Archive for Digital Publishing News
With e-book consumption hitting high growth in India, a natural fallout has been a sharp rise in authors self-publishing their works. The benefits are all too obvious as the author gets to exert complete control over the entire publishing process, not to mention the often tedious chore of having to court publishers to get their works published otherwise. Authors have a lot to benefit on the financial front as well, what with the nearly 70 percent royalty that they earn against the 5-10 percent that traditional publishers generally offer. Indians authors may have woken up to this trend much later than their western counterparts, but are already making up for that by adopting self-publishing at a feverish pace.
Not surprisingly, sites that aim to help the not so tech savvy authors have also come up to assist authors with self-publishing. eBooks India provides the author with tips and tricks on ways to not only digitally publish their works but to also promote them; the latter is important so as not to end up lying buried underneath the pile of self-published titles. As Hiten Vyas, founder of the site puts it, one of the inherent positive qualities of his site is that it is updated daily with the latest trends witnessed in the field of self-publishing. Hiten being an author himself is also of immense help as well. The site covers fiction, non-fiction. and business writing. The site also covers the changing technological trends in the ebook industry, reviews of ebooks and ebook reading apps, and more.
“Self-publishing e-books is a lot of fun. However, it is hard work, takes persistence and dedication to succeed. When you decide to publish your own work, you take complete responsibility for everything, from writing, to editing, to creating cover designs, to uploading with self-publishing platforms and then marketing and sales. You also have to ensure that each step of the self-publishing process is done well. This means getting your work professionally edited and proofread and ensuring that the quality, look and feel or the e-book is equal to, or exceeds that of a title that has been traditionally published.
“With the right effort and patience, a writer will begin to see sales of his or her e-books. Having more titles to your name can help increase sales, as you leave your blueprint across more online retailers and websites and blogs. This enables more readers to find your work. Writing e-books in a series can also be useful. My own experience with writing a series are that many readers will end up buying all the titles in your series if they liked the first one they read,” said Hiten.
Self-publishing is being brought into the mainstream against the belief that this segment generally caters to those whose works have been rejected by the traditional publishers. A rough estimate pegs the number of manuscripts that print publishers get in a year at anywhere between 2000–3000, but only about 250 books are eventually published in the end. Self-publishing is the natural choice for those who have been left out.
It’s proved to be the other way around for some authors like Amish Tripathi, who chose to self-publish his first book, The Immortals of Meluha, after having being rejected by nearly 20 publishers. The tables turned once the book proved to be a raging success that led the publishers to make a beeline for Tripathi.
As more ebook retailers continue to work towards abandoning ship in the US, a global marketplace will become even more important than ever for authors and retailers. With successful and high-volume markets for digital reading already established in countries around the world, an even greater focus on digital publishing is still important.
One of the most difficult but content-starved countries where retailers can maximize their promotional efforts is China. While the ebook space is still rather small compared to both population size and device penetration, consumers within the country are quickly playing catch up to countries who were early adopters of the format.
Unfortunately, China is still a landscape that confounds publishers, despite the abundance of English-language consumers who could presumably purchase ebooks. Publishers have been asking for far too long how to go about bringing content within the borders, and are still just as far from setting up shop as they have been all along.
In an article on the Chinese ebook space for Futurebook, Patrick Crowley sums it up: “What became clear to us very quickly is that the market in China is quite fragmented. There are a number of industries in the hunt for e-book revenues: online retailers, hardware manufacturers, social networks, telecom operators, search engines and even traditional brick-and-mortar stores…China National Publications Import & Export (Group) Corporation or CNPIEC regulates over 90% of the publishing content available in the marketplace. CNPIEC is a vital cog in the Chinese publishing market. They have been the leader in importing and exporting printed books to China for some time. CNPIEC recently made a major commitment to build and market an e-book publishing platform for both Chinese and other than Chinese language titles to the institutional market in China. That platform is now active.”
With opportunities going by the wayside in the US under Amazon’s dominance of the market, smart digital retailers, publishers, and authors will have to learn to adapt to a brand-new marketplace in order to reach an audience hungry for content.
Library Journal has released the results of its 2014 survey, which tracks materials spending in public libraries across the country. The libraries are categorized according to patron size and circulation size, as well as budget size. In what comes as a tremendous surprise given the frightening state of libraries’ crisis-level budgets, spending actually increased microscopically, which is still far better than a decrease.
The spending on print books, movies/DVDs, and CDs or other downloadable music was interesting, despite the easy availability of movies and music from other sources. While music circulation and spending has dropped, DVDs remain the single best investment with the circulation far outweighing the financial cost.
The unfortunate reduction in print book purchasing could go either way; while ebook spending did increase for most libraries regardless of size, overall materials spending decreased in library systems who had suffered branch closing, reductions in staff, and reductions in operating hours.
In even better news, every category of library size reported an overall increase in circulation for a total 2% increase. In a finding that speaks to the vital role that libraries play, it was those libraries that serve rural communities that reported the highest book circulation numbers, largely due to the lack of bookstores in these communities and the unavailability of “one day delivery lockers” or Sunday delivery from online retailers.
Interestingly, libraries that reported a decrease in total book circulation actually pointed to ebooks as the culprit. With the ease of purchase and download and the more affordable price of digital over print, it appears as though consumers are quick to press the “buy it now” button instead of waiting for the book to become available through the library, either in print or in digital. This phenomenon has been shared for years from companies like Kobo and OverDrive, who’ve worked to convince publishers that library lending and ebooks are good for their business.
The full report from Library Journal is available HERE.
Are consumers too busy to read?
In the ongoing experimentation from newspapers to adapt to a world of digital consumers while still making a profit, the New York Times has announced its newest option: abridged stories from its own publications, and other source around the internet, optimized for mobile device reading. Thanks to a new app, NYT Now, subscribers to the app’s content can access shorter versions of the paper’s full-length articles for a little more than half the cost of a full digital subscription.
This kind of service is perfect for people who want the level of content and slant of journalism that the Times is typically known for, but do not have the time to read full-length editions every day. This as-of-yet untapped level on consumer–the person who wishes he read more books or was more up-to-date on current events, but simply doesn’t have enough time to devote to this type of reading–is becoming a bigger focus among digital publishing platforms; last week, Rooster announced the March 11th launch of its “snippet” reading subscription that lets users consume serialized books at a fraction of the cost of full-size ebook subscriptions, again, optimized for smartphone reading.
While both the NYT Now app and Rooster have set their price points at approximately half of the cost of a typical subscription, in the case of the news app, it may not be far enough. The app still requires a fee of around $8 a month, a price point that people who are already strapped for time may not be willing to pay to scroll through partial articles when that same level of engagement can be had for free by browsing news sites online.
Subscription ebook reading is nothing new. Companies like 24Symbols have been offering Netflix-style reading since as early as 2010, all vying for an all-you-can-eat approach to reading. It’s been difficult to get publishers on board with the concept without a clear structure for royalties, and it’s been equally difficult getting readers to shell out money to consume books when they’ve been happy with their reading options all along.
Now, a new company is launching with a new approach to the subscription model. Instead of trying to target readers with a “read everything you possibly can get your hands on in a month” idea, Rooster is looking at reading as something that consumers can do in bite-sized pieces whenever time allows. To that end, the company is building a platform that offers serialized content optimized for smartphones, for a much lower price than the subscription big boys.
Rooster’s co-founder and editorial director Yael Goldstein Love spoke to Good e-Reader today about the appeal of serialized subscription reading. While much of the content is currently in the public domain or sourced from the company’s other site, Daily Lit, a different model is underway in which classics are paired with contemporary content.
“We’ve been working directly with authors to try to create content that is specifically tailored for the Rooster experience.”
The shorter length of Rooster content is perfect for smartphone reading during snippets of time, something that speaks to the company’s model. Rather than luring consumers with a model that affords them the ability to read mountains of content for one price, Rooster’s clientele is expected to read serialized and novella-length works for far less than the cost of a typical ebook subscription plan.
Rooster is working with publishers to stock novella length or shorter novels, especially titles that just–for one reason or another–just don’t take off in the way that had been anticipated.
“Every publisher has this list of books that they loved so much, that they thought were just going to find an audience and be loved by so many people, but for whatever reason, it just doesn’t pick up or find its audience. It’s just this gem that goes unread. Those are the things we want to find, those books that deserve a second chance.”
While Rooster is in beta at this time, full launch of the site is anticipated for March 11. Users can sign up now for a free two week trial at the company’s website at readrooster.com.
Academic publishers are finding that there’s strength in numbers when it comes to launching digital content for classroom settings. At a SXSWEdu event today, McGraw-Hill Education and StudySync announced a partnership aimed at bringing language arts materials that are aligned with the Common Core Standards to digital environments for teaching.
“With information available at the swipe of a finger, education in the 21st century must engage students to inspire academic excellence and foster creativity. To be successful, students must aspire to higher levels of reading and writing, learn how to build knowledge to support their opinions and think critically as they parse the plethora of material so simply at their disposal,” said Robert Romano, CEO of StudySync. “Our partnership with McGraw-Hill Education serves to address those essential changes in education by bringing together substance and form to produce the best teaching resources possible to help students achieve success in college and career.”
Under the terms of this new collaboration, McGraw-Hill will not only distribute the StudySync platform to its secondary school members, but will also work with the company to generate even more engaging digital learning content. But one of the features that does cause StudySync to stand out in an already crowded marketplace of companies who believe they can do it better is their Blast content, which sends out a weekly writing assignment based around current world events; students around the world can then connect to discuss the writing assignments.
According to Peter Cohen, president of McGraw-Hill School Education Group, “StudySync is a standout product that successfully integrates the latest innovations in technology with effective curriculum and pedagogy for an era of more rigorous educational standards. Combining it with our products and services will help educators not only boost engagement but drive results.”