Do They Still Make Ebook Developers Like They Used to?

ebook developers digital production Laura BradyAre talented ebook developers getting harder to come by? Some in the field believe that they are.

Digital production expert Laura Brady says there are probably several, interconnected reasons for that. For one thing, acquiring the necessary skills can be time-consuming and costly, and candidates who possess them can usually expect higher salaries in other industries.

This, in Brady’s view, suggests “that ebooks still aren’t an especially valued part of a publisher’s output and hence suffer from underinvestment in their workflows, especially since growth for the format has flattened out.”

And that could be discouraging would-be ebook developers from getting into the field. Still, there may yet be cause for optimism.

Much more.

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Amazon Hit with EU Antitrust Probe on Ebooks (DBW)
The European Commission launches an investigation into Amazon’s agreements with publishers, focusing in particular on contract clauses requiring publishers to disclose details of their agreements with other distributors to Amazon. Authorities will seek to determine whether those terms violate European Union trade rules and harm consumers.

European Distributors Weigh Digital Single Market (Pub Perspectives)
A trade organization of seventeen ebook distributors operating in the European Union is helping to establish a common framework for addressing a range of issues—from anti-piracy measure and tax policies to library ebooks and legal considerations—all with the ultimate goal of pushing legislators to create a unified market for digital content in the EU.

No, Wide-Scale Disruption Isn’t Afoot (The Shatzkin Files)
Countering arguments that major upheavals await the publishing industry in the next five to ten years—including one recently put forth on DBW by Vearsa CEO Gareth Cuddy—Digital Book World Conference Chair Mike Shatzkin says the fundamental model is likely to stay intact. We’ll probably see further consolidation, but in Shatzkin’s view the available data (such that it is) doesn’t point to impending change on the scale some have predicted.
Related: New Figures, Same Flat Ebook Market

UK Publishers Cheer Amazon Investigation (The Bookseller)
And no surprise there. Trade organizations representing publishers and agents in the UK say they’re happy EU authorities have chosen to investigate Amazon for anticompetitive practices, something more than one group has called for in recent months.

Amazon to Share Employee Demographics (The Stranger)
Amazon says it will publicly disclose annual demographic data on the number of women and people of color it employs. One commentator sees the move as “a big deal” considering how the tech industry still faces series diversity challenges, an issue it shares with the publishing world.

How to Raise a Baby Start-up (PBS MediaShift)
One leader at a digital media start-up compares getting the business off the ground to becoming a new parent, an experience filled with frustration, sleepless nights and lots of worry about the future. Clever parallels aside, this piece serves as an excellent reflection on the barriers to innovation that newcomers must surmount in order to gain traction in the digital marketplace.
Related: Do Publishers Innovate Too Slowly? Can Start-ups Help?

Kobo Updates Latest E-Reader (Ink, Bits & Pixels)
Kobo rolls out an update to the Glo HD, its newest e-reading device aimed at the premium end of the market, as well as the Kobo Touch. In addition to fixing some bugs, the update also expands readers’ search capabilities.

ICYMI: Five Acquisition Tips for the New Digital Market (DBW)
Now that ebook growth is for the most part flat, many of the strategies acquiring editors and marketers used to propel certain titles to success aren’t paying off like they used to. Here’s one digital publisher’s take on approaches to genre fiction that may be better suited for the current ebook market.

Best-Selling Author Tries ‘Pay-What-You-Will’ Ebooks (WSJ)
Paulo Coelho offers two titles (one in Portuguese, the other in English) free to readers on his website, asking them to pay what they wish if they’re so inclined. The model has been tried in other media before and, as one observer points out, is fairly common as a promotional tool among lower-profile authors.


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