ENTRIES TAGGED "publishing innovation"

Perceptive Media: Undoing the limitations of traditional media

The BBC R&D department's Ian Forrester talks about the broadcast company's Perceptive Media experiment.

Recent research indicates a clear desire for interactive engagement in storytelling on the part of audiences. Researchers at the BBC are pioneering the concept of engagement and content personalization with their Perceptive Media experiment. The Next Web’s managing editor Martin Bryant took a look at Perceptive Media and its first incarnation Breaking Out earlier this summer. He describes the experiment’s concept:

“Essentially, it’s media — either video or audio — that adapts itself based on information it knows about individual viewers. So, if you were watching a game show that you’d never seen before, it might show you an explanation of the rules in detail, while regular views are shown bonus, behind-the-scenes footage instead. … Other smart ideas behind Perceptive Media include the idea that TV hardware could automatically recognize who was watching and tailor the content of TV to them automatically.”

I reached out to BBC R&D researcher Ian Forrester to find out more about Perceptive Media and the potential for the concept. Our interview follows. Forrester will further discuss the Perceptive Media experiment and its potential applications at TOC Frankfurt Conference on October 9, 2012.

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Publishing News: Is Medium an evolution or a mashup?

Biz Stone and Evan Williams look to evolve publishing, the EFF offers further arguments against TPP, and a new report offers insights into the ebook market.

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

An “evolutionary leap” toward the future of publishing?

The Obvious Corporation, led by Twitter and Blogger co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams, launched a new publishing platform this week called Medium. Williams writes in a company blog post that they feel media and publishing can be done better, and that Medium is intended as an “evolutionary leap” in the right direction. He describes how the new platform will work:

“Medium is designed to allow people to choose the level of contribution they prefer. We know that most people, most of the time, will simply read and view content, which is fine. If they choose, they can click to indicate whether they think something is good, giving feedback to the creator and increasing the likelihood others will see it.

“Posting on Medium (not yet open to everyone) is elegant and easy, and you can do so without the burden of becoming a blogger or worrying about developing an audience. All posts are organized into ‘collections,’ which are defined by a theme and a template.”

Joshua Benton at Nieman Lab says that the new collaborative publishing platform raises “fundamental questions about how content on the web is structured” and looks at the evolution of the web and individual self-expression. He argues that the most radical aspect of Medium is its approach to authorship — while the platform doesn’t ignore authorship, it definitely makes it a secondary issue to content. He writes:

“Medium is built around collections, not authors. When you click on an author’s byline on a Medium post, it goes to their Twitter feed (Ev synergy!), not to their author archive — which is what you’d expect on just about any other content management system on the Internet. (The fact we call them content management systems alone tells you the structural weight that comes from even the lightest personal publishing systems.) The author is there as a reference point to an identity layer — Twitter — not as an organizing principle.

“As Dave Winer noted, Medium does content categorization upside down: ‘Instead of adding a category to a post, you add a post to a category.” He means collection in Medium-speak, but you get the idea: Topic triumphs over author. Medium doesn’t want you to read something because of who wrote it; Medium wants you to read something because of what it’s about. And because of the implicit promise that Medium = quality.”

Mathew Ingram wonders at GigaOm whether the new platform is all that ground breaking, arguing that “it’s not immediately clear what Medium offers that other services don’t.” Ingram says the service “looks a lot like a mashup of Pinterest and Tumblr.” He agrees that Medium’s approach to authorship, as noted by Benton, is indeed different, but he questions: “Is the combination of a topic focus and a voting system enough to make Medium something magical, in a way that will propel it beyond Pinterest and Tumblr and the growing cohort of other social-web tools and publishing platforms? I would hate to count it out, but I’m just not sure.”

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Publishing News: Self-publishing to be the option of first resort?

Mark Coker talks publishing disruption, the DOJ gets snippy, Robin Sloan programs a book review, and NFC gets a dispenser.

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

Self-publishing disruption

Suw Charman-Anderson at Forbes began running an interview series with Smashwords’ founder Mark Coker this week. The first in the series addressed the disruption of self-publishing in the traditional publishing world. Coker says the traditional publishing model is going to be turned upsidedown, that “self-publishing is going from the option of last resort to the option of first resort.” He notes that self-publishing often has had an associated stigma while traditional publishing has not, but says “over next few years we’re going to see that reverse.”

Coker also argues the disruption to traditional publishing isn’t only going to come from outside the traditional ecosystem:

“We’re also going to see a mass defection of some of the best traditionally published authors. This has already started to happen among primarily mid-list authors, who do reasonably well and then their books go out of print. A lot of those authors are republishing their back catalogues as self-published ebooks, and they are earning more money, enjoying more creative freedom, and having more fun than they did working under the thumb of traditional publishers.”

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Publishing News: Subscription experiments and the dangers of paving cow paths

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 BooksTED 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.

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Publishing News: You may not own what you think you own

Publishing News: You may not own what you think you own

Two lawsuits address digital content copyright, Macmillan puts its money where the future is, and publishers experiment with QR codes.

Courts are establishing copyright laws regarding digital media resale and tweet content ownership, Macmillan is funding the business that will replace it, and QR codes help publishers market and collect consumer data.

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