Top 10 Articles of 2010 (Plus, Special Thanks)

Top 10 Articles of 2010 - Digital Book WorldBy Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Chief Executive Optimist, Digital Book World

On January 25, 2010, relaunched from a marketing site for the inaugural 2010 Digital Book World Conference to a year-round content site dedicated to serving the needs of the publishing community of the 21st century — a thriving group of publishers, editors, marketers, agents, booksellers, librarians, authors, and even avid readers of all kinds, bound by their passion for books and an optimism about the future.

Since then, we’ve published over 250 articles, hosted over 50 live WEBcasts and Roundtables, and have proudly become a member of some truly engaged communities on Twitter and on LinkedIn.

As the countdown to Digital Book World 2011 continues, here’s a look back at the 10 most popular articles we published this year:

How to Measure the Value of Editors
By James Mathewson, Editor in Chief,

Because editors are often seen as unnecessary, we at IBM conducted a study to demonstrate their value for some of our marketing pages. We took a sample of unedited pages with high traffic from across our various business units and ran them through Dave Harlan, the editing lead for the group that creates a lot of our marketing content. We then ran an A/B test, where we served the unedited versions to a random sample of users and the edited versions to the rest of the users. We then measured engagement (defined as clicks to desired links on the page) on those pages over the course of a month.

The results were astonishing.

Google Editions: What We Know (and Don’t Know)
By Eric Freese, Aptara Solutions Architect

As is typical, Google plans to derive most of its revenue from Editions through advertising, and hasn’t alluded yet as to what prices books will be sold (competitive is the best estimate right now), what pricing model they will use, or what cut they will take.  Several sources have reported that publishers will be able to name their own price for their Editions books.  Other sources have reported that Google will give publishers 63% of revenues from eBooks sold directly to customers, and 45% for those sold through retailers, with a small share going to Google.

My First 36 Hours with the iPad
By Eric Freese, Solutions Architect, Aptara

There is a notable difference in presentation between eBooks sold as apps and those sold through the iBookstore as EPUB-formatted books; the former are simply stunning.  I downloaded the Grimm’s Fairy Tales app from Vook and the Disney Toy Story app.  Although I’m not sure what the videos contributed to the stories in the Vook app, it was interesting how video could be included in-line with the text of the story.

In the Disney app, however, I was simply amazed at the graphics and use of different layers within the images to produce an almost 3D effect.  My youngest child (8 years old) got the privilege of playing with the book/app; she loved being able to turn off the read-along feature, sing along with the songs from the movies, and color scenes from the book.

Getting Past “Good Enough” eBooks: Liza Daly

Liza Daly‘s presentation at the 2010 Digital Book World Conference was one of the most talked about, and she has agreed to share both her slides and her notes with us here.

For some publishers, digital makes up 5-10% of unit sales, and the rate is increasing every day. It’s time to make ebook quality control a priority and not an afterthought. Liza Daly of Threepress Consulting will demonstrate the seven deadly sins of eBooks and how to fix them. It might hurt at first, but consumers notice. Let’s make digital books as carefully crafted as their print counterparts.

[NOTE: Watch the entire presentation here.]

eBook vs. Hardcover: Beyond the Headlines
By Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Chief Executive Optimist, Digital Book World

Beyond the obvious — “eBooks are an increasingly popular format for reading books!” — three interesting takeaways stand out for me.

First, as The New York Times reports, “Amazon’s latest sales figures are ‘clearly an indication that the iPad is complementary to the Kindle, not a replacement,’ said Youssef H. Squali, managing director at Jefferies & Company in charge of Internet and new media research.” Despite 3 million iPads and 5 million iBooks downloads, Amazon’s significantly larger inventory of eBooks (paid and free), their full embrace of “Buy Once, Read Everywhere” (including the iPad), and their long-standing relationship with book buyers is a tough combination to compete with. For Amazon, it’s not about the device and never has been; the long game was always about leveraging their existing customer base and becoming the dominant seller of eBooks.

How Many Kindles Have Really Been Sold?
By Michael Mace, Principal, Rubicon Consulting

Roughly 2% of American book buyers over age 13 are active ebook users, meaning they obtained an ebook or a reader device in the last year. About half of those were first-time ebook buyers, so the usage of ebooks has probably roughly doubled in the last year. BISG is doing multiple waves in the survey, and says it found a 25% increase in ebook usage just over the holiday season, so it was a pretty good Christmas (and Hanukkah) for ebooks.

The most-used device for reading an ebook is a personal computer (47%); Amazon Kindle is number two (32%), followed by Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch (21%).

Either there’s something wrong with the numbers, or Amazon hasn’t sold quite as many Kindles as some people think.

The $75 eBook: A True Story
By Aaron Wall, CEO,

In February 2008 I launched a membership site which incorporated training modules, a private SEO community forum, and private member’s only SEO tools.

To help get the community up and running, I gave our ebook customers a free 3-month trial to the membership website. The first 100 members were able to join for $50 a month, and after that we raised the price to $100 a month. After about a year or so we had something like 500 members, but the site had many conversion issues we needed to fix. After a few months of working with Conversion Rate Experts, we improved our conversion rate by making registration more compelling and optimizing the conversion funnel.

We set our membership limit at 1,000 members, but as we got close to that limit it was clear that it was still a hard number of clients to keep servicing. I raised the price for new members to $150, but the demand still exceeded supply, so I ended up having to close the site down to new member registrations for about 3 months.

Why Books? 9 Reasons to be Optimistic
By Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Chief Executive Optimist, Digital Book World

For most people in publishing, the love of books runs deep. Not solely focused on the printed book, either, but a passion for the stories they contain (and the authors who created them), and an excitement for the myriad new opportunities to share those stories with more readers via more mediums than ever before imagined.

Because I’m a firm believer in surrounding one’s self with smart, optimistic people, I asked several colleagues who I think are doing interesting, innovative things in and related to publishing to answer one simple question:

I’m excited about books because…?

iPad Revisited: 5 Topics for Publishers to Consider
By Samir Kakar, CTO, Aptara

Getting eShelf Space: Many medium and small publishers continue to encounter barriers in getting access to the various eBook stores. There are many reasons, including exclusivity requirements and revenue sharing agreements, to name a couple. These publishers are looking for partners to assist them not only in preparing eBooks, but also in getting them into online outlets. Some outlets are looking to aggregators to act as intermediaries between themselves and smaller publishers and self-publishers. As more and more online outlets emerge, the role of these aggregators will increase, possibly creating a new service category within the eBook publishing industry.

O Brave New eBook
By John Ott and Eric Freese, Aptara

This all sounds great, right? So when—? In about ten weeks. Plus the time it takes publishers to learn their way around Apple’s new, revolutionary iPad and start putting product on the market.

Apple’s iPad is likely to be the first tablet device to capture the public’s imagination and the mass market, opening the floodgates for similar devices and sparking a gold rush among eBook publishers. Its ability to incorporate color, video, interactivity, and sound into the eBook experience, along with its user-friendly touch-screen interface, means that publishers will now have to move beyond the model of simply reproducing printed pages on an electronic screen. The distinction between eBooks and apps will disappear.


I’d like to offer a sincere thank you to all of our contributors this past year, including our Community Partners at Aptara, who delivered up loads of insightful content via their articles and WEBcast participation, and set a great example for how smart  technology vendors can become valued members of a community. A special shout-out to Marian Schembari and Emily Williams, for their excellent articles throughout the year, digging beneath the hype to deliver invaluable insights and inspiring profiles of the real, often unheralded game-changers in the publishing industry.

Another shout-out to our Community Advisors, who helped me out as sounding boards, WEBcast panelists, and personal inspirations throughout the year.

Thank you to our Conference Chair, Mike Shatzkin, the Conference Council, and F+W Media’s Events team for their incredible work putting together our Digital Book World 2011 Conference, which promises to be the must-attend publishing conference of 2011.

Finally, the most important “Thank You” of all goes to the numerous people in publishing who have wholeheartedly embraced Digital Book World as a member of the community, sharing our sense of optimism for the future of publishing by sharing their knowledge, insights and experiences with the broader community.

It’s been an exciting year for both DBW and the publishing industry, in general, and we look forward to 2011 being bigger and better than even the most optimistic outlooks might imagine!

On behalf of Matt Mullin, Nancy Miller and the rest of the DBW team at F+W Media and The Idea Logical Company, Happy New Year!

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez is the Director of Programming & Business Development for Digital Book World, and a published poet, writer, and active blogger since 2003. An old and new media pragmatist, social media realist, and marketing strategist, he views publishing as a community service, and is optimistic about its future.

4 thoughts on “Top 10 Articles of 2010 (Plus, Special Thanks)

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