ENTRIES TAGGED "digital textbooks"

Publishing News: Publishing’s worst-case fate, Amazon as US Steel

Possible fates of the publishing industry, Google appeals court ruling, an open source book scanner, and your textbook may be looking at you.

Here are a few stories from the publishing space that caught my attention this week.

Applying an historical perspective to the fate of the publishing industry

NPR’s Adam Davidson looked this week at the Penguin-Random House merger from an industrial historical perspective. In a piece at the New York Times, Davidson looked at the effect of mergers in other industries, such as U.S. Steel — instead of competing by innovating new and cheaper ways to make steel, owner J. P. Morgan opted to merge three companies and buy most of the iron ore range from which most steel companies purchased materials. The consequences were dire all around. Davidson writes:

“As a result, the company hardly worried about competition; it had little need to innovate or compete on price, which made everything from cars to soda cans more expensive. Worse, it left a massive industry unprepared for the growth of innovative Asian companies during the 1970s and 1980s. By then, U.S. Steel all but collapsed, and a chunk of the U.S. economy went down with it.”

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Publishing News: Two publications shift focus from print to digital

Newsweek ends print, The Guardian hires a digital strategy director, libraries own Random House ebooks, and Kindles go to school.

Here are a few stories from the publishing space that caught my attention this week.

Navigating the print to digital shift

After 79 years of print production, U.S. weekly news magazine Newsweek will be shutting down its printing presses and going all-in on digital by the end of the year. Darrell Etherington reports at TechCrunch that the final print edition will publish on December 31, 2012, and the digital edition of the magazine will be renamed Newsweek Global. Etherington quotes a memo from Newsweek editor Tina Brown explaining the thought process behind the move:

“Currently, 39 percent of Americans say they get their news from an online source, according to a Pew Research Center study released last month. In our judgment, we have reached a tipping point at which we can most efficiently and effectively reach our readers in all-digital format. This was not the case just two years ago. It will increasingly be the case in the years ahead.”

Jaar Newsweek-sm by Julian Stallabrass, on Flickr

There is much speculation as to whether or not this strategic move will succeed. Felix Salmon at Reuters argues in no uncertain terms that it’s not going to work:

“Once upon a time, Newsweek was a license to print money; from here on in, it will be a drain and a distraction. Merging it into the Daily Beast never made a huge amount of sense, and now it’s being de-merged: instead, its journalism ‘will be supported by paid subscription and will be available through e-readers for both tablet and the Web.’ … The chances that Newsweek will succeed as a digital-only subscription-based publication are exactly zero. If you had a team of first-rate technologists and start from scratch trying to create such a beast, you’d end up with something pretty much like Huffington — which lasted exactly five issues before bowing to the inevitable and going free. “

In somewhat related digital publishing news, there were rumors recently that The Guardian would be ending its print publication to fully embrace digital. These rumors were solidly squashed, but Guardian News & Media is making a move to put digital front and center: this week, the company appointed its first ever digital strategy director.

According to the press release, Zeit Online chief editor Wolfgang Blau will begin his new postion April 1, 2013, and “will work across GNM’s editorial and commercial teams, helping them to grow global audiences and revenues by developing new digital platforms that deepen reader engagement and provide new opportunities to commercial partners.” A spokesman from GNM told Robert Andrews at PaidContent, “We have never had a single person in charge of digital strategy. Given the scale of our digital audience (30.2 million monthly uniques, according to the last comScore), it’s clearly time.”

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Customized self-publishing is the future of textbooks

Customized self-publishing is the future of textbooks

John Conley on where the textbook sector is headed.

In this TOC podcast, John Conley, vice president of publishing and commercial print at Xerox, talks about the textbook market today and what's coming down the road.

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Textbooks should not be consumed in isolation

Textbooks should not be consumed in isolation

How Inkling brings a community of learners into the textbook experience.

In this TOC Podcast, Matt MacInnis, founder and CEO of Inkling, talks about how his company is designing textbooks to treat content as one of the ways to learn from the book.

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Digital Textbooks are for Professors, Not Students

Alex Reid says digital textbook publishers are targeting the wrong customer: it's not about students — they don't like textbooks in any format — it's about professors. From Digital Digs: The person you need to sell is the professor. S/he's the one who orders the book. Then it's up to the professor to explain to the students why they…

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