep and during the night when I cannot sleep and don’t want to be up using my computer.

    Another concern I have been wanting to contact you on the published issues is that it seems like the person composing the puzzles uses the same words over and over again in the puzzles. It takes the fun out of doing the puzzles when the same words are used over and over again. It makes the puzzles too easy and not stimulating enough. Just wanted to express my opinion on this matter.

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