ENTRIES TAGGED "ebooks"

Why ebooks & why green e-publishing?

The publishing industry is like a doctor who ignores their own advice

Perhaps you’ve also wondered why the publishing industry produces and distributes all the major climate science information available but doesn’t read it. If it did, publishing could become the standard bearer for global reduction of carbon footprints. This business challenge and its opportunities for growth would benefit everyone.

Publishing, even in its unique position of having catalogues of books and journals detailing the dangers as well as the solutions of climate change, seems impervious to what it produces. As to why, we can ignore that question for now. The world can’t wait for our soul searching. But simply stated, how we produce all books has been separated from what we produce. Therefore we’re not prepared to take our own advice.

Read more…

Comments: 24 |

Digital publishing and the loss of intimacy

The cognitive overhead involved in reading a book has increased tremendously

Reading used to be an intimate experience. Even Amazon, the pioneer in digital publishing, branded its Kindle with a child reading alone under a tree. Books were specially designed to disappear into the background as much as possible, helped by a laundry list of conventions as to language, punctuation, format, and structure, thus allowing readers to direct all their attention and cognitive powers to the text at hand.

The first digital platforms made a decent job of emulating the traditional experience. Certainly, the overhead of managing an Amazon account is something readers could do without, but allowances had to be made. Black text on a white screen was still the reference, and great pains were taken to ease users into this new experience: options were few, and the physicality of the book was heavily reflected in the shape and size of the device.

Read more…

Comments: 15 |

Building an ebook business around analytics

What happens when a web publishing business enters the ebook space?

AskMen, “the leading online magazine for men,” has just launched an ebook publishing program, using the PressBooks Publisher Platform to manage the front-end catalog/website, and back-end ebook production. In the year-and-a-bit since PressBooks launched publicly, we’ve worked with many traditional book publishers, big and small. But what’s most interesting to us is non-traditional book publishers entering the ebook space, because they have the flexibility to approach book publishing in whole new ways.

Especially interesting to us are successful web publishers, mainly because web publishers have the most direct understanding of their readers, and reader behaviour. This skill, and approach, will be critical, we believe, as book publishing evolves. Web publishing is an analytics-driven business. In the ebook world, timely analytics are very hard to come by. And generally, analytics is not something most book publishers prioritize in their business. We believe this will change, as book publishing becomes increasingly digital.

In the interview below, I explore the issue of web vs. ebook analytics with Emma McKay, managing editor of AskMen’s online magazine, and the leader of their ebook publishing program.

Read more…

Comment: 1 |

The book as a standard of quality

It's time for the industry to agree on maintaining certain standards

Publishers have long commandeered respect for the quality of their work. Traditional processes may be cumbersome, reliant as they are on an infinity of minute, specialised steps, but they have helped maintain consistently high standards, at ever-lower prices. Authors may sometimes hold fantastic positions, but publishers have largely upheld their part of the bargain: giving them a clear, intelligible voice.

Read more…

Comments: 2 |

PlayTales one year later

New apps, new technology, and new statistics

In March 2012, Joe Wikert posted an interview with a new bookstore app startup called PlayTales. Since then the app market has continued to grow, and PlayTales along with it.  My name is Kate Shoaf, PlayTales’ PR and communications manager, and I’d like to tell you how we’ve modified our apps and distribution platforms to suit the ever-changing international app market.

Read more…

Comment |

How can we redefine the book?

Where does the "book" stop and the "application" begin?

A book may no longer be a physical object, but its ordinary definition remains straightforward as a “written composition that is intended for publication”. Traditional or digital, we feel confident in our ability to recognise a book.

We barely remember today that early electronic platforms offered fewer visual options than the printed page, and encouraged the release of text-only editions from which even the original covers had been removed. Four short years after the launch of the original Kindle, LCD screens were becoming quite popular in mainstream readers. Today, they are almost everywhere, some of them brighter and sharper than their desktop counterparts.

Read more…

Comments: 17 |

The People’s EBook

A wildly succesful Kickstarter project promises a free, beautifully-simple tool to make e-books better.

“What the photocopier was to zines, we hope the People’s E-Book will be to digital books.” – Greg Albers

Working for TOC, I meet and talk to people from all over the world who are doing incredible things to transform the publishing industry. Sometimes I forget there are people right here in my own Arizona backyard doing some pretty cool things to transform publishing.

Greg Albers

Greg Albers

One such person is Greg Albers of Hol Art Books. Greg is the best kind of book person. He’s an art book person. He’s also prone to thinking outside the book box in big way, and his wildly successful “People’s E-Book” Kickstarter campaign aims to do just that.

We’ve seen publishing/book-related Kickstarter publishing campaigns aplenty, but most focus on a particular project – seeking funding for the making, promotion, and/or distribution on a specific title. Greg’s Kickstarter campaign, “The People’s E-Book” is about creating an ebook production app. One that is both super simple to use and free.

Read more…

Comments: 4 |

The publishing industry has a problem, and EPUB is not the solution

Ebooks are deliberately being made defective through digital restrictions

This article contains my personal views, not those of my employer Lonely Planet.

I’ll be blunt. Ebooks and EPUB are to the publishing industry what Blu-Ray is to the movie industry: a solution to yesterday’s problem made irrelevant by broader change in the industry. Both have a couple of years left in them, and there’s good money to be made while the kinks get worked out from the alternatives, but the way the wind is blowing is clear.

Whenever someone proposes EPUB as a solution, ask yourself a question: what’s the problem they’re trying to solve? As a standard drafted by the IDPF, a self-proclaimed “organization for the Digital Publishing Industry”, EPUB is built squarely to address the industry’s biggest headache: ensuring that, in the digital age, they retain the ability to charge money for distributing content. The best interests of authors or readers simply do not figure in the equation. Read more…

Comments: 64 |

Losing the book as a symbol

Publishing needs to build new symbols for the digital age

Transitioning the publishing industry to digital technologies involves lifting the words out of printed pages, and pouring them into the amorphous containers we call ebooks. Books are no longer the tangible, brick-shaped presence they were: they must, instead, be stretched and poured into and onto any device fit for reading, from the laptop to the Kindle to the phone.

In fact, “the book” no longer designates the physical expression of the text, but the text itself, a self-contained bundle of information, whose structure and boundaries have been jointly defined by the author and the publisher. Picking up a book where you left it no longer involves picking up the same object, but rather the same text on whatever device happens to be at hand.

Read more…

Comments: 11 |

…and along with EPUB 3: New CSS!

Simplifying and eliminating competing visual distractions for the reader

Hopefully you all read Sanders Kleinfeld’s great writeup about O’Reilly’s move to EPUB 3, and the changes and challenges that brings. Along with updating our toolchain, we also revisited our EPUB design and took a stab at improving the user experience. While most of the updates aren’t necessarily very visually exciting or seemingly worth a lot of fanfare, I thought this would be a good opportunity to give some background into the reasoning behind the design choices I made, and some of the limitations we still face, even with the advent of EPUB 3.

Read more…

Comments: 2 |