ENTRIES TAGGED "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.
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.
Why our concept of content must evolve in the post-PC era.
One reason that industry disruptions prove so vexing to market leaders is that disruptive waves simultaneously barrel through assumptions about customer needs, industry economics and operational best practices.
Consider the case of the motion picture business, an industry that was disrupted when the “talkie” — once derided as a costly gimmick — subsumed the silent picture in the 1920s.
The takeaway from the film industry’s transition is instructive. The talkie not only changed how movies were made and the economics of the business itself, but critically, it changed our concept of what a movie could be. Read more…
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.
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.
First to market with the riskiest digital offering shouldn’t necessarily be the goal
I don’t think it’s news that most publishers are struggling with the same changes that accosted the music industry a few years ago. Shrinking demand for traditional products coupled with very specific needs for digital content. Challenging times are testing most sectors of the economy and companies of every type are looking for new models of operation. Why then are some companies thriving? That’s the subject of a book I read recently called Great by Choice, by Jim Collins and Morten Hansen. The subtitle, I think, is even more provocative: Uncertainty, Chaos and Luck—Why Some Thrive Despite Them All.
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…
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.