Do Publishers Innovate Too Slowly? Can Start-ups Help?

“Books gestate very slowly,” veteran publishing entrepreneur Richard Nash observed at IDPF’s Digital Book 2015 conference at BookExpo America in New York City yesterday. “But the life-cycles of start-ups are much shorter.” When it comes to driving innovation, Nash asked, is that mismatch a problem, an advantage or something else altogether? Start-up leaders who joined Nash on yesterday’s panel couldn’t answered that question...

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Authors Guild Pushes for Book Contract Reform

The Authors Guild launched a “Fair Contract Initiative” yesterday designed to rethink what the organization sees as inequitable agreements between authors and publishers in the digital age. Through a series of “commentaries” it will publish on its website, the Authors Guild wants to arm authors with information about key terms over which to haggle with publishers. According Mary...

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HarperCollins Tries Mobile Marketing with Shazam

“We need to be more ambitious about who our audience is,” digital strategist Molly Barton exhorted publishers at the Digital Book 2015 Conference at BookExpo America earlier this week, urging them to look for readers in unlikely places. Now HarperCollins announces a mobile marketing partnership with Shazam, which first came to prominence an app...

HarperCollins Expands LibreDigital Contract for Global Ebooks

HarperCollins extends its partnership with the R. R. Donnelley–owned Libre Digital for global ebook services and metadata management. The multi-year agreement allows HarperCollins to leverage LibreDigital’s Harvest platform, which the company describes in an announcement today as offer tools that help “publishers to scale their digital businesses globally while maintaining visibility and control of their...

HarperCollins Shazam digital ebook mobile marketing discovery readers

HarperCollins Partners with Shazam on Interactive Mobile Marketing

HarperCollins and Shazam team up to offer mobile users access to interactive multimedia content, including “author interviews, special offers, videos, playlists and more,” according to an announcement the publisher released today. The Shazam logo will now appear on certain HarperCollins print and digital titles, and readers who scan their devices across it will automatically launch a...

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Publishing in a Reader-Powered World

Publishers are losing control over the curation of their content, Canelo’s Michael Bhasksar told attendees at IDPF’s Digital Book 2015 conference at BookExpo America yesterday. And readers themselves, Bhaskar said, are taking over. That’s leading publishers and retailers to rethink their marketing and discovery strategies in ways that play into readers hands. But as...

Happenings on the Library Ebook Front

I’m pleased to bring you some news today from the American Library Association (ALA). First, I’d like to announce the release of Digital Futures, our fifth supplement to American Libraries magazine, focused on digital content issues. Two members of the publishing community are contributors, both to the report itself and to our guiding theme...

Discovery Challenges Mount in a Reader-Driven World

Editors and imprints are steadily losing the ability to dictate how their content is curated and discovered, says Canelo co-founder Michael Bhaskar, speaking at the International Digital Publishing Forum’s Digital Book 2015 conference at BookExpo America in New York City this morning. That power, as Bhasksar sees it, has devolved to readers. Or, at...

HarperCollins Adds Ebooks to Follett’s Pre-K–12 Offering

[Press Release] Follett to Offer HarperCollins eBooks to PreK-12 Students Nationwide New agreement supports Follett’s continuing effort to drive literacy; available titles to include Harper Lee’s anticipated ‘Go Set a Watchman’ MCHENRY, Ill., May 27, 2015 – Follett today announced it has launched a robust collection of nearly 18,000 ebook titles for PreK-12 students through...

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Kobo Entices Booksellers to Sell Ebooks

Expanding its partnership with the American Booksellers Association (ABA), Kobo launches a program that rewards booksellers for getting customers to try ebooks. Called “eRead Local” and due to kick off later this summer, the initiative offers booksellers $5 for every new customer they drive to Kobo, plus a $5 credit for customers toward their first...

DBW16 Digital Book World

What’s Next for Digital? What Matters? Why?

Publishers, authors and their business partners converge on BookExpo America in New York City today at a time arguably marked by equal parts stability and uncertainty. Now that the high-octane days of rapid ebook adoption have given way to a more stable hybrid market, the industry faces a new set of questions, among them...

DBW16 Digital Book World

Survey: What Matters Now in Digital Publishing?

The Digital Book World Conference + Expo 2016 is now roughly nine months away, and a program that reflects the emerging issues and challenges facing the industry is already taking shape. The unprecedented depth and breadth of programming this year’s conference delivered was the product of intensive conversations with thought leaders and research into publishers’ most pressing concerns and...

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Customer as King: How to Get an Audience

I often stress in my posts here that the consumer runs the publishing business. It’s always sad when you hear those in the industry patronizing or criticizing the customer, even if it’s just a defensive response to readers failing to show enough interest in publishers’ own output. That the customer holds all of the power is clearer...

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‘Easy’ Publishing Is Hard

There’s no shortage of digital products and solutions on the market aimed at streamlining publishers’ processes and making their businesses more efficient. But as Bibliocloud’s Emma Barnes points out, the most innovative new systems are only as good as their most rickety integration points with existing ones. “If you’re not very careful,” Barnes cautions,...

Emma Barnes Bibliocloud Digital Book World publishing solutions ebook workflows

Why ‘Easy’ Publishing Solutions Hardly Ever Are

Almost every week, a new technological innovation comes to market, promising to save publishers money, streamline workflow, reduce administrative burdens or reach more readers. These innovations are diverse, but they share one thing in common: each promises to make our lives easier. The unique selling propositions vary. Some offer easy enhancement of ebooks (CircularFlo,...

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Macmillan Adds Kids’ Ebooks to Epic! Catalog

Deepening its participation in the subscription model, Macmillan contributes several hundred children’s ebooks to Epic!, a leading subscription service for kids’ content. Nearly six months into its experiment with subscription ebooks, Macmillan becomes the third Big Five publisher, after HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, to partner with Epic!. Epic!, which offers more than 100,00...

Macmillan Epic subscription ebooks children's publishing

Macmillan Adds Ebooks to Subscription Platform Epic!

Macmillan becomes the third Big Five publisher, after HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, to partner with the children’s ebook subscription service Epic!, in a deal announced today. The agreement makes “a few hundred” of Macmillan’s back-list ebooks available on Epic!’s catalog, which currently numbers more than 10,000 titles. According to the company’s co-founder Kevin Donahue, Epic!...

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Sharpening Global Focus, Scribd Adds to Front-List Catalog for Australia

The subscription content platform Scribd adds more than 200 front-list ebooks to the catalog available to Australian readers, including best-selling titles from Simon & Schuster, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Harlequin Australia. According to a Scribd spokesperson, the company is focused on taking a targeted approach to international growth, “and one of the main ways we’re accomplishing that...

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Invites in Developers

A month after acquiring Scholastic’s ed-tech business for $575 million, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt pushes ahead in the space by launching a web portal for developers. Through the portal, external designers and developers can access the company’s application programming interfaces, or APIs, allowing them to build new products and solutions inside the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt...

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Launches Portal for Ed-Tech Developers

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt launches a new web portal allowing designers and developers to collaborate on digital ed-tech products. The portal is the brainchild of HMH labs, a technology incubation division set up last year, and marks the first time Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has exposed its application programming interfaces, or APIs, to external developers. A key reason for doing...

Tablet Sales Diminish for Apple and Samsung Alike

Apple’s iPad sales fell 23% in the first quarter of 2015 compared with the same period last year, according to new figures from ABI Research. It’s the second consecutive quarter where the tech company’s tablet sales have shrunk. While ABI found Samsung managed 7% tablet growth over the course of 2014, its first-quarter 2015 sales are likewise down—in Samsung’s...

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BookBub Gets $7 Million in New Funding

BookBub, the email book marketing start-up that launched a localized program in India earlier this month, pulls in an additional $7 million in new equity and debt financing to pursue further growth. The latest funding comes scarcely more than a year after the company raised $3.8 million, and CEO Josh Schanker says the new resources will...

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Why the Amazon Question Is Also a Mobile One

Not long after upgrading its search algorithm to give pride of place to mobile-optimized sites, Google develops a plan to add ‘buy’ buttons to certain search results appearing on mobile devices. The move is reportedly aimed at stemming the tide of shoppers who get irritated trying to make purchases through retailers’ cumbersome mobile sites...

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The Mobile Future Is Now and Amazon Is Winning It

No, I’m not talking about the Fire Phone. Two recent moves by Google drive home an e-commerce lesson many book publishers worried about Amazon’s market dominance are beginning to learn themselves—that a great deal depends on owning customer relationships with mobile users. Last month Google updated its search algorithm to give priority to mobile-responsive websites, and on Friday the Wall...

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One EPUB to Rule Them All?

There are those who question whether EPUB is the optimal format for publishers to adhere to in producing digital content. Indeed, some argue that standards themselves hold back innovation. In the meantime, there’s disagreement among ebook developers who work in EPUB whether to generate an individual file to deliver to all retailers or to...

EPUB digital ebook production workflow

The Pros and Cons of Single-EPUB Workflows

Many publishers and ebook creation companies strive to create a single EPUB file they can deliver to all of the different retailers, rather than producing different files for each one. While there are pros and cons to this approach to ebook production, my own view is that the pros outweigh the cons. But first,...

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It’s Time to Talk about Web Development

Web development is hardly something most publishers consider their stock in trade. But a widespread lack of basic understanding about Internet technologies threatens to generate inefficiencies and slow innovation. “Since so much of the publishing ecosystem is becoming more and more web-based every day,” Bibliocloud founder and CEO Emma Barnes says, “it helps even those...

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What Publishers Need to Know about Ruby on Rails

Ruby on Rails—or just “Rails” for short—is my web development framework of choice. If your job has anything to do with the Internet—which if you’re reading this it does—then you’ve likely used a Rails application already today. Groupon, Airbnb, Shopify, Bloomberg, Indiegogo and hundreds of thousands of other websites are all written in Rails. Since so...

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Amazon Launches Cloud Computing Education Program

Amazon Web Services introduces a program designed to help secondary and higher education students gain skills and training in cloud computing technology. Called “AWS Educate,” the program offers a slate of resources to instructors and institutions to incorporate cloud-related content into their coursework. Amazon cites the growing demand within many industries for skilled workers with training in...

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Twelve Publishers Submit to SEO Analysis

Like one of the main things it seeks to improve—discoverability—search engine optimization can be something of a moving target for publishers. Still, marketing experts like Murray Izenwasser and Peter McCarthy have shown there are ways to solve key pieces of the SEO puzzle without much technical expertise, time or investment. Now, Izenwasser puts that...

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Kobo Launches Free Ebook Platform for Southwest Airlines Travelers

In a deal announced yesterday, Kobo introduces an e-reading platform for Southwest Airlines passengers, the latest in a flurry of separate initiatives to put ebooks in closer reach of travelers. The platform offers approximately 140 free ebooks (a figure Kobo plans to grow), of which about 85% are full-text editions, while the remainder are samples of titles readers can buy after landing. Nearly a...