What Happened to Innovation in Publishing?

What Happened to Innovation in Publishing?Remember the excitement surrounding the launch of Amazon’s Kindle eight years ago? It was a clunky device, even by 2007 standards, but it was revolutionary. One of the original Kindle’s breakthrough features was the ability to download books via cellular network. The e-ink display and extremely long battery life also led to its popularity despite the device’s hefty $399 price tag.

That was eight years ago, and it’s hard to name even two or three other innovations that have had as significant an impact as the first-gen Kindle. Sure, the iPad was noteworthy, but it didn’t exactly reinvent reading. And while today’s devices are faster and cheaper than yesterday’s, they feature incremental improvements, not groundbreaking innovations.

The same can be said for all aspects of the digital publishing ecosystem, not just devices. The most interesting development over the past few years is probably the all-you-can-read subscription model. But any momentum there has been halted, as Oyster is about to disappear and Amazon’s offering has no Big Five content.

Much more.

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Facebook Contests to Build a Fanbase (Jane Friedman)
There’s an old online myth that says if you give something away, you will only attract people who are looking for free stuff—fans who will never pay for anything. But, like many marketing myths, this one has no legs. As a matter of fact, contests and giveaways have the opposite effect according to much of the consumer research we see today. Well-timed Facebook contests and giveaways can create a reciprocal relationship with your fans. If you give them true value, they feel a sense of connection and responsibility to pay you back, so to speak.

Why Are Books Getting Longer? (Pub Perspectives)
The average book’s length has grown from 320 pages in 1999 to 400 pages in 2014, a shift some blame on digital publishing.

Want to Succeed in Self-Publishing? (PW)
Daniel Jude Miller jumped into self-publishing after doing no research. “Not really a wise plan,” says Miller, who spent the last 15 years developing children’s stories and illustrations while working as a cartoonist. “I figured, what was the worst thing that could happen?” And while he had never pursued a traditional publishing deal, Miller had a plan: he would build his reader base by releasing his first two projects as ebooks, thus saving money for his third book

SpotlightShelfie Partners with Findaway on Print-Audiobook Bundles (DBW)
Shelfie announced a partnership with audiobook distributor Findaway to offer audiobook bundles to readers on titles from Blackstone Audio, Gildan Media, Hachette Audio, HarperAudio, Naxos Audiobooks and Scholastic Audio.

SpotlightSmashwords Expands Global Ebook Distribution (Smashwords)
Smashwords announced three new partners that further expand the reach of the Smashwords ebook distribution network in the US, Europe and South America. The new agreements with Odilo, Tolino and Yuzu will allow more than 300,000 Smashwords titles to reach new readers at retail, in higher education and at public libraries.

Not-for-Profit Publishers in the ‘Economy’ (Scholarly Kitchen)
What is needed here is an understanding of why mission is important. Academic societies do not include in their missions the need to make money. Money is a means to an end—most likely supporting the supplementary activities that allow their community to thrive. Part of the mission may well be dissemination of scholarship to all those who may be interested, however small that community may be. This is not going to happen in the “economy.” This is not ineptness at all. In fact, what I see is that societies feel as passionate about their dissemination mission as they do about their role supporting their academic communities in other ways. It is a positive force, almost entirely independent of a business-based calculus.


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