DBW Weekly Roundup: 7/23/10

DBW News RoundupDigital Book World presents a weekly round-up of some of the most interesting news, commentary and tweets related to publishing that you may have missed, from all over the digital book world: 

The Internet As Competition To New Non-Fiction Books 

  • There is lots of talk about how curation is a key tool for publishers in the modern era and I agree, but we underestimate the ways in which curation can happen. Suite101 is curating the Cognative Surplus that Clay Shirky talks about and harnessing it to its own advantage and it’s reader’s demands. Publishers could be doing that for niche subjects as easily as Suite101. Publishers, with experts in certain fields already on their books on niche subjects, SHOULD already be doing it.

 Comic-Con 2010: From Tron to Angelina Jolie (via peanut butter) 

  • Britain’s China Mieville (Kraken) allowed a light shower to fall on this parade. “Unfortunately, awesome plus awesome doesn’t necessarily lead to more awesome,” he pointed out, before making himself very unpopular with the audience by casting aspersions on the utter bliss of the Reese’s formula. “Above all, genres are marketing categories. Even what’s described as literary fiction is a genre; in Britain, it’s just the result of a very successful marketing campaign to persuade readers that it’s not a genre. But even if you think genre is a marketing idea, that isn’t to say it doesn’t have its own integrity and protocol. If you set really stupid, rigid rules for yourself, you can rise to the occasion.”

 United Artists Redux 

  • If a similar group of content creators were to establish a new “United Artists” organization they wouldn’t find it difficult to hire executives to act on their behalf to establish a new publishing organization. This new organization would be unencumbered by either the traditional publishing model or (more importantly) the cost structure of the business. These United Artists would sit atop an organization that would be largely supported by external third-party agreements with accounting firms, editorial and production services, distribution and fulfillment, etc. Important value-added services such as marketing, promotion, content rights and licensing – those functions that, by definition, worked closest to the content creators and added real value to the consumer experience would be full-time hires of United Artists.

 The iPad is Great But Remember—It’s Apple’s Way or the Highway 

  • Most digital magazine vendors are offering an iPad app these days and serve as an intermediary between the publisher and Apple. But working with Apple can be frustrating for them as well. “It’s tough because they really want you to play by their rules,” Marcus Grimm, marketing director at NXTbook Media, tells me.  “In the process of submitting our app to the Apple Store, we wanted to include Omniture tracking because our publishers have come to expect a lot of data. Apple has been very upfront about saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to watch how much data you can give people.’ The Apple process says, ‘If you do anything special with tracking, please let us know ahead of time so we can guide you’ and we wrote a long e-mail about what we wanted to track and why, and their response was, ‘We won’t comment until you submit the app.’ We’re developing according to how we think they’ll react but that’s not really a business partnership. You just read the spec guide and say a prayer.”

 One-Word Explanation of Why Enhanced E-Books Won’t Work  

  • Unfortunately, Aronson doesn’t address how the book’s creator would divide payments among movie companies, music composers, photographers, videographers, and garden variety authors.  Nor does he venture into the question of how to place comparative values on a one paragraph quote from an obscure journal versus a three minute clip from a blockbuster movie versus a top-of-the-charts hit song. Nor does he tell us how a humble little vookmaker will be able to afford the permissions cost of all that imported content when even a few minutes of music will bust his budget. In all likelihood Aronson didn’t venture into this territory because it’s radioactive.

 Emanata: The Phone is the Panel is the Page 

  • That’s not just a philosophical abstraction: it directly affects the way readers perceive every image in a comics narrative. If a panel occupies the entire screen of an iDevice (without, say, a browser providing a frame within the frame of the device), the border around it is also black rather than white. As a very simple example, the image on this Frank Miller cover, in print or without a border in a context that normally has one, gives the jolting impression of everything but its central figure having fallen away. Put it on a computer screen, inside a thin blue border (as at that link), and it becomes much less effective; surround it with a thick black border, and it’s just got a bunch of negative space. The following issue’s cover, on the other hand, is a fine piece of work in print, but I bet it’d be even more bracing bordered by a black screen–the web would look like it was superimposed on the screen itself.

 Tweet of the Week 

Bradley Robb on Kindle

That’s just a taste of what you may have missed this week. To stay on top of the most interesting news, commentary and tweets related to publishing, keep in touch via our RSS feed, follow us on Twitter, join your publishing colleagues in our LinkedIn group, and connect with the broader DBW Network.


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