Digital Production & Technology

Resources and information on the cutting edge of ebook production and design plus insights on the digital technologies that are redefining what’s possible in publishing.

data, code, algorithm, publishers, bestsellers, new york times, books

Is It Possible to Predict the Next New York Times Bestseller?

The upcoming book The Bestseller Code is getting a great deal of buzz, forcing many of us to ask the question, Can one genuinely predict what kind of book will become a New York Times bestseller (typically considered the most prestigious bestseller list)? The promise of a formula for predicting a bestseller is getting...

audiobooks, authors, books, indie authors

Authors, Can You Afford to Produce an Audiobook?

One of the first questions that indie authors and small- to mid-size publishers ask me about audiobook production is, “How much does it cost?” My answer is always, “It depends.” Producing an audiobook is like building a house: your choices dictate your final cost. Each recording is custom-made rather than mass-produced. When people contact...

seo, publishers, google, search, content

5 Traffic-Growing On-Page Optimization Techniques for Publishers

If you’ve read my previous article on keyword research, you’re probably ready to put your optimization efforts into action. Quite possibly the most important part of SEO is content creation, and the optimization of that content. In this article, I’m going to offer some insider tips on how to optimize your content and prepare...

ebooks, pdf, ocr, scan, agents, authors, publishers

What Agents Should Know About Ebooks Made from PDFs

Agents, here’s what you should know about ebooks made from PDFs: they’re not perfect. Knowing this will put you in a better position to protect your authors’ work. While an ebook made from a PDF is almost certainly better than one made from a scan (OCR), don’t fall into the trap of thinking that it...

audiobooks, print books

Why Audio Is Better Than Print

I’m always surprised by the hesitancy with which some people approach audiobooks. Despite their ability to offer consumers a uniquely beneficial experience with the text, the format is frequently met with reservations. Last month, Daniel Berkowitz discussed some of those misgivings in his piece “Audiobooks Make Me Feel Like I’m Cheating” for this publication....

publishers, seo, research, keywords, editorial

Topic (Keyword) Research & Analysis Insights for Publishers

In this article, you’re going to get an insider look at how to effectively research and analyze keywords for print and online publishing. The data that you have at your disposal is incredible, and it’s vital that a publisher extract all the knowledge it can from understanding how its target audience seeks out topics...

augmented reality, ar, publishers, customers, sales, ebooks, print, digital

What Can Publishers Learn from Pokemon Go?

Long considered nothing more than a gimmicky fad, it turns out that augmented reality (AR) is actually alive and well. At least that’s the case when it’s associated with a brand as large as Pokemon. By now you’ve undoubtedly heard all the Pokemon Go stories, and maybe you’ve even dodged a player or two,...

machine learning, publishers, data, search

Loving the Alien: Machine Learning and Publishing

Over the past few weeks, Mike Shatzkin, Neil Balthaser and Ali Albazaz have debated whether machine learning systems will be able to predict a bestseller (Mike’s initial blog post is “Full text examination by computer is very unlikely to predict bestsellers”; Neil’s response is “Yes, Machine Learning Can Help Predict a Bestseller”; and Ali’s...

machine learning, publishers, data, big data

Yes, Machine Learning Can Help Predict a Bestseller

Last month, Mike Shatzkin wrote a blog post titled “Full text examination by computer is very unlikely to predict bestsellers,” in which he described how the claims of the creation of an algorithm that predicts bestsellers, as outlined in a new book The Bestseller Code: Anatomy of the Blockbuster Novel, are impossible. While I...

seo, publishers, keywords, editorial

The Importance of SEO Training for Editorial Teams

Search engines typically represent one of the largest—if not the largest—traffic sources for websites and online publishers, in particular. And publishing houses’ editorial teams hold the keys to this traffic, so it only makes sense to align their efforts with a content strategy that is backed by keyword and topic search volume data. For...

audiobooks, books, content, iphone

Audiobooks Make Me Feel Like I’m Cheating

Let’s get this out of the way: I love audiobooks. Since reluctantly trying them earlier this year, I have found I cannot get enough of them. I listen to them all the time. They have become part of my daily routine. But as I listen to more and more audiobooks—sometimes as many as two...

ocr, optical character recognition, ebook, author, publisher, book

What Authors Should Know About OCR

If you published a book before 2008, its ebook edition was probably created using optical character recognition (OCR). And if your ebook was created using OCR, it probably has typos in it. That’s the bad news. The good news: you don’t have to accept this situation. What’s special about the year 2008? Nothing, really....

How Siri, Alexa and Other IPAs Will Revolutionize Publishing

How Siri, Alexa and Other IPAs Will Revolutionize Publishing

For the past several years, I’ve been writing about how containers, such as books, newspapers and magazines, are slowly fading away. They’ll certainly be around for many years, but their relevance will slip into the background as personalized, digital content streams become more important. The more I think about the future, the more I...

audiobooks, digital audiobooks, authors, publishers, self-publishing

The Audiobook Boom: What’s Happening and How Can I Be Included?

Audiobooks have long been operating in the digital space. Well before ebooks were gaining major popularity, digital audiobooks were helping audio publishing grow. With the introduction of the iPod at the turn of the century and the adoption of smartphones over the last decade, audiobooks have been booming: over the last five years, both...

video, publishers, virtual reality, vr, mobile, augmented reality, self-driving cars

Are We There Yet?

Ebook sales for “traditional publishers” seem to have hit a plateau. In the latest quarterly report from Simon & Schuster, for example, digital sales (including digital audio) fell approximately 10 percent, and HarperCollins has reported drop in digital revenue, as well. In some sectors, this has become a cause for celebration: the book is...

Should Publishers See Themselves as Service Providers?

Should Publishers See Themselves as Service Providers?

Today’s publishers have it pretty rough compared to previous generations: they’ve seen the sequential rise of the Internet and ebook software upend their traditional business models, and in many cases have risen to the challenge admirably. Despite this shift, though, the last thing they want to hear is that more change is coming. Data...

Why Is Text-to-Speech Only an Afterthought?

Why Is Text to Speech Only an Afterthought?

I spend a lot of time commuting to and from work in my car, and I try to use the time wisely. I cycle through a playlist of podcasts every week, but I feel like I’m missing out on other types of content. Regardless of your daily commute, I’ll bet you’d feel the same...

ebooks, indexing, production, e-book

Here’s How Indexing Could Evolve with Ebooks

Last month I shared some thoughts about how indexes seem to be a thing of the past, at least when it comes to ebooks. I’ve given more consideration to the topic and would like to offer a possible vision for the future. Long ago I learned the value an exceptional indexer can bring to...

Automated Cleanup for Word Manuscripts

Automated Cleanup for Word Manuscripts

If you have been doing ebook development for any amount of time, you have heard a lot about XML workflows. These conversations, sometimes in hushed tones of trepidation and other times in hopeful anticipation, usually tend to end in the conclusion that an XML workflow is just not possible, is too costly, or does...

What’s the Missing Ingredient for Unlimited Reading Services?

What’s the Missing Ingredient for Unlimited Reading Services?

I’ve been a fan of unlimited e-reading services for at least a couple years now. When Oyster Books went under I shifted to Kindle Unlimited. For short-form magazine content I use Texture, the offering formerly known as Next Issue. Prices for these services are typically in the $10-15/month range and, for the most part,...

ebooks, sales, publisher

A New Take on Ebook Windowing

Ebook windowing is a technique designed to prevent ebooks from cannibalizing print book sales. The original thinking went something like this: release a new title in print format only, thereby preventing e-cannibalization. The result? Frustrated consumers. If you’re an ebook reader, there’s nothing worse than realizing a digital edition doesn’t exist for that new...

e-reader, ebook, e-reading, tablet, e-ink

No, I Don’t Want a Bigger E-Reader. I Want an Even Smaller One.

There’s been some discussion lately around large-screen e-readers. Michael Kozlowski of Good E-Reader launched an Indiegogo campaign for a larger-than-normal e-reader—13.3 inches—and TeleRead offered a couple different takes (here and here) on the hefty price point Kozlowski is proposing: $699. I should say up front that I don’t use e-readers as often as I’d like...

ebooks, libraries, overdrive

Some Tips to Make Your Ebook Look Great

In my previous post, I offered a few ideas on how to make ebooks feel unique by taking advantage of some visual design cues. But I neglected to mention one crucial step: test, test, test your EPUB and MOBI files on multiple devices and apps. A simple example: try using a very light blue...

The Lost Art of Indexes in Ebooks

The Lost Art of Indexes in Ebooks

When was the last time you used an index in an ebook? Maybe the better question is this: Have you ever used an index in an ebook? One of the challenges here is that most ebooks don’t have indexes—the result of the misguided notion that text search is a better solution. Every so often...

Why I’m Not on the Amazon Echo Bandwagon… Yet

Why I’m Not on the Amazon Echo Bandwagon… Yet

I almost bought an Amazon Echo last November. It was on sale for $129 and I figured it was too good of a deal to pass up. Amazon promised two-day Prime delivery, but they got overwhelmed by all the orders and, like many others, they botched mine and said I might receive it by...

Self-publishing, authors, books, ebooks

How to Make Ebook Design Count

I got into the ebook development game when a typesetting client was seeing terrible results from their machine-made ebooks. Content was garbled and the books were ugly. It was impossible to open a book and tell what you were reading. So it became my mission to create ebooks that were nice-looking individuals, just like...

A Vision for Making Ebooks More Engaging

A Vision for Making Ebooks More Engaging

I’m convinced we’re still in the very early stages of ebook evolution. The current print-under-glass model works great for some books, but long-form digital content has so much more potential. The market will ultimately move beyond the only option readers have today of consuming dumb content on smart devices. Content enrichment is one way...