ENTRIES TAGGED "books in browsers"
Combining technologies to create new, richer products
As we sat in Liza Daly‘s and Keith Fahlgren‘s Books in Browsers presentation many of us wondered why she was wearing an iPhone earbud and mic. Many also noticed her words were being transcribed in a tiny box in the corner of the screen.
You've got a problem if your ebook requires user instructions
I’m a kitchen sink guy. When I want to improve something my first thought is to add to it, ultimately creating a product that has everything but the kitchen sink.
I’m not alone. All the bloatware on our computers proves most software companies believe “improvement” means “added features.” But as Google shows every day on their search page, simple is sometimes the best approach.
Today's technologies used for tomorrow's content creation and development tools
Our industry has made significant investments in production systems over the years. We’ve all had to evolve from print-only to the various digital formats (e.g., PDF, mobi, EPUB, web, apps, etc.). I’m always amazed to think about how the emphasis has always been on the back end and yet most of us are still using the same authoring and editing tools today that we used 20 years ago. Sure, new versions of those tools have been released in that time but have they really evolved as much as our production systems have? I don’t think so.
Nook gets webby, Baldur Bjarnason gets angry, and publishing gets surveyed.
Here are a few stories that caught my attention in the publishing space this week.
B&N launches Nook for Web
Just last week, Valobox co-founder Anna Lewis (@anna_cn) wrote a post about the strengths of the web and lamented that ebook publishers have “remained oblivious” to the advantages — her post was part of last week’s Publishing WIR. This week, Barnes & Noble stepped up to the webby plate and announced Nook for Web.
Subscription sales models tested, a "holy trinity" of web opportunities missed, and publishing's future assessed.
Here are a few stories from the publishing space that caught my attention this week.
Publishers test subscription model waters
TED Books launched a new app this week, TED Books for iOS, that not only allows them to sell directly to consumers, but also to experiment with a subscription sales model. Laura Hazard Owen at PaidContent notes that the app also is built on the Atavist publishing platform, which allows for audio features and embedded video. Hazard Owen describes how the app sales model works:
“Readers can buy the books a la carte for $2.99 each or can purchase a subscription: $14.99 for three months of books. That price includes six books, with one new one delivered every two weeks. ‘Founding subscribers’ — those who sign up in the first 90 days — get free access to all the books in the back catalog. (Authors are paid advances and also get a royalty each time their book is downloaded.)”
Jacqui Cheng at Ars Technica took a hands-on look at the app and concluded “that book and subscription prices were right in the sweet spot, though the app itself (while functional) could use a little more polish before it becomes great.” Her observations include issues with subscribers not being able to preview content before downloading; the comment system only applies to books as a whole — there’s no way to highlight a section and comment within the book; and comments also are only viewable to those who’ve already purchased the book, not to potential book buyers. Glitches in social media sharing features, however, seemed to present the most frustrations. Cheng writes:
“I tried to share a TED Book over Facebook via the app, but when I tapped the Facebook option, a white screen came up in the center for a second and then went away. And when I tapped the Twitter button, it simply brought up a blank Twitter box like the one built into the rest of iOS. There was nothing attached — no book summary, no screenshot, not even a link to TED for my Twitter friends to click on. The e-mail sharing option only starts a new e-mail with a picture of the book cover attached. Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed with the sharing options here — they almost may as well not even be included in the app for how limited they are by default.”
You can read Cheng’s entire account of the app here.
In other subscription experiment news, Next Issue launched its all-you-can-read magazine subscription app for iOS this week, a few months after launching on Android. Laura Hazard Owen reports at PaidContent that the platform currently offers 39 titles, “with more expected later this year,” and outlines the various subscription options, from $1.99 to $14.99 per month. But is it worth the money? Hazard Owen concluded that the $14.99 premium subscription ought to be a bargain for her family, “except it doesn’t include print issues and two of the magazines [they] subscribe to, Martha Stewart Living and the Economist, aren’t available, at least for now.” Lauren Indvik at Mashable also addressed the value proposition and notes: “According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’s 2010 Consumer Expenditure Survey, the average American household spends $100 per year on reading materials, a category that includes books, newspapers and magazines.”
Value aside, is it even a model that will work in the age of digital disruption? Mathew Ingram argues at GigaOm that the biggest problem Next Issue faces is that its model of selling entire magazines doesn’t fit the way people are starting to consume content — articles-at-a-time, Flipboard style — and that the platform is “paving a cow path.” Ingram also describes the bigger picture issue that is plaguing magazines as well as newspapers:
“If Next Issue were to pull individual articles out of its magazines and collect them based on popularity or some other algorithm — or made it easy for readers to share individual articles and other content outside the walled garden of the app itself — that might make it more appealing to those who have gotten used to a Flipboard-style model for consuming content. But it’s not clear that magazine publishers would be interested in doing that. For them, the game is about increasing circulation figures so they can try to keep their advertising revenues from bottoming out as print-based revenue continues to decline.”
You can read more on Ingram’s thoughts here.
Pablo Defendini on employing adaptive web design in comic books.
In a keynote address, Open Road Media's Pablo Defendini explored what HTML and CSS can offer to digital comic book design.
Hugh McGuire on the upside of web workflows and the future of book production.
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.
Amazon launched its Kindle Lending Library, and a publisher goes after BitTorrent users.
Amazon Prime became even more pervasive with the Kindle Lending Library, the publishing industry joined the piracy lawsuit fray, and presentation videos from the Books in Browsers conference are now available.
The Books in Browsers conference is underway.
The Books in Browsers conference kicked off this morning. Keynotes, interviews and presentations are being livestreamed today and tomorrow.