No matter what the trend in ebook sales, digital publishing continues to evolve. New resources have allowed for the development of products that complement and expand the publisher’s mission. Editors have had to give ground to producers and software developers, as new assessment modules, learning objects, multimedia tools and social medial platforms take hold. As a result, traditional production managers are having to rethink workflows and processes. Still, the raw material for all things digital remains the manuscript and, for the most part, that manuscript presupposes a print product in some form.
The challenge now is to maintain the editorial integrity of the ideas, themes and pedagogy central to the content, no matter what the output or format. The problem is most pronounced amongst education publishers, who are now beginning to embrace “digital-first” workflows. Producers of textbook content can no longer afford to take the digital-as-derivative approach.
With digital-first authoring tools (Inkling’s Habitat, MetroDigi’s Chaucer) comes a new siloed workflow and the persistent challenge to maintain a single source of truth. To have the essence of any argument, theorem or syllogism adulterated or obfuscated by a digital interpretation is to defeat the purpose. An author’s meaning and intent cannot be distorted to accommodate a format or media.
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Amazon Books Should Be the Future of Brick-and-Mortar Retail Chains (Gigaom)
Earlier this month, Amazon opened a bookstore in a mall that used to house a Barnes & Noble. Much has been written about this foray into the physical realm: it’s been called a potential library of the future; Amazon itself has been called the Darth Vader of the books business; and some have wondered about the possibilities afforded by a location that bridges online and offline commerce. Those are all interesting considerations, but as with Amazon’s other programs, the secretive company hasn’t said whether this is a small test or the beginning of a larger initiative that will lead to Amazon Books locations across the country. So I don’t want to consider the effect this physical store could have on Amazon. I’d rather question why other brick-and-mortar stores are resting on their laurels.
Amazon’s New Bookstore Flips the Script (TechCrunch)
Amazon’s new bookstore in Seattle has been getting a lot of questions and criticism—but only from people who think there’s still a distinction between online and physical retail. Analysts who try to set up a life-or-death dynamic between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar are missing the point entirely. The real story right now in the $4.5 trillion U.S. retail industry is a broad, systemic shift from a product-based economy toward anew focus on consumer relationships.
I Was an Amazon Drudge (Salon)
My first job after college was in the customer service department at Amazon.com. When I read the recent New York Times piece about the current culture there, my heart sank a little. Looking back, I still feel some nostalgia for the place. I started in 1999 in a department that no longer exists, so the Amazon I knew then is not the one we know today.
A Manifesto for Cookbooks in the Digital Age (Futurebook)
Cookbook publishing goes back centuries, and so far has been surprisingly little altered by the digital transformation that has shaken up other areas of publishing. Cookbooks continue to see strong print sales, not least due to their popularity as gifts, and remain a bright spot on many publishers’ financial reports. Despite this, the limitations and inconvenience of physical books for practical use in the kitchen are clear—they aren’t searchable, they take up lots of space, they can’t easily be wiped clean, and they are not easy to share with others. If cookbooks are to maintain their role in spreading culinary knowledge and inspiration, they must more fully embrace the possibilities of the digital world.
Romance Breaks Post’s ‘No Self-Published Books’ Rule (Washington Post)
It was bound to happen sooner or later: for the first time, a self-published book appears on one of The Washington Post’s best-of-the-year lists. The distinction—bestowed on Alisha Rai’s erotic novel Serving Pleasure—marks a small but telling milestone. Long scorned as the “vanity press,” self-publishing now draws hundreds of thousands of hopeful authors. The vast majority of the books sell very few copies, but each year produces another rock star—an EL James or a Hugh Howey—whose stratospheric success fuels more dreams and brings more legitimacy to the platform.
Who Cares About Format? Just Read (PW)
The Association of American Publishers recently released its 2014 results for revenue in book publishing and journalism, and the final number was $28 billion. According to the International Publishers Association, the U.S. is the largest single market for publishing in the world. Yet we must recognize that the U.S. publishing business is under siege. Books battle for time and attention. How many games of Candy Crush can one person play? Who really needs 2,000 selfies a month? As an industry, we need to call consumers back to books, to rediscover the magic of reading, whether in print or digital formats.
Related: Who Cares How You Read? Just Read (DBW)
How Pressbooks Public Will Help Self-Pub Authors Get Ebooks into Libraries (MediaShift)
As reported by The Bookseller in London recently, a new partnership, “Pressbooks Public,” will enable SELF-e—the 18-month-old service devised to offer indie ebooks to U.S. library patrons—libraries to offer a suite of self-publishing tools to indie authors. Two change leaders, Mitchell Davis and Hugh McGuire, are behind the news. Pressbooks Public is being described as “a new indie author composition” service, which will effectively create a seamless channel for an author’s creation of an ebook available for distribution not only to regular commercial channels but also to U.S. library collections through SELF-e.
Social Media Should Become Publishers’ New Testing Ground (Book Business)
Although digital technology, social media, and a slew of new marketing tools enable more testing than ever before, publishers are by in large using the same guesswork system of the past. In part there is a hesitance to turn literature into a science—a machine that churns out the same type of bestseller over and over. But that fear is unfounded. Today tested literature is already a reality, and it’s resulting in some fantastic titles. But these titles are thriving in the self-publishing arena, leaving traditional publishers out of a significant revenue stream and an opportunity to develop a direct connection with their readers.
Michael Tamblyn Named Kobo CEO (PW)
Michael Tamblyn will take over as CEO of Kobo on January 1st, 2016, succeeding Taka Aiki, who replaced Michael Serbinis in that role in February, 2014. Before joining Kobo, Aiki had been CEO of Fusion Communications, the telecom subsidiary of Kobo parent company, Rakuten. Aiki will become chairman of Kobo and managing executive officer of Rakuten’s global ebook business, which includes Kobo, OverDrive and Aquafadas.
Why We Love the Smell of Secondhand Books (Guardian)
You might say things were going badly for books if, rather than assuming we all encounter them on a daily basis, someone decided to bottle their essence and sell it as an exotic fragrance. “Ahh, paper. Takes me right back.” “This reminds me of when I once went into a library!” Well, that moment seems to be upon us. If I were an ebook impresario, I would be whooping with delight at the sign of the times that is Paperback by Demeter, a scent meant to evoke “a trip to your favourite library or used bookstore.” Where once perfumes promised a ride on a magic carpet to sensual Araby, now they capture the olfactory experience of handing your overdue Catherine Cooksons to a vaguely disappointed librarian.
Modest Start, Big Goals for Korean EduContent Fair (PW)
The inaugural Incheon EduContent Fair, which ended its three-day run last week in the South Korean city, was one of the core programs to highlight Incheon’s status as the 2015 UNESCO World Book Capital. Developed and organized in consultation with the Frankfurt Book Fair, it is aimed at creating a platform for global players in the educational content industry and related IT sectors to display their offerings. It is envisioned as a marketplace for the whole education value chain to exchange ideas and information on the industry while showcasing Asian education excellence.
Baby Boom to Children’s Publishing Boon (PW)
With the end of China’s long-standing one-child policy, experts anticipate that the number of new births per year will increase by between three million and eight million after the new policy takes effect, from the current annual level of 16 million. According to an often-cited figure, the average Chinese family spends $800–$3,000 per year on their children. Spending on children’s education is the second-largest financial outlay for parents, and it includes books—indicating a promising future for children’s books in the country.
NZ Imposes 15% Tax on Overseas Ebook Orders (Bookseller)
The New Zealand government is collecting a 15-percent goods and services tax (GST) on ebooks and digital products from overseas retailers as of October 1st, 2016. Following legislation introduced in New Zealand’s parliament last week, overseas retailers of digital products will have to register and return GST if they supply to New Zealand residents. Those customers placing orders online from foreign retailers will also be charged a 15-percent GST. The move will raise projected revenues of around $NZ40m (£17.36m) for New Zealand.