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September 29 2013

September 27 2013

Gallica : plus de 600 titres au format ePub - Aldus - depuis 2006

Gallica : plus de 600 titres au format #ePub - Aldus - depuis 2006
http://aldus2006.typepad.fr/mon_weblog/2013/09/gallica-plus-de-600-titres-au-format-epub.html

Bonne nouvelle aujourd’hui, Gallica vient de mettre en ligne plusieurs centaines de titres de plus, désormais un total de plus de 600 titres.

http://gallica.bnf.fr/ebooks?lang=FR
#ebook

Tags: ePub ebook

August 26 2013

Internet-Piraterie : Bücher stehlen als Geschäftsmodell - Kultur - Tagesspiegel

Internet-Piraterie: Bücher stehlen als Geschäftsmodell - Kultur - Tagesspiegel
http://www.tagesspiegel.de/kultur/internet-piraterie-buecher-stehlen-als-geschaeftsmodell/8690178.html

„Wir sind Verleger, keine Ladendiebe“, sagt ein Betreiber der illegalen Plattform http://boox.to, der größten Plattform im deutschsprachigen Raum für Gratis-Downloads von Literatur. „Shared Reading“, das klingt gut. Aber Raubkopien von E-Books im Internet ruinieren das Buchgeschäft.

Boox.to, gegründet Ende 2012, ist nach eigenen Angaben die größte Plattform für den illegalen Download von E-Books im deutschsprachigen Raum. Bis zu 1,5 Millionen Bücher werden auf dieser Website in Form von Raubkopien angeblich jeden Monat heruntergeladen. Beim Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels geht man davon aus, dass die Zahl realistisch ist. Die Branchenvertretung hat deshalb die „Gesellschaft zur Verfolgung von Urheberrechtsverletzungen“ (GVU) damit beauftragt, Ermittlungen im Fall von Boox.to anzustellen. Die Betreiber der illegalen E-Book-Plattform haben angekündigt, ab Oktober ihr „Geschäftsmodell“ umzustellen und eine Nutzungsgebühr einzuführen.

#auf_deutsch #edition #ebook #pirates

August 23 2013

Livre numérique : l'offre disponible en France - Aldus - depuis 2006

Livre numérique : l’offre disponible en France - Aldus - depuis 2006
http://aldus2006.typepad.fr/mon_weblog/2013/08/livre-numérique-loffre-disponible-en-france.html

Avant la rentrée de septembre, c’est le moment de faire un petit point sur l’offre numérique disponible en France. Ces statistiques ont été établies à partir du site LesLibraires.fr au 20 août 2013, avec un total recencé de 90871 titres. C’est bien entendu le secteur de la littérature générale qui est le plus représenté avec plus de la moitié de l’offre. Plus de la moitié également au format ePub. Côté prix, 54% de l’offre en deça des 10€ ; côté #DRM près des 2/3 de l’offre complète reste verrouillée. Pour ces deux derniers aspects, on est encore malheureusement très loin des attentes des consommateurs.

#ebook

August 18 2013

Comment perdre tous ses livres en traversant une frontière avec google Play - Framablog

Comment perdre tous ses livres en traversant une frontière avec #google Play - Framablog
http://www.framablog.org/index.php/post/2013/08/18/google-play-ebook

Imaginez-vous partir en avion dans un autre pays en ayant emporté dans votre valise quelques livres à lire lors de votre séjour. Vous arrivez à destination, récupérez votre valise sur le tapis de roulant de l’aéroport, l’ouvrez pour vérifier son contenu et là surprise : tous vos livres ont purement et simplement disparu par l’opération du Saint-Esprit !(Permalink)

#ebook

August 13 2013

Russie : 70 % de personnes auraient adopté le format numérique

Russie : 70 % de personnes auraient adopté le format numérique
http://www.actualitte.com/acteurs-numeriques/russie-70-de-personnes-auraient-adopte-le-format-numerique-44410.htm

Contrairement à ce que l’on croirait, il semble que les États-Unis ne soient pas le pays avec le plus fort taux d’adoption de livres numériques. Une infographie réalisée par RBTH.ru montrerait que les Russes sont particulièrement férus du format numérique, avec 70 % des personnes qui lisent en #ebook. 50 % d’entre eux ont basculé entre 1 et 3 ans, et 23 % au cours de la dernière année.

February 15 2013

Leserbrief von S. J.

Liebe NachDenkSeiten, lieber Herr Müller,

ich arbeite ich in einem kleinen unabhängigen Reisebuchladen. Heute ist in der FAZ ein Artikel veröffentlicht worden, von dem ich denke, dass er auch für die NachDenkSeiten-Leser interessant sein könnte.

Der Artikel war heute schon in jeder Buchhandlung Heidelbergs das Tagesthema und ich wäre Ihnen sehr verbunden, wenn Sie auf Ihrer Homepage darauf hinweisen könnten.

Herr Reuss hat vielen Buchhändlern und auch Kunden aus der Seele gesprochen. Die Universitätsbibliothek, wie auch die Stadtbibliothek verlinken die Bilder, die sie ihren Kunden als “Mehrwert” zur Verfügung stellen auf Amazon, von denen sie die Daten beziehen, und bekommen ein Entgelt. Der genaue Betrag wird nicht genannt.

Einige Kommentare zu dem FAZ-Artikel lassen mein Buchhändlerherz bluten. Es ist so schade, zu glauben, dass Amazon einen besseren Service und eine bessere Beratung durch Kundenrezensionen biete.
Viele Rezensionen sind gefälscht. Wenn ich mir manchmal durchlese, welche Reiseführer und vor allen Dingen Karten empfohlen werden, bange ich um manche Leute, die diese Produkte kaufen und damit irgendwo in den Alpen herum hüpfen.
Vieles ist pures Marketing, Geldmacherei und Ahnungslosigkeit. Ein Beispiel …

Zum Service: Auf wessen Kosten? Heute Abend um 22.45 Uhr kommt wieder ein Bericht im Fernsehen, der die Arbeitsbedingungen unter die Lupe nimmt. Geschweige denn die Arbeitsbedingungen der Paketzusteller, die schlicht unter aller Sau sind. Ich habe täglich mit ihnen zu tun und weiß, wovon ich rede.

Vielleicht haben Sie als ehemaliger OB-Kandidat von Heidelberg mitbekommen, dass sich die Stadt als “Unesco – City of Literature” bewerben will. Als einer der Hauptgründe wird die größte Buchhandelsdichte pro Einwohner in Deutschland genannt. Wenn die Bibliotheken nun Ihre Studenten gezielt zu Amazon führen, wird diese hochgelobte Dichte abnehmen. Man erinnere sich, dass Heidelberg auch mal die größte Dichte an Kinos hatte.

Es schmerzt, wenn Leute mit enormer Vehemenz den Buchhändler als überholtes Relikt verteufeln und die Verlage mit ihrem E-Book-Wahn auf ein B2C-Geschäft hoffen (E-Books haben gerade mal 2% Marktanteil, Hörbücher 15%). Diese Stimmungsmache, die gegen den stationären Buchhandel und auch gegen die Ladenpreisbindung läuft, ist fatal. Die Fronten in der Diskussion sind so verhärtet, dass man sich gar nicht mehr traut, seine Position als Buchhändler zu erläutern. Und wenn, dann werden sie eh abgeschmettert.
Ich sage nur eins, Amazon hätte mit seinen Algorithmen niemals diese Buchauswahl zu Sarrazins Buch zustande gebracht. Amazon ist der Buchhandel egal. Die Marge ist eh zu gering und erst kürzlich erschien das Ranking der einzelnen Marktanteile der Warensegmente: Auf der Überholspur Kleider und Unterhaltungselektronik. Hier ist die Gewinnspanne wesentlich höher.

Ich würde mich sehr freuen, wenn Sie diesem Thema etwas Platz auf Ihren Nachdenkseiten, die mir so lieb und teuer sind, widmen würden.

Herzliche Grüße
S. J.

January 09 2013

Four short links: 9 January 2013

  1. BitCoin in 2012, By The NumbersOver the past year Bitcoin’s value when compared to the US Dollar, and most other currencies, increased steadily, though there was a large spike and subsequent dip in August. Interestingly, the current market cap is actually at a peak for 2012, exceeding the spike in August. This can be attributed to the fact that tens of thousands of Bitcoins have been introduced into the economy since August, though now at the slower rate of 25 per block.
  2. Man-Computer Symbiosis (JCR Licklider) — In short, it seems worthwhile to avoid argument with (other) enthusiasts for artificial intelligence by conceding dominance in the distant future of cerebration to machines alone. There will nevertheless be a fairly long interim during which the main intellectual advances will be made by men and computers working together in intimate association. Fascinating to read this 1960 paper on AI and the software/hardware augmentation of human knowledge work (just as the term “knowledge worker” was coined). (via Jim Stogdill)
  3. Papyrus — simple online editor and publisher for ebooks.
  4. howdoi (github) — commandline tool to search stackoverflow and show the code that best matches your request. This is genius.

April 13 2012

The sorry state of ebook samples, and four ways to improve them

This post originally appeared on Joe Wikert's Publishing 2020 Blog ("Rethinking Samples"). This version has been lightly edited.

I'm bored with ebook samples. I feel like I'm collecting a bunch and then forgetting about most of them. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone, and I'm even more certain this adds up to a ton of missed sales opportunities. Although this would be impossible to prove, my gut tells me the revenue missed by not converting samples into sales is a much larger figure than the revenue lost to piracy. And yet, the publishing industry spends a small fortune every year in DRM, but treats samples as an afterthought.

Think about it. Someone who pulls down a sample is already interested in your product. They're asking you to win them over with the material you provide. Far too often, though, that material is nothing more than the front matter and a few pages of the first chapter. Some of the samples I've downloaded don't even go past the front matter. I'm looking for something more.

Let's start with the index. Would it really be that hard to add the index to ebook samples? No. And yet, I've never seen a sample with the index included. Sure, many of these books have indexes that can be viewed separately on the ebook's catalog page, but why not include them in the sample? Give me a sense of what amount of coverage I can expect on every topic right there in the sample.

How about taking it up a notch? Give me the first X pages of the full content, include the entire index at the end, and in between include the rest of the book but have every other word or two X'd out? That way I can flip through the entire book and get a better sense of how extensively each topic is covered. By the way, if the entire book is included like this, then the index can include links back to the pages they reference.

Next up, why do I have to search and retrieve samples? Why can't they be configured to automatically come to me? After a while a retailer should be able to figure out a customer's interests. So why not let that customer opt in to auto sample delivery of ebooks that match their interests? I love baseball. Send me the samples of every new baseball book that comes out. I've got plenty of memory available in my ereader, and I can delete any samples I don't want. Also, I've mentioned this before, but it's worth saying again: How about letting me subscribe to samples from specific authors? Again, it would be an opt-in program, but I wonder how many interesting books I've missed because I didn't discover the sample.

Finally, this problem doesn't appear until after the sample is converted into a sale, but why can't the newly downloaded ebook open up to where I left off in the sample? Seriously, this has got to be one of the easiest annoyances to fix, so why hasn't anyone taken the time to do so?

The future of publishing has a busy schedule.
Stay up to date with Tools of Change for Publishing events, publications, research and resources. Visit us at oreilly.com/toc.


Related:


March 21 2012

02mydafsoup-01

Consumers in the Information Society: Access, Fairness and Representation




Bild/Foto

Free ebook


Members of Consumers International (CI), the only global campaigning voice for consumers, came together from around the world to discuss and set an agenda for advocacy on these issues, at the first global summit Consumers in the Information Society: Access, Fairness and Representation held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 8 and 9 March 2012. This book contains the research reports and working papers presented at that conference.



#ebook #consumers #digitalrights #copyright

February 09 2012

It's time for a unified ebook format and the end of DRM

This post originally appeared on Publishers Weekly.

EreadersImagine buying a car that locks you into one brand of fuel. A new BMW, for example, that only runs on BMW gas. There are plenty of BMW gas stations around, even a few in your neighborhood, so convenience isn't an issue. But if one of those other gas stations offers a discount, a membership program, or some other attractive marketing campaign, you can't participate. You're locked in with the BMW gas stations.

This could never happen, right? Consumers are too smart to buy into something like this. Or are they? After all, isn't that exactly what's happening in the ebook world? You buy a dedicated ebook reader like a Kindle or a NOOK and you're locked in to that company's content. Part of this problem has to do with ebook formats (e.g., EPUB or Mobipocket) while another part of it stems from publisher insistence on the use of digital rights management (DRM). Let's look at these issues individually.

Platform lock-in

I've often referred to it as Amazon's not-so-secret formula: Every time I buy another ebook for my Kindle, I'm building a library that makes me that much more loyal to Amazon's platform. If I've invested thousands or even hundreds of dollars in Kindle-formatted content, how could I possibly afford to switch to another reading platform?

It would be too inconvenient to have part of my library in Amazon's Mobipocket format and the rest in EPUB. Even though I could read both on a tablet (e.g., the iPad), I'd be forced to switch between two different apps. The user interface between any two reading apps is similar but not identical, and searching across your entire library becomes a two-step process since there's no way to access all of your content within one app.

This situation isn't unique to Amazon. The same issue exists for all the other dedicated ereader hardware platforms (e.g., Kobo, NOOK, etc.). Google Books initially seemed like a solution to this problem, but it still doesn't offer mobi formats for the Kindle, so it's selling content for every format under the sun — except the one with the largest market share.

EPUB would seem to be the answer. It's a popular format based on web standards, and it's developed and maintained by an organization that's focused on openness and broad industry adoption. It also happens to be the format used by seemingly every ebook vendor except the largest one: Amazon.

Even if we could get Amazon to adopt EPUB, though, we'd still have that other pesky issue to deal with: DRM.

The myth of DRM

I often blame Napster for the typical book publisher's fear of piracy. Publishers saw what happened in the music industry and figured the only way they'd make their book content available digitally was to tightly wrap it with DRM. The irony of this is that some of the most highly pirated books were never released as ebooks. Thanks to the magic of high-speed scanner technology, any print book can easily be converted to an ebook and distributed illegally.

Some publishers don't want to hear this, but the truth is that DRM can be hacked. It does not eliminate piracy. It not only fails as a piracy deterrent, but it also introduces restrictions that make ebooks less attractive than print books. We've all read a print book and passed it along to a friend. Good luck doing that with a DRM'd ebook! What publishers don't seem to understand is that DRM implies a lack of trust. All customers are considered thieves and must be treated accordingly.

The evil of DRM doesn't end there, though. Author Charlie Stross recently wrote a terrific blog post entitled "Cutting Their Own Throats." It's all about how publisher fear has enabled a big ebook player like Amazon to further reinforce its market position, often at the expense of publishers and authors. It's an unintended consequence of DRM that's impacting our entire industry.

Given all these issues, why not eliminate DRM and trust your customers? Even the music industry, the original casualty of the Napster phenomenon, has seen the light and moved on from DRM.

TOC NY 2012 — O'Reilly's TOC Conference, being held Feb. 13-15, 2012, in New York, is where the publishing and tech industries converge. Practitioners and executives from both camps will share what they've learned and join together to navigate publishing's ongoing transformation.

Register to attend TOC 2012

Lessons from the music industry

Several years ago, Steve Jobs posted a letter to the music industry pleading for them to abandon DRM. The letter no longer appears on Apple's website, but community commentary about it lives on. My favorite part of that letter is where Jobs asks why the music industry would allow DRM to go away. The answer is that, "DRMs haven't worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy." In fact, a study last year by Rice University and Duke University contends that removing DRM can actually decrease piracy. Yes, you read that right.

I recently had an experience with my digital music collection that drove this point home for me. I had just switched from an iPhone to an Android phone and wanted to get my music from the old device onto the new one. All I had to do was drag and drop the folder containing my music in iTunes to the SD card in my new phone. It worked perfectly because the music file formats are universal and there was no DRM involved.

Imagine trying to do that with your ebook collection. Try dragging your Kindle ebooks onto your new NOOK, for example. Incompatible file formats and DRM prevent that from happening ... today. At some point in the not-too-distant future, though, I'm optimistic the book publishing industry will get to the same stage as the music industry and offer a universal, DRM-free format for all ebooks. Then customers will be free to use whatever e-reader they prefer without fear of lock-in and incompatibilities.

The music industry made the transition, why can't we?


Related:


Now available: Best of TOC 2012 anthology

Best of TOC 2012We just released "Best of TOC 2012," a free anthology that brings together key interviews and analysis from Radar's publishing area.

The material in Best of TOC falls into four sections:

The adaptation of publishing — The disruption in publishing is just getting started. Journalists are experimenting with ebook options over traditional outlets, readers are wrapping their heads around the concept of paperless books, and authors are wondering if they even need publishers.

Digital publishing and the legal landscape — The emerging global market for books is stirring up all sorts of legal questions concerning copyright, public domain and digital publishing rights for authors and publishers. Existing laws are slowly adapting to new media platforms as well.

Publishing tech and tools — Digital publishing is requiring tech education for everyone, from publishers to authors to readers. In addition, the rise of mobile is driving the development of publishing's next toolset.

The edge of publishing — Adaptation to a new publishing landscape starts with a change in thinking — not only in how we think about technology and books as objects, but in how we define our various roles and how we choose to collaborate.

You can download a free copy of "Best of TOC 2012" here (available in EPUB, Mobi and PDF formats).

TOC NY 2012 — O'Reilly's TOC Conference, being held Feb. 13-15, 2012, in New York, is where the publishing and tech industries converge. Practitioners and executives from both camps will share what they've learned and join together to navigate publishing's ongoing transformation.

Register to attend TOC 2012

December 14 2011

Research and restraint: Two more things to add to your digital publishing toolkit

Since 2009, author and digital book producer Peter Meyers (@petermeyers) has been researching and documenting the digital publishing revolution in his project "Breaking the Page: Transforming Books and the Reading Experience." His investigation into digital books has uncovered a host of tools and use cases. The project has also shown that when it comes to digital book enhancements, just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.

A free preview edition of Meyers' project is now available — in ebook format, of course — and he'll discuss "Breaking the Page" in depth at his TOC New York 2012 session, "Breaking The Page: Content Design For An Infinite Canvas."

In the following interview, Meyers talks about how and why the project got started and what's surprised him thus far. He also reveals the unfortunate connection between today's enhanced ebooks and the font-filled newsletters of the mid-1980s.

What is "Breaking the Page"? What was the inspiration?

Peter MeyersPeter Meyers: I was an early adopter of everything that was happening around the world of the Kindle and ebooks. It struck me that it was still the very beginning of the digital publishing revolution, and all that was really happening in the world of Kindle was that publishers were taking these digital snapshots of print books and stuffing them onto the Kindle. As much as I love my Kindle and I love reading Kindle books on platforms like the iPhone, I felt like we weren't yet seeing authors and publishers deliver new kinds of reading experiences.

So, back in 2009 or so when it became clear that the industry overall was undergoing these significant changes and when it also became clear that some kind of tablet device was on the horizon from Apple, I felt that we were on the cusp of a sea change. Publishers and authors and readers alike weren't yet getting their heads around how books were going to change, and I wanted to take a systematic look at what these new kinds of books were going to look like. How are they going to change the things that authors create? How are they going to change the reading experience? What parts of the reading experience can and should stay the same? And I wanted to do so in a way that put the needs of the reader up front. "Breaking the Page," for me, was a way of taking a considered look at all of the innovation that was going on but trying to think through some of the best practices.

How are ebooks missing the point?

Peter Meyers: I'm not sure that I would say plain EPUB ebooks are missing the point. In fact, the sales figures show they're doing an incredibly good job of satisfying maybe everyone except for the bean counters at the big publishing firms, who, at this point, are understandably afraid of how things are looking for the future. But from a reader's perspective, I think traditional plain-vanilla ebooks are doing a great job — you get mystery readers and romance readers and serious literary fans, and they just can't get enough and they're buying more books. If I'm any sort of measure to judge by, I'm buying many more books on all my digital devices.

I think where things were less successful was in that first wave of enhancements, where the entire industry kind of decided collectively, "Hey, we need enhancements. We need enhanced ebooks." And I will raise my hand and say, "Guilty." I was complicit, and I participated in a number of enhancement projects.

The collective reaction on the part of readers was pretty much a big giant yawn of disinterest. Publishers spent a fair amount of money experimenting on that front. Now they're starting to conclude that the time and resources required to create these enhanced books are probably not worth the effort. In some cases, enhancements are a quick way to turn off people who are interested in reading books in the first place.

Which publishers and platforms are "breaking the page" well?

Peter Meyers: I certainly see a lot of experimenting happening out there. At the risk of sounding like a total company shill, I will say that O'Reilly does an admirable job in terms of not thinking of itself as a company that is in the business of selling print books, but staying true to its motto of changing the world by spreading the knowledge of innovators. There are places in which a company, be it O'Reilly or any other publisher, is so centered on books as the unit of delivery that it's hard to respond to a disruption like StackOverflow, for example, where people pose and field questions having to do with technical challenges. StackOverflow is a great and constant reminder that the competitive threats to publishers often don't come from other publishers, but from different approaches.

In the world of textbook publishing, there's a firm called Inkling that specializes in textbooks for the iPad. A lot of what Inkling has done has been successful because rather than taking a PDF replica of a traditional print textbook and cramming it onto the iPad, Inkling has "XML-ified" everything — it's ditched, more or less, the print page. Inkling has a nice little trick in there for teachers who have classrooms that are split between students who have the print version and those who have the iPad version, and the company has really rethought how to design content and reading experiences for the iPad.

Screenshot from Inkling promotional video
Inkling integrates a music textbook and the scores that go along with it. Students can listen to what the music sounds like and follow along as the music is progressing.

What are the most important digital publishing tools?

Peter Meyers: It's funny. On the one hand, the list is pretty easy — it goes something like: Objective-C, HTML5, XML, and anything that will help your development team use those tools in conjunction with an author to create compelling stories or informative teaching material. But on the other hand, this has nothing at all to do with tools. And as crazy as this might sound, I think market research should be part of everyone's toolkit. The reason I say market research is because in this digital publishing world, a lot of times what publishers and authors must do is think through the consumer's need for their products.

For example, if you're a publisher and you've got an amazing coffee table book about great travel destinations for coffee lovers, the market research question might be, "Does that print book do the best job of satisfying people's need to learn about coffee-centric vacations, or will an app do a better job?" In many cases, the answer is going to be, "Print actually does an amazing job when it comes to coffee table books that have to do with travel." So, researching the market before we embark on these digital publishing initiatives is a way of determining where a product fits into the landscape.

Has there been something in your work thus far that has surprised you?

Peter Meyers: The biggest surprise was when I got started, roughly around the time of the arrival of the iPad. I had this hypothesis that storytelling and narrative nonfiction were going to be changed significantly as we entered the world of touchscreen publishing. I've more or less come 180-degrees around on that and come to the conclusion that the bound codex, be it a digital collection of pages or a printed collection of pages, is actually the perfect form for telling a story of about 100,000 words — and it probably just needs words, especially in the hands of the right author.

As so often happens when new technologies arrive on the scene, the new technologies don't eliminate the old technologies. Rather, they add to the kinds of stories that can be told. My revelation was that plain prose stories didn't go away and probably won't go away. They certainly will occupy a smaller portion of most people's media consumption in the years and the decades ahead, but they do a wonderful job in telling a 100,000-word love story or biography or what have you.

The other thing I have found extremely surprising and kind of eye-opening is the way that books, in an age and a time of information overload, provide a source of refuge for people. At the risk of getting too touchy-feely, we're assaulted by so many micro bits of content from status updates and Twitter and Facebook and RSS feeds that books of the 200- to 400-page variety give people a reason to focus and to follow a story. The books actually acquire an even greater value in a digital world because they give people continuity and a thread to follow while the rest of their days are fractured by so many different kinds of information sources.

TOC NY 2012 — O'Reilly's TOC Conference, being held Feb. 13-15, 2012, in New York City, is where the publishing and tech industries converge. Practitioners and executives from both camps will share what they've learned and join together to navigate publishing's ongoing transformation.

Register to attend TOC 2012

What will the publishing landscape look like in 10 years?

Peter Meyers: I do spend time thinking about that — ten years from now, is it going to be Steve Jobs' youngest daughter taking over Apple and announcing the iHolograph while graciously ushering out Tim Cook? Who knows, that may be a possibility. What I am a little bit more confident about predicting is that the tools authors and publishers will have at their disposal will be a lot better and a lot easier to use. I really think that we're at a point in time that's analogous to web publishing in the mid-'90s, where most of the good stuff that you could do required hand coding and a certain amount of expertise.

Just looking at the companies I'm following in the world of authoring software and authoring solutions, there's so much activity on that front that's targeted at designing tools that let creative people tell their stories without having to master Objective-C or JavaScript. It's uncommon, I think, to find people who have creative dispositions who are also skilled in these kinds of programming-style tools.

The other thing I see happening in the next decade is more authors emerging who are multi-mode threats. My favorite example these days is David Pogue. He's a great speaker, he's a great writer, and he's also very nimble in the world of putting together fun and entertaining iMovie productions. As the next generation of authors grows up — hopefully somewhat capable in the world of writing — they'll also be adept in other media forums, like audio and video. [Disclosure: David Pogue is the creator of the Missing Manual series.]

Also, the urge to binge on multimedia will subside. It'll be less of a thrill to put every single thing that you can do as an author into your latest production. It's similar to how we all learned in the mid-1980s that putting 28 different fonts in the church newsletter just made it look awful. The instinct to put video and audio in an ebook — and, yeah, we can have a bird fly down as the cover opens — it's just too much. As authors get more skilled with these tools, they'll develop a restraint and a respect for the audience. Authors will know that not everything needs to be included.

This interview was edited and condensed.

Related:

December 02 2011

Top Stories: November 28-December 2, 2011

Here's a look at the top stories published across O'Reilly sites this week.

Don't blame the information for your bad habits
Clay Johnson, author of "The Information Diet," says information consumption, not the information itself, is what needs to be managed.

Big data goes to work
Alistair Croll looks at how data is shaping consumer expectations and how those expectations, in turn, are shaping businesses. He also examines where business intelligence stops and big data starts.


The paperless book
Todd Sattersten: "The publishing world needs some new language that describes what happens and, more importantly, what is possible when the words are separated from the paper."

How Twitter helps a small bookstore thrive
Learn how Omnivore Books, a cookbook store in San Francisco, uses Twitter to solidify relationships with customers and break through the publisher blockade.


Web-first workflows let publishers focus on the stuff that really matters
In a recent keynote, PressBooks founder Hugh McGuire said web-first workflows streamline book production so publishers can focus on more important matters, such as writing, finding, and editing great books.


Tools of Change for Publishing, being held February 13-15 in New York, is where the publishing and tech industries converge. Register to attend TOC 2012.

November 30 2011

The paperless book

Stephen Colbert opened his October 25th, 2011, show with his normal exuberance. He bragged about his special early access to the iPhone, the iPad, and the iV (a product that feeds the Internet directly into your veins; he assured us a short wait of six months before its release). The release of Walter Isaacson's "Steve Jobs" would be no different, as Colbert pulled the 600-page biography from behind his desk. But Colbert immediately became perplexed.

The single finger touchscreen swipe on the cover didn't turn pages. When you turned the book upside down, the picture didn't reorient. Colbert complained there was no place to plug in his headphones so he could listen to it. And then he tried to activate the voice recognition by touching the bottom of the cover, "Tell me about Steve Jobs. Where is the nearest church or camera store?" He ended the segment saying that the device would soon be released with "a revolutionary softcover." The jokes played well to the geekish sensibilities of the studio audience, but I am not sure even the show's writers knew how well the sketch described the confused state of book publishing.

"Steve Jobs" will serve as a prominent road marker on the path from atoms to bits. The decision for Simon & Schuster to hold the digital release of the biography for two weeks to match the physical release even after the death of Jobs is worthy of a Harvard Business School case. And at the same time, even as computers now interface with us in almost every aspect of our lives and Jobs' critical role in that proliferation, the majority of people will read his life story on paper.

Colbert poking fun at the Jobs biography repeats, again, a meme that we in the publishing industry should be gravely concerned about — our customers don't know what a book is anymore.

The consequences of book updates

In July 2011, I launched an experimental project with O'Reilly called "Every Book Is a Startup." The project is meant to poke at the boundaries of traditional publishing. The book was created around the idea that new material will be released over time, culminating in a finished work early in 2012. Readers are encouraged to constantly give feedback about the material. The pricing is dynamic, increasing slowly to match the amount of material released, but once purchased, a customer receives all future updates for free.

We are only using one distribution point at the start of the project, oreilly.com, because the distribution system for electronic books is not designed to allow an ebook to be updated and released again. You might remember one of the side effects of Amazon's 2009 recall of "1984" was that after the book was restored, customers found their bookmarks and notes had disappeared.

We, unfortunately, found the same problem with our release strategy. Wonderful publishing startups like Readmill and SocialBook have created the possibility for readers using EPUB files to highlight important passages and share those with others back through the web, but when a reader of "Every Book Is A Startup" loads a new edition, their digital artifacts suffer the same fate as the readers of "1984" — the loss of their old thoughts as I present them with my new ones.

I have been hesitant to call "Every Book Is A Startup" a book because of the expectations people hold for a book: a finished work, written from a position of singular authority, available in some way in a physical form. What I never expected was how strongly the qualities of a book would be brought forward from the physical to the digital. Digital books have been designed to carry forward the same atomic quality of immutability of physical books. As I reached out to my colleagues working in the world of ebooks, the consensus was that no one had considered a reality where an author, given the ability to distribute directly and virtually cost free, would consider updating their work and the consequences that might have.

Bits and atoms don't behave the same way, but we have built the next step forward in publishing as though they do.

Possibilities arise from a new name

The trouble to this point is that a book is a book. Stacey Madden used precisely those words to title an essay in the inaugural issue of "Toronto Review of Books" that describes this predicament. "I do not mean to argue the advantages of paperbound books over their electronic counterparts," wrote Madden. "The contents of both are, for the most part, the same, and the differences lie mainly in medium. I am simply pointing out a semantic fact. E-books are not 'books' but digitized compositions." She firmly believes the book's 550-year-old meaning that connects both form and format should be maintained. "Before a collection of human thoughts is transformed into what we call a 'book,' it is merely a story, a manuscript, a document, or a text." Madden points to the need for more of us to see the difference between a book and its electronic counterparts.

Now, Madden writes further about the poetic qualities of the book and declares the superiority of the bound volume for its weight, smell, and ability to act as apartment furnishing. This judgment undermines the broader point and shows from another perspective the real trouble we are in.

The people who love books for what they are and what they have been are grabbing for their hardcovers and their paperbacks and saying "This word belongs to us." The digerati paving the way with wireless tablets and social networking recommendation services are trying to say, "You don't understand, we have books and we have made them way better." This is messy and leads to confusion.

We are living through a time in book publishing where words fail us, a situation that we should all find some irony in given the products we sell. We need some new language that describes what happens and, more importantly, what is possible when the words are separated from the paper. Those two things need to be separated so we can build systems and infrastructures that support the new capabilities of the technology.

For several decades, what we know today as a "car" was referred to as a "horseless carriage." It was easier to describe this new invention as what it was not, rather than what it was.

Maybe there are books and there are paperless books. I know it is a little awkward, and you want to ask yourself, "What does that mean?" — but when you remove the paper from a book, it becomes so much easier to see the possibilities.

TOC NY 2012 — O'Reilly's TOC Conference, being held Feb. 13-15, 2012, in New York City, is where the publishing and tech industries converge. Practitioners and executives from both camps will share what they've learned and join together to navigate publishing's ongoing transformation.

Register to attend TOC 2012

Photo credit for associated book picture used on home and category pages: Old book (1882) by VanDammeMaarten.be, on Flickr

Related:

September 23 2011

Top Stories: September 19-23, 2011

Here's a look at the top stories published across O'Reilly sites this week.

Cooking the data
Open data and transparency aren't enough: we need True Data, not Big Data, as well as regulators and lawmakers willing to act on it.

BuzzData: Come for the data, stay for the community
BuzzData looks to tap the gravitational pull of data, then keep people around through conversation and collaboration.

At its best, digital design is choreography
In this brief interview, Threepress Consulting owner Liza Daly tackles a question about formatting content for browser publishing. She says for design to succeed, authors, artists and developers must work together.

Five digital design ideas from Windows 8
Microsoft's Metro interface offers plenty for digital book designers to study. The best part? Whether or not Microsoft actually ships something that matches their demo, designers can benefit from the great thinking they've done.


The problem with deep discount ebook deals
Joe Wikert says publishers should move away from one-product deep discount campaigns and start thinking about how to build a much more extensive relationship with customers.




Android Open, being held October 9-11 in San Francisco, is a big-tent meeting ground for app and game developers, carriers, chip manufacturers, content creators, OEMs, researchers, entrepreneurs, VCs, and business leaders. Save 20% on registration with the code AN11RAD.

September 07 2011

Four short links: 7 September 2011

  1. Comparing Link Attention (Bitly) -- Twitter, Facebook, and direct (email/IM/etc) have remarkably similar patterns of decay of interest. (via Hilary Mason)
  2. Three Ages of Google -- from batch, to scaling through datacenters, and finally now to techniques for real-time scaling. Of interest to everyone interested in low-latency high-throughput transactions. Datacenters have the diameter of a microsecond, yet we are still using entire stacks designed for WANs. Real-time requires low and bounded latencies and our stacks can't provide low latency at scale. We need to fix this problem and towards this end Luiz sets out a research agenda, targeting problems that need to be solved. (via Tim O'Reilly)
  3. eReaders and eBooks (Luke Wroblewski) -- many eye-opening facts. In 2010 Amazon sold 115 Kindle books for every 100 paperback books. 65% of eReader owners use them in bed, in fact 37% of device usage is in bed.
  4. VT220 on a Mac -- dead sexy look. Impressive how many adapters you need to be able to hook a dingy old serial cable up to your shiny new computer.

September 02 2011

July 28 2011

Books as a service: How and why it works

Justo Hildago (@justohidalgo), co-founder of 24Symbols — a kind of Netflix for ebooks — says books as a service not only benefits readers, but publishers as well. Hildago outlines his company's business model and explains the benefits it offers in the following interview.

Hidalgo will also expand on these ideas at TOC Frankfurt 2011 in October.

How does 24Symbols' business model work?

Justo HidalgoJusto Hidalgo: 24symbols is a subscription service that lets users read in the cloud, and it includes social capabilities. This means that the user does not need to download the ebook. The book goes wherever you go — read it on your laptop, iPad, smartphone, and so forth.

We have a freemium business model. Users can subscribe for free in order to read ad-supported books online. Or they can pay a monthly, quarterly or yearly fee to access a bigger catalog with no ads, and with additional capabilities, such as reading offline — on the plane, on the subway, or in any place where Internet connectivity is not available.

What we're offering is quite different compared to what the big players are doing. We're offering an alternative approach — a new channel where publishers can provide additional value to the readers, and where readers can take advantage of what the Internet is offering.

How does your model benefit publishers?

Justo Hidalgo: There are three main benefits for publishers:

  • Piracy — Though not as high yet as in music or movies, piracy in books is clearly increasing. Publishers can either wait until the numbers get so high that nothing can be done, or they can act accordingly. The examples of Netflix and Spotify show that if you give users a compelling way to consume paid content, they will pay for it.
  • Cannibalization — We don't believe books are dead, but rather that they will co-exist with their digital counterparts. 24symbols helps in that coexistence as a way to easily re-direct traffic to retailers — if you love a book on 24symbols, give it as a gift; if you read for a while but still prefer the printed version, buy it.
  • Books as a service — The trend toward consuming content from the cloud is clear and inevitable. Publishers must start positioning themselves in an area that is already profitable in many businesses and clearly will be soon in the book industry. The benefits it brings to publishers — statistics and data gathering, close revenue control, and the ability to experiment — override the current concerns.

Additionally, we share revenue with publishers. The way to do this is by having a common revenue pool where we include all book-related ad revenue and the paid subscriptions. For a specific time range, such as a month, this revenue plus the number of pages that have been accessed throughout that period gives us the "price per page." Then we just count the number of pages per publisher and pay each publisher accordingly.

TOC Frankfurt 2011 — Being held on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011, TOC Frankfurt will feature a full day of cutting-edge keynotes and panel discussions by key figures in the worlds of publishing and technology.

Save 100€ off the regular admission price with code TOC2011OR

How are publishers responding?

Justo Hidalgo: We're finding lots of interest from publishers. Most of them understand how our model can help them and since we're quite flexible regarding how to start, it's easy for them to begin by publishing some content in order to experiment. We're adding new books to our catalog every week, and we're finishing some deals with big publishers that will provide a "seal of quality" to our project.

Is piracy a concern for you?

Justo Hidalgo: The project itself was born with piracy in mind. As I mentioned before, piracy is increasing in the ebook market. This doesn't help the industry, as it didn't help other cultural and entertainment industries, but it clearly shows a shift in how content is accessed and consumed. We offer a solution that's based on a proven premise: if you provide readers with a convenient, unified and affordable way to access content, people will use it. Once that's achieved, piracy doesn't matter that much.

This interview was edited and condensed.

For more on how 24Symbols works, check out the video below:



Related:


  • Data markets aren't coming. They're already here
  • For publishing, sales info is the tip of the data iceberg
  • Book piracy: Less DRM, more data
  • Ebooks and the threat from "internal constituencies"


  • June 13 2011

    How one publisher uses "aggressive marketing"

    OpenRoadLogo.pngLast month, Jane Friedman landed $8 million in equity financing for her digital publishing company Open Road Integrated Media. In a recent NPR interview, Friedman talked about the company's business model, with 50/50 profit splits for authors and a focus on digitally publishing backlist titles. Friedman noted that "aggressive marketing" is the key to the company's success.

    What does aggressive marketing involve? The NPR piece hinted at a few elements:

    Open Road backs its titles with aggressive multi-platform marketing campaigns, making creative use of the Web, social media and video. The company produces short documentaries to promote its authors.

    For more on what aggressive marketing entails and how the campaigns are handled, I turned to Open Road's chief marketing officer Rachel Chou. Our short email interview follows.

    What does "aggressive marketing" mean?

    RachelChou.pngRachel Chou: Aggressive marketing means marketing throughout the term of contract and not just at the book's launch. It also means balancing real-time marketing vs planned marketing. We build quarterly marketing plans for every author or publishing partner and continue to think of new themes, topics or pitches.

    What kinds of resources are used to market titles?

    Rachel Chou: Each author is assigned a marketing lead who builds out the quarterly plans. We use online advertising, social media ads, video and photo distribution, content partnerships, as well as traditional publicity. In addition, we listen to the social media and online conversations with all the available tools, like TweetDeck, Facebook, and Google alerts.

    Being ready to add high-quality content to a conversation that has just gotten started online has become essential. Real-time marketing vs planned long-term marketing is the most dramatic shift in digital marketing.

    How long does a marketing campaign last?

    Rachel Chou: Our author campaigns go on for the term of contract. If we publish an author, we are committed to having their brand be part of the conversation. Short-term campaigns are added, such as National Library Week or our upcoming summer reading campaign, but those are supplemental to our author campaigns.


    Webcast: Digital Bookmaking Tools Roundup — Pete Meyers looks at the growing number of digital book tools: what's best, what's easiest to use, and what's worth putting in your book-building toolkit.


    Join us on Thursday, June 30, 2011, at 10 am PT


    Register for this free webcast



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