Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
by Beth Bacon
Educators often want their students to read a specific section or chapter from a textbook or work of literature—not the entire book. Colorado-based SliceBooks has taken notice of this practice and created a service that enables publishers to easily divide – or “slice” – books, magazines, journals and any PDF or ePub file into smaller pieces. The Slicebooks platform also lets publishers mix and match content to create new custom “remixes.” The platform gives educators the opportunity to buy the content they want—at smaller price points.
Distributing books in small chunks
“Just like with music, we believe all content should be available to educators and consumers whole, sliced and remixable, and our platform makes it easy for publishers to repurpose their content that way,” said SliceBooks cofounder Ron Tomich. Tomich and his team recognize digital content as bits and bytes of data that can be easily transferred and repackaged. This thinking led them to build their service that opens up new purchasing options for educators and readers.
Briefer, cheaper reads
Publishers can use the SliceBooks service to portion ebooks into any number of slices, like sections, chapters and sub-chapters. Educators can quickly get just the content they need for a fraction of the price of the entire print volume. A literature teacher, for example, could buy bunches of poems, or even individual poems, from a poetry publisher who “slices” a large poetry collection. A math teacher could acquire small parts of a comprehensive Calculus text. This allows districts to manage their budgets more wisely and even gain flexibility in their course offerings.
In the past, when books were exclusively published on paper, educators who wanted to use only a portion of a book had two options. They could purchase the entire print book or get permission to excerpt selected content. The permission granting process, however, can be tedious and take up to six months, so it is not uncommon for educators to use a copy machine to get what they need, which means publishers and authors do not get paid.
Possibilities beyond schools
Though Slicebooks makes sense for budget-minded schools, the service reaches beyond education. The publisher of a home renovation book may want to divide up a home remodeling how-to text into different repair projects, then sell “slices” to people who only need information on tiling a bathroom or replacing a faucet.
“Everywhere” can be a bookstore
As the number of bricks and mortar bookstores keeps shrinking, SliceBooks is looking into making sliced content available in new places. The home repair book mentioned above could be available in affordable units for instant download onto smartphones at hardware stores right when the consumer needs it. Biographies of musicians could be presented via QR codes at concerts. Because digital content can be distributed electronically and wirelessly, Tomich believes “everywhere can be a bookstore.”
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