Gamechangers: Two important announcements at TOC Frankfurt

Bookshout and txtr aim to disrupt the publishing industry

It’s after midnight here in Frankfurt but I’ve got to give a quick shout-out to two of the most innovative announcements at today’s TOC Frankfurt. First up, txtr and their Beagle device. Watching txtr CEO Christophe Maire introduce the Beagle today reminded me of a post I wrote more than two years ago where I suggested that Amazon should offer an extremely inexpensive Kindle with no wifi or 3G and just have it connect to your cellphone to purchase content.

txtr beat them to it with the Beagle. Watch this video and see if you agree that every man, woman, and child should have one of these cute devices. The Beagle isn’t for you or I though. It’s for all those people who have yet to jump onto the ebook bandwagon. But imagine getting one of these free with your next cellphone purchase/contract. You buy ebooks on your phone and move them to your Beagle via Bluetooth. Brilliant!

Then there’s BookShout. I introduced BookShout CEO Jason Illian at TOC today and I told the audience he was about to make a very important announcement. Jason’s company is helping us take the first steps towards tearing down the walled gardens around two of the biggest ebook platforms: Amazon’s Kindle and B&N’s Nook.

As you’ll see in this BookShout press release, you can now import your Kindle and Nook ebook purchases into the BookShout social reader platform. I just moved all my Kindle ebooks into it. What a liberating experience. I was half-tempted to open my hotel window and yell out, “Mr. Bezos, tear down this wall!” 🙂

I’ll write a couple of more in-depth pieces about both txtr and Bookshout before the end of the week. In the meantime, let’s raise a glass and toast the industry innovators and disruptors!

Where is textbook publishing heading?

Sheila Bounford's TOC Frankfurt panel will offer guidance

This post originally appeared on Sheila Bounford’s Off the Page Ideas Blog. This version has been lightly edited.

Further to yesterday’s post about next week’s #TOCFFM #DIGTXT panel discussion on the changing face of textbook publishing: here’s a little more about the members of our expert panel for the session:

Amir Winer is Head of Video & Interactive Courseware at the Open University of Israel. He is responsible for migrating over 1,000 textbooks of the University’s academic press from print to interactive digital formats as part of the University’s Digital Textbooks Initiative. He is also responsible for producing academic video courseware and interactive learning objects. As if that wasn’t sufficient he also acts as a Government advisor on Education, and has direct experience of how national educational policy can influence the shift to digital and to new business models.

Michael Cairns (known to many of us as @personanondata) is a publishing and data veteran, having run Bowker, and consulted with many global academic publishers durning the course of his career. Most recently he has been an advisor to SharedBook who he joined full time in early 2012 – since when he has rolled out their academic service, AcademicPub.Com.  Followers of Michael’s blog will know that he has a deep interest in academic and educational publishing, and has been an informed and insightful commentator in this area for many years.

Before joining Ingram’s VitalSource® in 2006 William Chesser was Assistant Director of Training for the National Paideia Center, a teacher-training and instructional-development organization in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel where he worked with a high-profile collection of educators from around the U.S. to develop classroom innovation strategies and techniques and to deliver them to school systems across the country. At Vital Source, William has been instrumental in the early design, development, and implementation of the VitalSource® Bookshelf® e-textbook platform, and has worked closely with many publishers who now take advantage of this platform.

We’re aiming for a lively, interactive & informative discussion. You can jump in now via #TOCFFM #DIGTXT or by emailing me at SheilaB@otpi.co.uk. We’re looking forward to seeing you in Frankfurt next Tuesday morning.

Have you registered for TOC Frankfurt yet? If not, do so now and use the TOCPartner20TSpeaker discount code to save 20%.

The future of educational publishing

Sheila Bounford wants your input on a TOC Frankfurt session

This post originally appeared on Sheila Bounford’s Off the Page Ideas Blog. This version has been lightly edited.

As I’m pathologically unable refuse a challenge, next Tuesday morning I’ll to be in Frankfurt moderating a panel discussion on Digital Textbooks, Online Learning and the Future of Educational Publishing at the O’Reilly/ Frankfurt Book Fair Tools of Change Conference. I’m privileged to be hosting three expert panelists Amir Winer, Michael Cairns and William Chesser all of whom have deep experience of how higher level education is changing – and the ways in which textbooks and learning materials are changing with them.

We’ve been talking between us for some time about how best to run this 50-minute session. The Frankfurt Tools of Change audience is infamously diverse, knowledgeable and yet hungry for insight, which – in combination with the sheer rapidity of technological, educational and commercial change – presents a challenging mix for speakers and panelists. Just as the changing style of pedagogy means that college and university tutors are engaging with students differently – we also need to break away from the conventional PowerPoint x3 and Q&A format.  At risk of sounding dangerously Rumsfeldian – our expert panel know what they know. What they don’t know is what you know, don’t know and want to know. So here’s your chance to tell us.

The format we’re adopting is for each panelist to make some brief opening remarks about how they currently see change in action in the textbook arena. Then we’re throwing it open to you to ask questions, make comments, and get involved. We’ll be taking questions from the audience in advance and during the session through Twitter hashtags #tocffm #digtxt, (and I’m @SheilaB01) or by email to SheilaB@otpi.co.uk. I’ll be producing a post-conference write-up to share online with all participants. We’re aiming for an outcome that’s greater than the sum of its parts – but that’ll only happen if you pitch in.

Questions Kat Meyer of O’Reilly posed when the panel discussion was originally mooted included:

  • What kinds of results have we seen from the early experiments in this field?
  • How are students and educators adapting to digital learning/teaching ecosystems?
  • Should we embed media or link to it online?
  • Should we allow students easy access to the web and online excursions or try to capture their attention in a closed environment?
  • Is learning with tablets more shallow and scattered?
  • What are benefits of open platforms vs proprietary?

To those we’d add:

  • How is faculty influencing and even dictating content and format?
  • Will licensing income supersede conventional sales –and if so are Publisher’s current commissioning approaches sustainable?
  • Where are the business models headed?

We’ve also some suggested background reading for you – just to get you grey matter in gear for the matter in hand. In the past seven days alone these posts have all weighed in to the debate with relevant information:

This post tweeted by Joe Wikert of O’Reilly references Matt MacInnis devastating phrase “The textbook has become this crutch holding everybody back” (it’s on the second page of the article)

This piece from Inside Higher Ed on Elsevier and free textbooks (although interestingly the stats suggest that the free books have actually driven sales of the bought edition)

Brian O’Leary’s post (referencing the work done by Michael’s company)

Get reading. Get thinking. Get asking. Get tweeting: #TOCFFM #DIGTXT. Let’s make 50 minutes next Tuesday much greater than the sum of its parts.

Have you registered for TOC Frankfurt yet? If not, do so now and use the TOCPartner20TSpeaker discount code to save 20%.

Applications of altmetrics allow for nuanced innovation in publishing

The digital transformation in publishing is bringing forth more than new reading platforms, gadgets and distribution options — it also brings a wealth of data publishers have never before had access to, data that can be applied to new marketing and production strategies, and used to help create more efficient business models.

As data becomes more and more central to publishing ecosystems, traditional methods of metric collection and analysis are proving insufficient. This need for new measurement techniques has given rise to a new metrics approach called “alternative metrics.” I reached out to Todd Carpenter, Executive Director of NISO, to find out what’s behind the changing data needs and more about how altmetric applications can benefit publishers. Carpenter will explore this topic further at TOC Frankfurt on October 9, 2012. Our interview follows.

What are alternative metrics?

Todd Carpenter: Alternative metrics — referred to as “altmetrics” — are a suite of assessment criteria and measures that are being developed, particularly in the scientific and academic communities, to assess the importance of a particular work of scholarly output in a new way.

Traditional metrics have been downloads, citations, or sales — generally based on publication-level data. For example, the Thomson Reuters Impact Factor, one of the most widely used metrics in scholarly publishing, measures quality at the journal level by measuring the number of citations to it in other journal articles. As academic publishing has expanded and diversified, these traditional metrics have been increasingly criticized for issues such as their granularity (i.e., measuring at the publication level, not the item level), or their bias toward citation, which is a common practice among researchers but doesn’t reflect more applied, practical, or public use.

The scope of measures that could be considered altmetrics is actually quite broad, ranging from analysis of usage data to social media references; Google Page Rank; deep statistical data analysis techniques, such as betweenness centrality; and other relatedness statistical measures. Also considered for inclusion in alternative metrics are measures of non-traditional types of content production, such as the release of scientific data sets, blog posting, or social media activity — none of which are addressed in traditional metrics.

Read more…

Neutralizing Amazon

Open platforms and services will lead to ebook marketplace disruption

What would you think of a start-up who offers the following?:

    • Selling ebooks in a model where one simple transaction gives you access to all formats (e.g., PDF, mobi and EPUB).
    • All those ebooks are available in a completely DRM-free manner. There’s no social DRM applied either.
    • Every ebook can be quickly and easily side-loaded to the device of your choice. Got a Kindle? No problem. All purchases will be sent right to it. Same goes for Nooks, Kobos, etc. No more awkward installations with USB cables.
    • No restrictions on reselling your content or loaning it to someone else. Are you finished with that ebook and have no plans to ever open it again? Why not resell it or pass it along to a friend like you’d do with a print book?
    • Enabling and, more importantly, encouraging publishers to have a direct relationship with their customers through this retailing platform.

Sounds too good to be true? I don’t think so. Here’s why…

One of the benefits of working at O’Reilly and being chair of our TOC conference is that I cross paths with countless industry start-ups throughout the year. I’m seeing evidence that many of today’s publishing industry challenges, particularly the closed, proprietary systems that are forming all around us will soon be met with some very cool and disruptive open alternatives.

What would that mean for a platform like the Kindle? Nobody’s knocking Amazon off the mountaintop anytime soon but these open-minded start-ups are going to make things very interesting. I wouldn’t be surprised if all the elements of the start-up outlined above are in place before the end of 2013. Then it’s just a question of tying them all together.

P.S. — If you’re attending TOC Frankfurt on October 9 you’ll get a first-hand look at some of this. I can’t share the details just yet but in a few short weeks you’ll see what I’m talking about. If you haven’t registered yet do so now with this code and you’ll save 20%: TOCPartner20TSpeaker

Kindle Fire vs iPad: “Good enough” will not disrupt

Horace Dediu addresses the Amazon-Apple threat level.

With its recent release of the new Kindle Fire HD tablets, some have argued that Amazon has declared war on Apple and its iPad. But how serious is the threat? Are the two companies even playing the same game? I reached out to analyst Horace Dediu, founder and author of Asymco, to get his take. Dediu will speak on all this and more at TOC Frankfurt on October 9, 2012. Our short interview follows.

How disruptive is the Kindle Fire to the low-end tablet market?

Horace Dediu:The problem I see with the Kindle is that the fuel to make it an increasingly better product that can become a general purpose computer that is hired to do most of what we hire computers to do is not there. I mean, that profitability to invest in new input methods, new ways of interacting and new platforms can’t be obtained from a retailer’s margin.

Also, there is a cycle time problem in that the company does not want to orphan its devices since they should “pay themselves off” as console systems do today. That means the company is not motivated to move its users to newer and “better” solutions that constantly improve. The assumption (implicit) in Kindle is that the product is “good enough” as it is and should be used for many years to come. That’s not a way to ensure improvements necessary to disrupt the computing world.

Lastly, the Amazon brand will have a difficult time reaching six billion consumers. Retail is a notoriously difficult business to expand internationally. Digital retail is not much easier than brick-and-mortar. You can see how slow expansion of different media has been for iTunes.

Read more…

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.

Read more…

TOC Frankfurt launches with a global ebook market survey

TOC Frankfurt launches with a global ebook market survey

Free report: "The Global eBook Market: Current Conditions & Future Projections"

"The Global eBook Market" survey examines how the main drivers of digital change in the publishing industry impact emerging ebook markets across Europe, Brazil and China.

Mindset over matter

Mindset over matter

Timo Boezeman on the digital transition of a centuries-old analog industry.

In this interview, A.W. Bruna's Timo Boezeman talks about things going right and things going wrong in the digital transition and what publishers should be doing differently. He says the biggest hurdle publishers must overcome is their mindset.