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Publishing News: Amazon's Kindle Format 8 dashes hopes for EPUB3 compatibility

Amazon launches KF8, The Guardian becomes more engaging, and tablet users don't discriminate between print and digital.

The Books in Browsers conference continues today — and it’s being livestreamed. Speakers today include Wired’s Kevin Kelly, BookOven’s Hugh McGuire (@hughmcguire), Kassia Krozser (@booksquare) of Booksquare and Brian O’Leary (@brianoleary) from Magellan Media Partners.

Now, onto a few highlights from this week’s publishing news.

Amazon thumbs its nose at EPUB3, releases Kindle Format 8

AmazonIDPFart.jpgOn the heels of EPUB3 being signed off on, any hopes that Amazon might participate in an EPUB3-united publishing format were dashed when it announced its new Kindle Format 8 — or to keep with the acronym standard, KF8 — ebook format. Martin Taylor has a nice analysis of the format battle over at eReport. Much like EPUB3, the new Kindle format is fancy and shiny, accommodating all the latest web standards (including HML5 and CSS3), but as Taylor points out, the continued incompatible formats keeps things complicated:

But for publishers, it [KF8] could add challenges as the new features these formats offer mean ebook production requirements and costs will scale up. And for the newly-minted EPUB3, it poses a challenge to stay relevant as Amazon';s importance as the number one sales channel might tempt some publishers to bypass it.

This is to say nothing of device and app support issues for continued incompatible formats — and how the confusion might ultimately affect (nay, I say annoy) consumers.

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The Guardian, rising above the fray … again

n0tice from The GuardianAs newspapers continue to struggle to find their way and experiment with out-of-the box ideas, one newspaper continually rises above the fray: The Guardian. With its Open Platform and strong commitment to data journalism, I guess it should be no surprise the newspaper would stride ahead of the pack in crowdsourcing and reader engagement as well.

Along those lines, this week The Guardian launched n0tice, a new social news gathering platform, and @GuardianTagBot, a Twitter-based bot that will search The Guardian’s tags to find the information a user needs.

Megan Garber over at Nieman Lab was all over both stories and provides great analysis — her piece on n0tice is here and her examination of @GuardianTagBot is here.

The new social platform, n0tice, goes way beyond engaging readers with comments or links to send in news tips. It offers readers an entirely separate section of their own. From Garber’s post:

‘It’s a place where you can share news, post details about forthcoming events or let people know you have something to sell or share,’ the project’s FAQ puts it. Just like IRL message boards, ‘everyone else in your locality will be able to see what you’ve posted and also take part.”

This gives readers yet another entry point into the newspaper and another reason to interact with its brand in a much more personal, communal setting than simple comment areas or reader blog setups — not to mention giving The Guardian an additional line into hyperlocal news coverage.

The Twitter bot achieves a similar goal, and then some. Many newspapers signed up for Twitter and/or Facebook accounts and called it a day, but creating the search bot was a stroke of ingenuity: It allows readers to interact with the brand in real time, and the newspaper is using the search results to make improvements to its tagging system.

With both products The Guardian is not only extending its brand to engage readers, but using that engagement to also enhance its brand. Struggling newspapers, take note.

Tablet users are reading books — both digital and print

Fig-24_-Book-Reading-01_1.pngThe Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism released results from a new study this week that took a look at tablet usage in terms of news and book consumption across several categories. Some highlights from the study include:

  • About 4 in 10 people (41%) in the select web-based survey group had read a book on their tablet over the last seven days, but more had read a printed book, 55%. A closer look into these respondents reveals that about half of those who had read books on tablets, 46%, had also read a book in print; while 54% had not.
  • When asked broadly to choose whether they liked print or digital better as a reading platform, 41% said the two were equal.
  • News apps have not become the primary interface for news on tablets — 40% of tablet news users rely primarily on their browser for news. A little less than a third, 31%, say they use both their browser and apps equally, while just 21% rely mainly on apps.
  • When asked specifically about paying for news on their tablets, 14% said they have done so, while 85% have not. Also, 21% said they would be willing to pay $5 and half as many, 10%, said they would pay $10 dollars per month for their favorite source on their tablet if it were the only way to access this content.

The full report is available here.

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  • Troy McConaghy

    The solution to the lack of a common ebook standard is simple. Dennis Ritchie created it for us a long time ago: write your ebooks as apps using C, then compile them to run on every device under the sun.

    P.S. I’m not joking. Check out MoSync and the Marmalade SDK.