Pre-publication samples

Fewer restrictions would undoubtedly lead to more sales

This one has been nagging at me for years and I’m amazed none of the major ebook retailers offer a solution. I’m talking about the ability to pre-order an ebook sample prior to publication. Yesterday I received a bulk email from Eric Metaxas, author of Seven Men, telling me the book is “now available.” His team either pressed “send” prematurely or they just want us to pre-order yesterday. The print book didn’t release till today and the ebook doesn’t come out till a week from now. (Btw, why is a publisher delaying the ebook’s release by a week? That’s such out-dated thinking.)

I didn’t want to buy the ebook yesterday but I wanted to request the sample when it’s available. The ebook isn’t released for seven more days so the sample obviously won’t be available till then either. The chances of me remembering to check back next week and request the sample are close to zero.

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Betting on the future of the book

Booktype continues to evolve as a world-class production platform

Visiting London Book Fair last week, many of the stands offered ebook technology or outsourcing for legacy format conversion services. Ebooks might seem a seductive bet to the publisher looking anxiously towards the all-digital future, but I find it hard to imagine them as the total solution for every reader and situation.

Jenn Webb’s post on the digital divide pointed out that authors who go ebook-only may be excluding readers. In my own rural community in England, public libraries are closing or under threat of closure, but hard copy books still circulate widely and re-circulate for pennies in thrift stores and informal markets, or for free among friends. Competing with an almost-free status quo looks like a tough sell, given the up-front cost and limited lifespan of e-reader devices.

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Why Paperight should be distributing your content

Their award-winning platform brings content to the developing world

The opening statement on Paperight’s “about” page says it all:

Paperight turns any business with any printer and an Internet connection into a print-on-demand bookstore.

This isn’t just about distributing content through copy shops though. Paperight helps make content available in the developing world. That’s why Paperight was named “Most Entrepreneurial Startup” from TOC’s Startup Showcase in February. They’re opening an entirely new channel and serving the needs of readers who might otherwise never have access to this content.

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Publishing News: Crowdfunding, the new way to raise money for news

Crowdfunding the news, advice for publishers on surviving the digital frontier, and innovation in library e-lending.

Fundraising for news

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GuardianWitness App

Mathew Ingram reports this week on one entrepreneurial blogger and journalist who, finding local news coverage of his home town lacking, crowdfunded his own hyper-local news blog. Ingram notes that Joey Coleman does not have a journalism background, but after he started a blog reporting local news in his home town of Hamilton, Canada, readers started offering to pay for his reporting. Since then, Ingram reports, Coleman has completed two successful Indiegogo campaigns to fund his work.

In a podcast interview with Ingram, Coleman described his journey into journalism, which started in 2004 with a domain name and a blog that, once he started writing about university news and politics, became one of the most-read outlets for university news and ended up landing him a job with Maclean’s magazine. He eventually returned to his home town to spend a summer working at the local newspaper, which didn’t do much on the web, opening up possibilities for Coleman. “My goal is to build a local news service, where the business model is sustainable for hiring a number of staff … to build a business model around journalism and then expand when I have a base that’s sustainable,” he told Ingram. You can read more about Coleman’s work in Ingram’s report and you can listen to Coleman’s interview in the podcast.

Interestingly, notorious hacktivist group Anonymous has done a very similar thing. Read more…

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We need incognito book purchasing

There are valid reasons for wishing to purchase a book without being tracked

In the physical realm, purchasing a book without revealing one’s identity involves little effort beyond proceeding to a store one does not usually patronise and paying in cash. Unless one is seeking illegal volumes, which are unlikely to be obtained at neighbourhood booksellers’ anyway, these obvious techniques are nearly guaranteed to throw friends, banks, and marketers off the scent.

Alas, there is no such thing as an incognito shopping trip in the digital world. Not only are our transactions permanently etched into our credit card records, they are carefully logged and scrutinised by the stores themselves. Any purchase on Amazon, to name but one, forever hounds us in the form of recommendations, obvious or otherwise. Emails and pages are subtly optimised to highlight content related to our past acquisitions, whether in style, length, or subject matter. While we may be given opportunities to decline outright suggestions, there stops our control of the process — and we must provide a reason for declining, which further enriches our personal file.

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Accessible user interfaces

Open platforms and communities lead to a more inclusive world

For readers in a digital age, interaction with content is ubiquitous. We no longer interact with content through paper, e-readers, or tailored apps alone, but via millions of digital products and web properties designed to streamline our consumption. In recent years there has been much effort allocated to ensuring that content can be accessed by the broadest possible audience, including readers with disabilities. At TOC 2013 a panel presented Born Accessible: An up-to-the minute update on the tools, standards, techniques and developments that support ‘Inclusive Publishing’ practices, focusing on tools and techniques for ensuring that digital content is accessible to as many readers as possible. It’s important to ensure that digital content is accessible and well as ensuring the accessibility of the platforms and systems that deliver this content.

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Author (R)evolution Day videos now available

Learn the essentials of marketplace success in this video package

If you missed TOC’s first Author (R)evolution Day you missed a lot. Cory Doctorow kicked things off and more than 20 speakers followed with terrific presentations on marketing, audience development, choosing service providers, and my favorite topic, data.

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Why I created a Flipboard magazine

It fills an open space between Twitter and blogs

Flipboard MagazineFlipboard recently announced the ability for anyone to become a publisher on their platform. Within two weeks 500,000+ magazines were created. I created one of those and I’d like to tell you why.

Before I do that though, let me tell you how you can get my Publishing 2020 magazine. Since Flipboard isn’t available as a web-based app (which is a shame) I can’t just embed a link to the magazine. Here’s the link Flipboard provides, but it’s nothing more than a short note saying my magazine exists and to download the Flipboard app and search for “Joe Wikert” to find it. That’s not the best approach so let’s hope they make it easier to share magazines down the road.

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Homo abudantia: From Oldowan to Ubiquity

The 'Expression Era' and our long history of content, container, and context

[This is the first in a series of articles intended to identify key watershed moments in the history of content and container.  Our intent is to frame the current moment in this story so that we may better understand the unique and not-so-unique promise of the binary revolution.]

Books, roasting pans, websites, bottle caps: all these are artifacts. They are devised and built by humans; they are physical manifestations of our thoughts, our ‘things’. Our civilization’s vast index of things did not appear sui generi. Rather, our present artifact collection is part of a much larger, older cloud of artifacts – a mist of achievement that has been seeping from our kind and surrounding us all since before humans were human.

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Publishing News: Democratized publishing and the digital divide

Nook Press launches, self-publishing raises digital have-not concerns, ebook subscription tests continue, and BitTorrent wants more books.

Will rise in self-publishing leave world’s digital have-nots behind?

Barnes & Noble announced this week it has upgraded and rebranded its PubIt! self-publishing platform and is launching Nook Press to better compete against platforms such as Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. Laura Hazard Owen noted at PaidContent that the major feature update is the web-based authoring tool the company developed in partnership with FastPencil that allows authors to write, format, edit, and preview ebooks in a browser.

“What we are trying to do here is make self-publishing simple,” Theresa Horner, Nook Media’s VP of digital content, told Owen. “You can come to the product, write, edit and publish into EPUB without ever knowing any bit of technology.”

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